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Legal authority to change name(6 Posts)
I have posted on this forum before but I’ve name changed because this is an emotive topic, and also to avoid any chance of being outed irl.
There are already a thousand other threads devoted to whether or not an adopter should change their child’s name, and the maximum age when this might be considered. I’m not asking about whether it “should” be done, just the legality around making the change.
It’s my understanding that although SWs are strongly opposed to name changes for any reason other than the security of the child (and sometimes even then) ultimately they can’t control what the adopter puts on the AO, right? So fundamentally it’s not up to them? However does this apply to the judge? Is it possible for a judge, either at the matching panel or the adoption order approval stage, to force adoptive parents to keep a child’s birth name?
I would also add that I respect the choices of all adoptive parents, whether they choose to change their child’s name or keep the birth name. Ultimately I think we’re all just trying to do the best we can for our children.
I don't think they can force you no. I have heard of judges question the decision but that's all.
The judge/AO is nowhere near matching panel so you can just use old name there with no problem.
The AO application form includes a space for 'name the child will be known by'. And that's all. I'm pretty sure we sent our forms direct to court too (though we did need some info from the SWs).
I have no idea if judge can decline on basis of name - I'd hope not given that child will have been placed for at least 10 weeks by then...
Depending on the discussion you've had with your SWs, this should be covered in their report. I've known adopters who've changed their child's name prior to the AO (not legally, just in daily usage) and this was covered in the report as it was stressed that this was supported by the LA. Even if your LA are opposed to it, I'd still recommend outlining your reasons to them so it isn't a contentious issue in court - if this can be avoided then it's probably for the best.
You are correct. Legally you apply for a new name with the AO. There is nothing to say that forenames must remain the same. SW preferences have no legal force- the decision is completely the parent's.
"Is it possible for a judge, to force adoptive parents to keep a child’s birth name?"
Yes. They can make any order they like around the AO- but it would never happen.
That out the way, allow me to give some unsolicited advice on whether you should do it, and how if you do:
1. A name change is should not be done frivolously (but it's not as horrendous as some SWs make it). Finding out about a change later in life can be a bit jarring. For babies it's not major- we changed DD2s. For kids that know their name its a big deal.
2. Do tell SWs immediately after the AO application has been put in. If it gets to court and they don't know it will put the adoption at risk. Very unlikely to stop it, but it will cause issues.
3. If at all possible tell SWs asap and avoid the impression of lying to them. If they think you've fucked them around it could make it hard to adopt in future. We told them as soon as asked and they were put out, but could hardly moan because they didn't mention it before panel.
4. We would not have got DD2 if it had come up before panel. Some LAs are militant, so sound out YOUR SW first. Speak in vague general terms until you get a clear idea of the lie of the land.
5. Before the AO they legally have the same name, but I would start working on the transition to make it as easy as possible.
Good luck. Feel free to PM me if you'd like to ask specifics.
Thanks for clearing up my confusion, and for the sound advice. Whatever our final decision, it’s not one we would ever take lightly.
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