Changing Your Child’s Surname After Divorce

Changing Your Child's Surname After Divorce - Resolve Conflict Family LawyersAfter the breakdown of a relationship between parents, there is often a wish for the child’s surname to be changed by one of both parents.

This usually occurs when the mother has adopted the father’s surname at the time of marriage and then wishes to revert to her maiden name after separation. The mother may seek to change the child’s surname to a hyphenation of her maiden name and the father’s surname or to just her surname.

The Family Law Act 1975 creates a presumption that both parents together have “Equal Share Parental Responsibility” for the long-term decision making for a child, which includes things like schooling, religion and also the name of a child.

How to change a child’s name if both parents consent:

If both parents are listed on the Child’s Birth Certificate and both consent to the name change then the parents can jointly register an application to register a change of name at the Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The application must be signed by both parents along with appropriate supporting documents and application fee. Visit for further information.


Related Article: A Guide To Co-Parenting


How to change a child’s name if both parents do not agree:

In the event that one parent wishes to change their child’s surname and the other parent doesn’t, then both parties are required to attempt to resolve the matter with an accredited Family Dispute Resolution provider, like Resolve Conflict Family Lawyers. There are some exceptions to this requirement, such as cases involving family violence, child abuse or urgency.

If a resolution still cannot be reached Court proceedings will be required. The court will consider a wide range of factors when determining what is in the best interest of the child. Some of these consideration include:

  • The welfare of the child;
  • The short and long-term effects of the change in the child’s surname;
  • The short and long-term advantages of the child’s name staying the same;
  • Any embarrassment likely to be experienced by the child if their name changed;
  • Any confusion of identity that may arise for the child if their name is changed or is not changed;
  • The amount of time the child has with both parents;
  • The effect which any change in surname may have on the relationship between the child and the parent whose name the child bore during the marriage; and
  • The effect of frequent or random changes of name and if there has been changes of your child’s name in the past.

It is advisable that parties seek independent legal advice before proceeding with an application to the Family Law Courts. An experienced family lawyer will be able to provide advice as to the court processes and the likely outcome of such litigation.

Note: This is general information advice only and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters, please contact us on 03 9620 0088 or email


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