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Deed Poll Helpline

A comprehensive guide to changing

your name by Deed Poll in the UK

About Deed Polls

Changing Your Name

Reasons for a Name Change


Parental Responsibility


Time Saving Tip: The quickest and easiest way to change your name in the UK is to

Apply For Your Deed Poll Online.


Before changing a child's name by Deed Poll all those holding parental responsibility for the child will need to give their consent. When a person holds 'parental responsibility' for a child they are responsible for the care of a child and have the authority to make important decisions in relation to the child’s life and well-being.


Who has Parental Responsibility?

A married couple both have parental responsibility when they have a child together. If the couple are then divorced this parental responsibility continues, and both parents have the right to be involved in any decisions made with regard to the child’s life.

If the parents are not married mothers automatically have parental responsibility, but the father will only have parental responsibility if: 

  • His name has been registered and appears on the child’s birth certificate. All births registered after 1 December 2003 in England or Wales (4 May 2006 in Scotland and 15th April 2002 in Northern Ireland) will have the father’s name on the birth certificate. If a father wishes to, he can re-register the birth if it took place before 1 December 2003 in England or Wales (4 May 2006 in Scotland and15th April 2002 in Northern Ireland), in order to have his name on the birth certificate.

  • He decides to marry the child’s mother

  • He and the child’s mother sign an authorised parental responsibility agreement.

  • He applies for and receives a parental responsibility order from the courts

  • He applies for and receives a residence order from the courts

  • He becomes the child’s guardian

By living with the child’s mother for a long period of time, this does not automatically give the father parental responsibility.  If something were to happen to the mother, and the parents were not married, responsibility for the child would not necessarily pass to the father. However, both parents have a legal responsibility to financially support their child, regardless of whether they have parental responsibility or not.  

It is possible for friends or family of a child to have partial parental responsibility if they become foster carers for the child. In order to change the child’s name all those holding parental responsibility would need to be consulted with regard to the name change and agree.

Grandparents and stepparents do not have parental responsibility but can obtain it through being appointed as a guardian if one of the child’s parents dies, obtaining a residence orders from the court or through adopting the child.


Importance of Parental Responsibility

If you do not have parental responsibility for a child you are unable to make decisions on the child’s choice of school, forename or surname, religion or  their legal guardian should you pass away or become ill. You may be living with your child and feel you are taking on the financial responsibilities for your child, but do not have any rights or involvement in decisions being made about your child.  

For those who are separated, having parental responsibility does not give the father the right to live with the child or visit them. However, should the issue of custody of the child reach the courts then the father will be looked upon more favourable if he has parental responsibility.


Loss of Parental Responsibility

There are several ways in which parental responsibility can be lost.

  • In England, Wales and Northern Ireland when a child reaches eighteen Parental Responsibility is lost and they are regarded as adults and able to make their own decisions. However, in Scotland the law differs in that Parental Responsibility is lost at the age of sixteen, with the responsibility of giving ‘guidance’ remaining until the young person reaches eighteen.  

  • Parental Responsibility can also be lost when the child is formally adopted, as the new parents will gain parental responsibility for the adopted child.   

  • If the people with parental responsibility pass away, this would also mean parental responsibility has come to an end.  

  • It is also possible for the person with parental reasonability or the child themselves, to apply to the courts for the parental responsibility to end.  

  • If a child is subject to a Care Order then the local authority and the parents will have shared responsibility. However, if the child is in care voluntarily then full parental responsibility remains with the parents.


Changing a Child’s Name  

In order to change your child’s forenames or surname you must have parental responsibility.  If both parents have parental responsibility, they would both need to consent to the name change. 

However, if the father does not consent to the name change the mother can apply to the courts for an order to change the child’s name. The courts will make a decision based on what they feel is in the best interests of the child at that time. If an older child is involved, then their viewpoint will be considered and taken into account when making a decision.

With regard to changing a forename or surname, when the person reaches sixteen, regardless of where they reside in the United Kingdom, they are able to legally change their name.


Time Saving Tip: The quickest and easiest way to change your name in the UK is to

Apply For Your Deed Poll Online.



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