Divorce and children: a note on names

Marilyn Stowe

In this extract from the second edition of Marilyn Stowe’s book Divorce and Splitting Up: Advice from a Top Divorce Lawyer, she discusses what to do about children’s names following a divorce.

We are often asked about children’s names. You should know that typically, these should not be changed without agreement from both parents. This rule of thumb applies when the parents are married or divorced, or if the parents did not marry but the father has signed the birth certificate. If you wish to change a child’s name but know that the proposed change will be contested, you should apply to the court.

Tempting as it is to revert to a maiden name or family name without that agreement, it is severely frowned upon by the court and they may even order that the name is changed back. This includes the name used upon the school roll. The court views a child’s name as fundamental to his or her identity. Sudden and controversial name changes do not sit well with judges.

In short, it is your duty to work with the other parent for the best of their children, even during difficult times. Nothing can be more emotional or potentially destructive than proceedings regarding children, but approach the issue as a conflict and that is what will happen. Instead be firm, put your child at the centre of the case and do not be dissuaded from doing what you believe is right for the benefit of your child. It is very difficult to detach your feelings from what is objectively the best for your child. However if you don’t do it, you may find the court doing it for you, and the outcome may not be what you desire.

Download your copy of Divorce & Splitting Up: Advice from a Top Divorce Lawyer for just 99p here. All profits are donated to the Children’s Society.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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JamesB - March 3, 2016 at 1:08pm

Thanks for this.

Re ‘The court views a child’s name as fundamental to his or her identity.’ I wish the court viewed a child’s right to positive relationships with both parents as fundamental to his or her identity also. That they do not means that perhaps they don’t really care.

On this the courts are right. This is about legitimacy. If a child is illegitimate then it should effect the amount of maintainence payable. In most reasonable countries it does, in this (f’d-up) country it does not.

What the court is trying to do here is force men to put their names on birth certificates and give the children their name even though they are not married. I.e. marry them without their consent, is the same as cohabitation bill, making them liable without their consent for child support.

Yes, I have experience with this. For me, if you are not married to the woman when you have a child you have no right for the child to have your surname (despite how much the lawyers and woman may cry) and if you split the child should not be entitled to maintenance (like in Russia) if you split. Certainly less, I pay less. This country is messed-up and say married and non married alike pay same which encourages people not to marry, and despite it all I believe in marriage. This country’s law on legitimacy is messed up since the institution of marriage was undermined by feminism and people have lack of confidence in these (family law) courts.

JamesB - March 3, 2016 at 1:12pm

My favourite child is the one without my name. How messed up is that. Says something about the disengagement of fathers and lack of fathers rights with regards to their children in this country.

JamesB - March 3, 2016 at 1:14pm

Link supporting my arguments:
Historical dealings with this matter and how out of sync modern approach is.

JamesB - March 3, 2016 at 3:38pm

I especially liked the ‘Wages Attachment (Abolition) Act 1870’, how little things change perhaps, we could do with one of those again now. Not that the current politicians seem to express any views at all on this important subject which is a shame on them.

How to support illegitimate children? Well in my opinion from reviewing the subject for many years and reading the above site we should keep state intervention to a minimum as it encourages illegitimacy. Bring back the poor houses perhaps but not much above that as people can and do freeload. If we are to make unemployed work then making mothers support their children seems reasonable to me also.

Andy - March 7, 2016 at 7:14pm

I agree with all comments made.
This fuxxed up country is just pushing hard working fathers to pay more from the salaries and all others money grabbing gold diggers out there, instead of claiming benefits..Typical idiots in policy…
Yet again who or what ever fault and who is to blame is not the issue, what is the issue is the courts injustices of awards paid to ex…
Just watch the “Jeremy Kyle”show its one big joke..
Same as the courts….if you can find one..as they are all closed….God help us when it goes “divorce by E-mail….

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