Naming a baby can be tricky and needs some thought as a Christian name will be with the child for a lifetime.
The dictionary refers to a ‘surname’ as being ‘the family name’ which works well when two parents are together but things can get difficult when parents either separate or live apart.
Where parents are married then both parents automatically have Parental Responsibility for their child and decide matters relating to their child together. Similarly, where parents are not married, the child was born after 1 December 2003 and the father was named on the birth certificate then again both parents share Parental Responsibility.
Outside of these circumstances the father of the child may not automatically be involved in Parental Responsibility and often the mum can make unilateral decisions without reference to the father. My advice however, would be never to make such a decision without taking advice as the law is very clear on these issues. Every child’s circumstances are different and no decision to change a baby’s name or surname should be made lightly without careful consideration as to the impact the result will have on the child.
Courts look to parents to try and agree all issues in respect of their children but if it is not possible to reach an agreement, either through discussion, negotiation or mediation the Court can make a decision which both parents will have to abide by. The key focus of the Court will be the welfare of the child and not merely the needs of the parents.
If for some reason you are looking to change a child’s surname please do not do this without either agreement with the other parent or alternatively not without having taken some legal advice. I have many years of experience in this area – do not hesitate to make contact with me if you want to talk this over.