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Has anyone experience of changing a DC's surname when NRP is absent?

(20 Posts)
JingleSpells Tue 04-Nov-14 20:41:21

Hope it's ok to post this in here, pondered for a while which section to ask this in and thought I might get most experience here. I'm dd's RP and due to marry DP, dd's step-father, next summer. As far as we're all concerned we're already a family but it would be great to make it 'official' too. DD would really like to take on DP's surname, so we'll all have the same surname and, from experience (as she still has her 'father's' surname legally) it would make things a lot easier.

DD's 'father' (I use inverted commas with good reason, history of DV and doing absolutely nothing for dd) hasn't seen her since she was 9 months old and that was literally a passing meeting, he hasn't actually seen her for more than a few minutes since she was 4 months. I can honestly say I've done nothing I shouldn't have to block contact (he'd disagree though as he counted not letting him take a baby off for unspecified hours to an unspecified place as denying contact), he just got annoyed at me 'calling the shots' (again, such as inviting him to come and see dd at home rather than taking her out, and cancelling contact when she was poorly) and never made contact again. I didn't pursue him either but he knew where to reach us and that I wouldn't stand in his way.

DD is nearly 12 now and obviously doesn't know him at all, she had a couple of brief periods of wanting to try and find him, fantasising about him being some wonderful dad, but I tried to look him up and couldn't find anything (very common name and had no idea of area as he moved away soon after breaking contact). Since then she's decided she's not bothered as we're a family now but, privately, I have managed to find an address for him (thanks to a past acquaintance mentioning the area).

Sorry for long backstory but the issue is that, as far as I've read, to get permission for a name change or for the step parent to share PR or adopt DC, you need the consent of both parents with PR, and I'm not sure how he'd react to that. Can see him either being affronted by it and using the opportunity to get back into our lives to try and put a spanner in the works, which would be horrible for dd, or being fine with it as if I understand correctly, it would cut off any chance of claiming maintenance from him and let him off the hook. (if it helps, we've had no maintenance at all, ever, from him - had to claim for it under the old IS rules when dd was about 5-6 and a woman from CSA got back to me to say he'd told her if I pressed for maintenance he'd press for contact so when they offered to let me drop the matter I did)

So seeing as they probably couldn't trace him on their own (am I obliged to share info I have, seeing as he hasn't provided me with it or anything, I just googled based on scant info?) would that count as not being able to get hold of him and they could go on dd's wishes alone and allow name change/PR change? Or for safety's sake should we leave it a couple of years? Or apply to court and cross our fingers he's not bothered about making trouble? Not sure what to do.

wheresthelight Tue 04-Nov-14 21:54:25

I think you might be better to post in the legal section as they may be better placed to advise.

however I would strongly suggest you seek legal advice on this

Foxeym Wed 05-Nov-14 08:34:20

I wanted to change my name to my step fathers when I was a teenager but needed my fathers permission which he wouldn't give?? I waited until I was 16 and did it myself with my mum by deed poll so if you don't want to involve your ex it might be worth waiting until they are 16

daisychainmail Wed 05-Nov-14 09:06:16

God he sounds like a complete wanker!

No advice on your question I'm afraid, but congratulations on your engagement xx

hokeycokeyyy Wed 05-Nov-14 11:56:54

I'm not sure how she would do it legally but would she be happy with just using your DP's name but her legal name just be used for official things (passport, birth certificate etc) until she turns 18 and then she can change it legally if she wants to?

School will happily change her 'known by name' without any legal paper work so day to day she can call herself by DP's name.
I'm not sure where she'd stand with bank accounts etc tho.

I knew a guy who only found out when he was about 18 that his 'Dad' wasn't his real dad because he found his birth certificate and it had a different name on it. So his Mum had managed to register everything (school, GP, banks etc) as his step dad's name. Granted that was 30 years ago so maybe things are different now but I know you can definitely do it with schools.

StardustBikini Wed 05-Nov-14 13:35:56

I know you can definitely do it with schools.

The DfE guidance to schools is very clear that they should not do this, and after several high profile cases in which legal action has been taken, more and more schools are becoming aware of their responsibilities:

www.fnfexeter.org.uk/FNFexeterDocs/PDFs/200006-DfEE%20ParentsParentalResponsibility0092-2000.pdf

hokeycokeyyy Wed 05-Nov-14 22:00:50

Sorry I thought you could, I do know people who have. That info doesn't say you definitely can't though and maybe it would depend on the circumstances.

bananananacoconuts Wed 05-Nov-14 22:05:42

I work in a secondary school and we have a handful of students who have different official names ( for exam purposes) and known as names.

izziewizzie Thu 06-Nov-14 16:31:10

I have actually just done this through the court.
First write to your ex and ask if he will agree, if he does you can do it through deed poll.
If he doesn't, you go to court to do it (which I did)
You will have to go to mediation, ( although if DV it might not be necessary) he will be invited and you can see if you can thrash it out ( ex didn't show), then you put in the court papers (C100 I think) and a fee (£250 I think)
Then you go to court.
My dd had to do a wishes and feelings with CAFCAS, and I had to go to court twice, but it's fairly straightforward.
It took about 6 months or so, and cost about £400.

