Can I change my child's name after separating?

Published 17 Jul 2019

The names we are given are incredibly personal possessions, one we'd expect to hold and cherish throughout our lives, until altered with marriage if we desire. In some cases, however, names harbour associations and memories some would rather forget. Here, we discuss the legalities of changing your child's name following a separation.

How can I change my child's name?

In New South Wales, name changes are governed under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995 (NSW). In the instance of children, however, both parents are generally needed to make a joint application to change the child's name. If the parents cannot agree to apply together, the person applying will need to contact Service New South Wales to further discuss the circumstances. This is important to note if in the instance you can't contact your child's other parent, or if contact has ceased as the result of an estranged relationship or domestic abuse.

According to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995 (NSW), in order to change a child's name, they need to be under 18-years-old, born in New South Wales, or born overseas but living in New South Wales for three years consecutively before the date of application. If the child has a criminal record or an offence that has a punishment of a year or longer in prison, you'll need to advise the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages of your circumstances.

Why might my application be refused?

In cases where your child don't meet the above criteria, it's likely your application for the name change will be denied. Furthermore, if a child has had their name changed in the last 12 months, or more than three times. Additionally, you won't be able to choose a prohibited name. In New South Wales, these are names considered offensive, containing symbols without phonetic significance or that are otherwise problematic.

If you are considering changing your child's name and have failed to obtain the approval of the child's other parent, it's vital to reach out to expert lawyers to help with your application. Malouf Solicitors are experienced in the realm of name changes and family law, and are committed to helping our clients through every step of the process.

For more information, reach out to our team.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

I would just like to say thank you to Anthony who assisted my son in his matter. He is a first home buyer and was pressured into signing a contract prior to obtaining legal advice. The contract was certainly was not the normal straight forward type. To be able to obtain the help and assistance he did from Anthony and rescind the offer the next day, was wonderful. We were able to have a stress free Christmas. I am unable to thank him enough for this. My son and our family will be contacting Anthony when we find the next property.
Kim of Sydney

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