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Changing a Child's Name

There are several reasons for someone wanting to change their child’s name. For instance, they might be going through divorce or separation and want to change the child’s surname to match their maiden name or they may want the child to have the surname of their new husband or partner. Similarly, an unmarried mother who has registered the child at birth with the father’s surname may want to change the child’s surname to her own following the end of the relationship with the father.

Whether you can formally change the child’s name and the options open to you will depend on your circumstances and potentially the agreement of the other parent.

Frequently asked questions

The following are some of our most frequently asked questions when it comes to changing a child’s name.

Yes. The child’s name can be changed formally by recording the change of name at the National Records of Scotland. If this is not possible or practical then the child’s name can be changed somewhat less formally by way of Statutory Declaration.

As with any decision involving a child, the decision to change a child’s name should be made with the best interests of the child at heart.  When changing a child’s name, either by recording at the National Records of Scotland or by Statutory Declaration, the parent must have the permission of the other parent if the other parent holds parental responsibilities and rights for that child. If the parent has sole parental responsibilities and rights for that child, then they do not need to get permission from the other parent.

To formally change the name of a child under the age of 16 by recording the change at the National Records of Scotland, the child’s birth must first have been registered in Scotland. Also, the application must be completed by a qualified applicant. A qualified applicant is defined as:

  • The one parent if only they have parental responsibilities and rights in relation to the child
  • Both parents if they both have parental responsibilities and rights in relation to the child
  • Any other person who has parental responsibilities and rights if neither parent has those responsibilities and rights

You apply to change the name by completing a number of questions and forms from the National Records of Scotland. The forms and the change of name is then recorded at the National Registers of Scotland. You will also need to pay the appropriate fee at the time of recording.

All birth certificates issued after the recording of the change will show the new name with the original name shown separately.

If you do not want to make a formal change, or it is not possible, you may want to use a Statutory Declaration instead.

If there is a dispute about a change of name between two parents who both have parental responsibilities and rights, then the parent who wants to make the change may have to apply to the court for permission to change the child’s name. If a name is changed unilaterally then the parent who does not consent can apply to the court for an order requiring the name to be changed back to what it was before. All of this may incur significant costs and could potentially be both confusing and upsetting for the child involved.  It is therefore essential you seek advice about changing the child’s name before trying to do anything yourself.

How can Thorntons help?

Our Family Law team can advise you on the options available to you for changing your child’s name and help you deal with any disputes over the change if necessary.

At Thorntons Family Law, we offer an initial free no-obligation chat over the phone to outline your options and the possible costs.  Depending on your case and circumstances, the next step is to contact one of our local offices to discuss your needs with a Family Law Solicitor.

Call us on 03330 430 150 for a chat or contact us to book an appointment.

How much will it cost?

We are always clear to clients about the potential costs of any option and offer a range of payment options.  In some cases we can offer clients a fixed price package.  If we cannot offer a fixed price service, we charge based on the time we spend on your case, including meetings, emails, phone calls and court representations.  Depending on your case and circumstances, you may also need to cover outlays, such as court costs or payments to independent experts. We will set out our fees and likely extra costs for you at the start and keep you informed of any possible changes as your case progresses.

Please note we do not offer Legal Aid for this service.