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Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you have any legal concerns we suggest you consult a solicitor.

Changing DD's name without absent father's consent

(50 Posts)
Poppolino Wed 02-May-12 11:04:07

Hi all, I have looked on the deed poll website but it only answers half my question so I wondered it there are any legal experts on here who wouldn't mind advising.

DD has my surname and I am about to marry my partner. DD's father hasn't seen her since she was 3 months old (she is now almost 5) but as we were married he does have PR. I would like us both to have DP's surname when we get married and I know I would need my ex's consent. But we don't want to trigger him making contact, especially as he doesn't know where we are now.

My question is, do we need his consent to change her surname from MY name to my partner's? I would understand that we would need it if she had HIs surname, but she doesn't. Don't want to go to court and was just hoping to change her name in his absence <naive>

Kladdkaka Thu 03-May-12 07:37:01

Eh? Well 4 of you have changed children's names with no lawful authority. Ripe for a Prohibited Steps Order if the fathers ever find out. Still, why must the law apply to you lot eh?

Because in my case my ex was a violent, abusive man who needed wrestling to the ground by burly policemen, locking up, an injuction and his ex-wife and child being moved to a refuge so he couldn't find them, to finally get the message to stay the hell away. Nearly 20 years later I still suffer from PTSD. Some nest shouldn't be prodded, so I did what my solicitor advised.

MOSagain Thu 03-May-12 07:56:30

Oh come on Collaborate, have you not been here long enough to know that the law doesn't apply to some Mners? I'm sure all of us family lawyers have seen cases where the mother has changed the child/rens name without the consent of the father and there has then been an application for the name to be changed back. Quite a few successful too in my opinion.

I can totally understand why some mothers want to change their childrens names but unfortunately it isn't as simple as that. The law is there for a reason.

Mama1980 Thu 03-May-12 08:01:22

If your ex s name is on the birth cert then you need his consent -sorry

Kladdkaka Thu 03-May-12 08:04:36

The law IS there for a reason. To prevent resident parents taking unilateral decisions which the other parent should have a say in. The law isn't there to give abusive exs further amunition. By being absent for 8 years and contributing nothing to the raising of a child, that parent has clearly shown that they have no interest in exercising their parental rights. He didn't know or care whether she were alive or dead. Common sense prevailed.

S1eepy Thu 03-May-12 08:09:41

As much as I think the lawyers giving their time on here for free is a fantastic thing, I really don't think that level of sarcasm is appropriate. Afterall women usually don't just change their children's name for no good reason, it is usually has something to do with a violent abusive ex. The court system makes mothers feel bad enough as it is. I'm sure women's aid would have a very different view. Afterall it is all just a matter of opinion really and the legal system just has one opinion amongst many.

MOSagain Thu 03-May-12 08:19:57

Actually, I have to disagree S1eepy. I've known many mothers who use the child/ren as a weapon. Often refusing contact or threatening the name change to punish ex partners. Obviously, there are some cases where there is a very good reason, such as in the example given by kladdkaka, but in many cases, it is used as a way of revenge. In cases such as Kladdkaka's, it would be for the law (judge) to decide whether it was appropriate for the name to be changed. For what its worth, in my opinion I think that is such a case where the name should be changed.

Kladdkaka Thu 03-May-12 08:40:21

MOSagain, I do agree with you about it not being used as a weapon. When I was going through my divorce, I had a quite a bit of contact with other women at the contact centre who I could see were struggling not to vent their anger/resentment. Eventually my ex told the judge that if he couldn't see my daughter on his own terms, he didn't want to see her at all. He then had to give make an 'undertaking'(?) saying he would have no further contact with us. I don't know if this influenced the advice my solicitor gave over the name change. It was only supposed to last 6 months and the name change was 8 years later. I remember the judge saying at the time that the purpose of the undertaking was to sever all ties between us.

Poppolino Sat 05-May-12 09:52:20

I don't want to provoke any sarcasm / argument. I have respect for the law which is why, Collaborate, I did ask you directly what court would entail? Of course you're not obliged to answer, and I was grateful for the advice you gave before anyway, but this seems to have become about mothers not repecting the law so I'm just pointing out that my question was about court and what it would entail.

By the same token, I do understand that for some of us, we want to do the best we can for our children without provoking angry exes who are long gone and I think Klad has acted in her family's best interest.

thanks to all who have offered advice; I have much to think about smile

TheUnMember Sat 05-May-12 11:11:24

The thing is Poppolino, if my solicitor was correct, that the system is such that you cannot go to court to get permission without stirring up the hornets nest first. You can only approach them once permission has been refused. If I could have applied directly to the court, without involving my ex, I would have done.

Poppolino Sat 05-May-12 11:45:41

I know. It's a nightmare

balia Sat 05-May-12 12:00:37

I'm not a sol but occasionally post on here to share my (limited) knowledge from personal experience if I think it will help. I think the free advice people get here from the qualified posters is fantastic; and it must get pretty frustrating when others come on and effectively say - don't bother about the legal side, I did it and got away with it, you can too. The legal system is not just 'one opinion among many' what a ridiculous thing to say.

If people post on legal, they should get accurate legal advice. There are plenty of other areas on which to express your views on changing children's names etc.

TheUnMember Sat 05-May-12 12:20:19

If people post on legal, they should get accurate legal advice. There are plenty of other areas on which to express your views on changing children's names etc.