You can try to do it without his consent or the court, but places like the passport office won't recognise it, your best bet is a court order.

My ex hadn't seen or contacted my dd in 5 years, so the lack of contact will help.

Hope that helps

HereBeHubbubs Fri 07-Nov-14 00:45:09

I unofficially took on my stepfather's surname from a toddler and it was on all my official paperwork - absolutely everything - until for some teenage angst reason I reverted back to my birth surname aged 18.

This was the early 1970s though so perhaps things have changed since then.

If your child is nearly 12 do they have different rights perhaps considering 12 year olds can now apply to court over parent residency disputes and so on? Just wondering..

TickleMyTitsTillFriday Fri 07-Nov-14 01:06:13

Were you married? If not then he doesn't have PR if it was pre December 2003.

TickleMyTitsTillFriday Fri 07-Nov-14 01:08:50

Oh and for your dp to adopt, you would have to relinquish pr and then both of you adopt. You can apply to the court for an order to grant him PR if I remember correctly.
I changed my dds name by deed poll as her father doesn't have PR. She was born in 99 and we weren't married.

PensAndPencils Fri 07-Nov-14 01:36:39

Check whether your ex has parental responsibility, if not then you can change name by deedpol and apply to court for DH to have parental responsibility without his permission.

TickleMyTitsTillFriday Fri 07-Nov-14 07:41:05

I have my fingers crossed that you weren't married op! I love that my pathetic excuse of an ex doesn't have PR!

JingleSpells Fri 07-Nov-14 11:25:31

Sorry it took me so long to come back to the thread - hectic week! Thanks for the congrats and for all the info, unfortunately we were married (huuuge mistake) so he definitely has PR.

The school issue is one we've found to be extremely hit and miss, dd's primary school were always very happy to say they could put her 'known name' as my maiden name but kept switching between surnames in reading out register and sending letters so no idea what was happening there, I gave up asking them to use maiden name after a while. They even used the maiden name on more 'official' stuff like SATs results so who knows! Secondary so far have used my maiden name but don't know if that's as a 'preferred' name, I can't remember what the forms asked for.

I may have read some wrong info but I think the adoption thing has changed fairly recently, I think now the step-parent can adopt without the parent having to relinquish PR and adopt too, but I'll check on that. Would prefer not to have to adopt my own dd, know it makes no difference legally/practically but somehow it doesn't seem right.

From bits I've read the courts do give quite a voice to older kids/teens over what they want but obviously there's no specifics - I don't know what would happen if it was one parent's preference against the child's.

Thanks for the process explanation izzie, sounds much simpler than I was expecting. The main problem is I think ex-h might kick up as huge a stink as possible, or completely opt out but I don't know which way he'd go. Sounds worthwhile though. Did you need a solicitor to do it?

Am thinking the best way to go may be to get the wedding out of the way and let DD start using DP's surname as a known name then sit down and have an honest conversation with her (in an appropriate way) about what we'd need to do to change her name and what that could involve (such as ex-h getting back in touch) - does that sound ok? I don't want to put it all onto her shoulders but don't want to say we can change her name as if it's all easy and then ex-h suddenly start throwing shit.

FreeSpirit89 Fri 07-Nov-14 17:14:19

Make the application to deadpoll and say the father is not involved in your DCs life.

You have to write a letter saying that you haven't seen him or heard from him in x years. And have no idea of how to contact him, and boom!
Changed. I did it for my DS in April

JingleSpells Fri 07-Nov-14 18:31:56

That sounds simple FreeSpirit! Did you or anyone else have to do any 'looking for' him or did they take your word for it? And have you had any trouble using the name, like for a passport or at school etc? Will look into deedpolls now, thanks!

EauPea Mon 10-Nov-14 14:42:10

I changed Dd's surname when she was two.

Just changed details with all relevant parties i.e gp, nursery, child benefit etc, that she was "now known as" xxx.

There was no need to involve her father in this at all, (which was why I choose this option over the others).

EauPea Mon 10-Nov-14 14:43:54

Sorry forgot to say, Dd's bank account, driving license, etc are all in her known as name.

AGnu Mon 10-Nov-14 14:48:35

My DSis changed her DD's surname when she was about 7 I think. Her father was on the birth certificate but hadn't seen her since she was 9m. All sounded fairly simple, given his lack of contact!

Good luck!

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