Changing a child's name

There can be many different reasons for why you might want to change your children's given names or family name. 

    Applications to change a child's given names or family name must be made to the Western Australian Registry of Birth Deaths and MarriagesThe Registrar will decide whether you can change your child's name. There are different forms to use, depending on what details you want to change and the reasons you are making the application. You will need to pay a fee when you send in the application form.

    If your child's birth was registered in another state, you will need to make an application to change their name in that state.

    Find out:

    • who can apply to formally change a child’s name
    • how to apply for permission from the Family Court if the parents cannot agree to the change, and
    • what the court looks at when considering a request.

    When can I change my child's name?

    You can have the Registry change a child's name on their Birth Registration (certificate) if they were born in WA and:

    • have not turned 1 years old, and you only want to change their given names
    • the child's natural parents have married after the child was born, or
    • you would like to include the other parent's details on the birth certificate (either the father or a person who consented to an artificial fertilisation procedure).

      When you add the details about your marriage or the other parent to a birth certificate, you can also ask to change your child's family name at the same time.

    If you want to change your child's given names after they have turned 1 years old, or change their family name for another reason, you will need to make a full application for a change of name. This can also be done to change the name of children born overseas if they are a permanent resident or Australian citizen living in Western Australia for at least 12 months.

    You can find the right form for your situation, and information about how much you will need to pay, from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages

    Who can make an application for a change of name?

    For any application to change a child's name, the application form must be signed:

    • by both parents, if they both signed the original Birth Registration Form
    • by one parent, if:
      • they were the only parent to sign the Birth Registration Form
      • the other parent who signed the Birth Registration Form has died, or
      • they have an order from the Family Court that it is in the child's best interests to change the child's name,
    • by the child’s legal guardian, if the child's parents cannot exercise parental responsibility for some reason.

    The application forms have more information about what evidence you will need to provide to the Registry.

    What can I do if the other parent does not agree to changing the child's name?

    If a parent who signed the original Birth Registration Form will not agree to change the child's name, you can ask the Family Court for a parenting order to allow you to change your child's name without their consent. This also applies to situations where a child wants to change their name without their parent's agreement. A copy of the Family Court orders must be given to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages with the application form to change the child's name.

    Changing a child's name is treated as being part of a parenting case. The requirements and exemptions about participating in Family Dispute Resolution apply, even if you are not asking the court to deal with any other issue. 

    How does the court decide if a child's name should be changed?

    The court can only make an order to allow a child's name to be changed if it is satisfied that it is in their best interests. In addition to all the usual factors that the court must consider when deciding what is in a child's best interests (including any views expressed by the child about changing their name), the court will also think about:

    • the reasons for changing your child’s name (for example, if you have remarried and want your child to share the same family name as you and their step-family)
    • the short and long term effects of changing their name
    • any confusion of identity for the child if their name is changed, or if it remains the same
    • any embarrassment to the child
    • the effect that changing their name would have on the relationship with the other parent, and
    • how strongly the child identifies with each parent, and with any step, blended and extended families involved.

    If you are successful, the court will make orders that it is in the child's best interests that you have permission to apply to change the name of the child 'from [old name] to [new name]', and directing the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Western Australia to change the child's birth certificate to match their new name.

    You will need to provide a copy of those parenting orders with your application to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

    Can I stop the other parent using a different name for our child?

    You should tell the other parent that you do not want them using a different name for your child. 

    You can apply to the Family Court for parenting orders requiring the other parent to use the child’s registered (legal) name, or to stop them applying to change the child's legal name. You must comply with the requirements and exemptions to participate in Family Dispute Resolution before you can start a parenting case in the Family Court in that situation.

     

    More information

    Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages

     

    Reviewed: 18 May 2018

    Disclaimer

    The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.