MNHQ disagree with that and have stated it on this forum before. Anyone is allowed to discuss their views here, just like all the other areas.

TheUnMember Sat 05-May-12 12:23:42

The legal system is not just 'one opinion among many' what a ridiculous thing to say.

Of course it is. What a ridiculous thing to say. Every single court case is one opinion vs another. Balancing differing opinions is the basis of the entire legal system.

MOSagain Sat 05-May-12 12:38:41

balia I totally agree with you. One would hope that by asking questions on legal, posters would get correct legal advice. Unfortunately that does not always happen as quite often the 'Jeremy Kyle/well my friend's friend from down the pub got this' brigade turn up.

The UnMember, Yes, MNHQ do disagree to the dismay of many of the qualified lawyers who regularly post on here, some of whom have talked about not bothering wasting their time any more. Of course MN is a forum for people to discuss their views. However, when posters are specifically seeking legal advice it is, in my opinion, unhelpful for unqualified posters to come on giving their opinon/advice which could be detrimental to the OP. Of course, in an ideal world, people would instruct lawyers specialising in the area of their problem however we do not live in an ideal world and not everyone can afford to spend 200 pounds plus per hour for advice.

mumblechum1 Sat 05-May-12 13:34:22

Well said, MOS. I don't really mind if lay people give their experience, as well as qualified lawyers giving proper advice, the difficulty is that it's not obvious to posters who don't often hang around this section to recognise who's a lawyer and who's just offering their own anecdotes.

Short of the legally qualified lot preceding every post with "I'm a lawyer and I know what I'm talking about", I don't know what the answer is.

Sadly I'm too busy helping paying clients these days to spend much time on Legal, much as I enjoy putting in my two pennorth smile

CurrySpice Sat 05-May-12 13:38:57

A very good male friend of mine had this happen to him. His wife ran off with someone else. He was not abusive, and since she left he has paid for his DD every month. His ex unilaterally changed his DD's surname without his knowledge, and despite a judge warning her not to.

It broke his heart sad

MOSagain Sat 05-May-12 14:08:23

Curry, did he not do anything about it? He could have made an application to the Court for her name to be changed back.

CurrySpice Sat 05-May-12 14:12:30

No. It was just one of many things she did. Culminating in moving without telling him and he didn't know where she was. He decided that all the court cases and trauma were harming his dd and sort of gave up sad he wrote a letter to his dd every week and kept it in the hope that she would one day come and find him

About 6 months ago, after 6 years, his ex reappeared, apologising and realising what a terrible thing she had done. The dd has since met with her paternal grandparents and they are slowly building up to her re-meeting her lovely dad grin

Smurfy1 Sat 05-May-12 14:18:22

Sorry but in my case the BM changed her kids names to suit the parent of the time and it did nothing but confuse the schools, kids, when the eldest came to get a job and all her ID was a different name to her education certs and no legal proof of name change so couldn't proof it wasn't for fraud action

You need to think of the future and the kids in the long run, and the dad can (like my OH) win citing Deliberate Parental alienation and the school loved it (not) when he proved her boirth cert had a different name and PR, as the BM hadn't told them anything

Collaborate Sat 05-May-12 21:29:40

OP It involves filling in a court application, preparing a statement, attending at least a couple of hearings, and possibly dealing with a cafcass officer.

TheUnMember: your ignorance isn't shocking, but your steadfast belief that you know it all is. Carry on please. Sorting out problems created by people who do things wrongly is how I make my living. I certainly don't make my living trying to help people on here.

TheUnMember Sun 06-May-12 08:11:28


There is no need to be so rude. This is a forum for everyone to share their experience.

MOSagain Sun 06-May-12 13:03:21

Indeed it is a forum for everyone to share their experience. Collaborate is a very experienced family lawyer (something which I have personally verified and can therefore vouch for) and has a wealth of experience of these type of matters. In my opinion, I don't believe Collaborate was being rude.

mosschops30 Sun 06-May-12 13:07:47

Going back 10 years i did it without court or ex permission. I had made reasonable efforts to find him to pay maintenance but failed so solicitor went ahead.
When he finally decided to want contact when dd was 8 he ranted about it in his court statement, but it was never even mentioned in court and my dh was given pr and residency.

It may have changed since then

Collaborate Sun 06-May-12 23:39:43

TheUnMember My comment was directed at your comment that in the context of this thread it's a mater of opinions. It simply isn't. A parent can only lawfully change their child's name on their own if they are the only person in the world with parental responsibility.

Poppolino asked a very specific question, which has a very straight forward answer. That answer is not a question of opinion. The law isn't a matter of opinion. Different cases may turn upon findings of fact made by a tribunal, or the exercise by a court of judicial discretion (within identifiable boundaries set by the law as laid down in statute or case law), but the law is never such that you can interpret it however you like.

Poppolino Mon 07-May-12 08:08:42

Thanks Collaborate, I appreciate knowing the law on the matter. I think that DD and I will just keep my name in the light of what you say. It's a shame [starry-eyed-newly-wed-wanting-to-take-his-name-etc] but probably the safest option for our family if we don't want contact from the ex. I certainly don't want to do it without consent, get away with it and then have it bite me on the arse later!

Much appreciate all your advice. smile

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