Can I change my child's surname after a divorce?

Published 17 Jul 2017

Divorce is an unfortunate part of life for many couples in Australia, especially when there are children involved. In some cases, parents might wish to change the surname of their child following a separation; this can be a challenging process, particularly if one parent is not in agreement and neither party has legal representation.

Let's look at the process families must go through in order to legally change the surname of a child in NSW and hear how a family lawyer might be able to help.

How to change a child's surname

To change the surname of a child, the parents or guardians must complete the Change of Name application (found on the NSW Justice Department website). This can be submitted via post or in person, depending on the situation. Like other similar applications, parents must also pay a fee in order to have the request processed.

If the child in question is over the age of 12, he or she must also be in agreement about the name change, unless the Parramatta Family Court orders otherwise. 

The most important documentation that must be included in the application is proof that both parents agree to the name change. The Family Law Act of 1975 laid out the groundwork for what is known as 'Shared Parental Responsibility' - this means that both parents must be in agreement about long term decisions, such as the surname of a child.

However, families will not need to prove that both parents agree if only one is listed on the original birth certificate, or if the Court granted one person sole parental responsibility.

What if my ex-spouse won't agree?

Unfortunately, the legislation laid out by the Family Law Act of 1975 makes it very difficult for single-parents to change the surname of their child without the consent of the other parent. In certain cases, a parent can appeal to the Court in the hopes that they will be allowed to make a long term decision without the input of their ex-spouse. This might be the case, for example, in an abusive situation where a family is worried that the other parent poses a safety risk to them.

It can be challenging and time consuming to ask the Court for a sole parental responsibility order, especially as a single parent. If you believe you have good reason to change your child's surname without the consent of your ex-spouse, or need help with the application process, reach out to a Parramatta family law solicitor today.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

I would just like to say thank you to Anthony who assisted my son in his matter. He is a first home buyer and was pressured into signing a contract prior to obtaining legal advice. The contract was certainly was not the normal straight forward type. To be able to obtain the help and assistance he did from Anthony and rescind the offer the next day, was wonderful. We were able to have a stress free Christmas. I am unable to thank him enough for this. My son and our family will be contacting Anthony when we find the next property.
Kim of Sydney

Parramatta Office:

Level 5/146 Marsden Street
Parramatta NSW 2124

PO Box 945
Parramatta NSW 2124

Phone: 02 8833 2000
Fax: 02 9687 3697