A mother has won the right to change her child’s middle name against the objections of the father.
In a tightly anonymised public ruling at the family court in Lincoln, His Honour Judge Rogers explained that the mother had taken a dislike to the name in question.
“The child is most commonly known by the first name but the father uses both and says he favours the middle name. The middle name is a normal well established name. It is not eccentric or in itself offensive. However, the mother’s case was that, as a result of its association with a notorious public figure, it is infected with bad connotations.”
The father, by contrast, believed the name was an important part of the child’s identity. It was not specified in the judgement.
The mother took her case to the family court, receiving legal aid to do so. A judge ruled in her favour but the father was allowed to appeal.
But Judge Rogers has now backed the earlier ruling, agreeing that the name could emotionally harm the child. The father’s case had no merit, he declared.
However, Judge Rogers also noted the difficulty of enforcing or implementing a full change of name.
“The order made is permissive for the mother to change the name. It does not prohibit the use of the name, nor is it, in terms, an injunction against the father to prevent him so addressing the child. Had that been considered, the obvious difficulties over policing and enforcement would have come to light. How would the communications between the child and the father (both oral and in writing) be monitored and, in any event, would any devisable method of monitoring be healthy or in the interests of the child?”
He added, however:
“I know that the mother is sceptical, but, of course, time will tell and if the father proves unreliable and uses the middle name openly and in circumstances liable to cause distress or emotional harm to the child, then it would be open to the mother to seek an order directed personally to the father.”
The child’s age and gender were not revealed publicly.
Read the full ruling here.