Mother may change son's name despite father's concern

A mother has been allowed to change her son’s middle name despite an objection from his father.

The case involved a boy who at birth was given two forenames by the parents and registered with both.

He was most commonly known by his first name but the father used both and said that he favoured the middle name, which is not being published to protect the boy’s identity.

The middle name was a normal well established name, but the mother felt it had bad connotations because of its association with a notorious public figure.

The judge, in private proceedings, made an order granting the mother permission to change the boy’s middle name on the basis that continuing to use it would damage his emotional welfare.

The Family Court has upheld that decision. It said that a child's age, his or her degree of understanding and the growing importance of forenames in terms of identity were all crucial factors to be considered. The judge took all those factors into account as part of his welfare evaluation.

It was doubtful that the order achieved the intended goal, namely to protect the child on a day-to-day basis. However, what the mother wanted was to ensure that the middle name did not routinely appear on documents, for example school reports, and thereby avoid any innocent usage.


Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.

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