Changing the names of children
Who can apply to change a child's name?
Parents can apply to change their child's name.
If both parents are named on the child's birth registration, and they agree to the name change, they can request to change their child's name by applying to the Western Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
There are some situations where one parent can apply to change a child's name, including when:
- the parent is the only parent named on the child's birth registration
- the other parent named on the child's birth registration has died
- the parent provides an order from the Family Court of WA permitting the name change.
Sometimes a child's legal guardian can apply to change a child's name. This includes in situations where the child's parents have died, the parents cannot be found, or they cannot exercise parental responsibilities for their child for some reason.
If a child or young person wishes to change their name but their parents do not agree to the name change, they can ask for permission from the Family Court of WA.
How can I apply to change my child's name?
Parents can change their child's given names (not their family name) when their child is under 12 months of age by completing a Change a child's given name(s) within 12 months of their birth.
If your child is over 12 months of age, parents will need to complete an Application to register a change of name (child under 18 years).
If you are applying to add other details to your child's birth certificate, you can ask to change your child's family name at the same time. This includes, if you are applying to:
- add details about your marriage if you and the other parent married after your child was born, or
- add details about the other parent (either the father or a person who consented to an artificial fertilisation procedure).
If your child is 12 years of age and you are applying to add details about your marriage or the other parent to their birth certificate, and also requesting to change their family name, your child must agree to the family name change and sign the application form.
What can I do if the other parent does not agree to the name change?
If the other parent is named on the child's birth registration, and does not agree to the name change, you can ask the Family Court of WA for permission. The court will only make an order allowing your child's name to be changed if satisfied this is in the best interests of your child.
Changing a child's name is treated as being part of a parenting case. The requirements about participating in Family Dispute Resolution still apply, even if you are not asking the court to deal with other parenting issues.
Some of the common things the Family Court will consider when making a decision include:
- the reasons for wanting to change your child's name
- the short and long term effects of any change
- any confusion of identify for your child if their name is changed or remains the same
- any embarrassment likely to be experienced by your child if their name is changed or remains the same
- the effect the name change would have on their relationship with the other parent
- any views the child has about expressed about the name change
- the amount of time the child has spent with the other parent and is likely to spend in the future
- how strongly the child identifies with each parent, and with any step, blended and extended families.
If the Family Court of WA makes orders permitting the name change, a copy of the orders must be given to the Western Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages with your application to register a change of name.
Can I stop the other parent using a different name for our child?
Tell the other parent you do not agree to them using a different name for your child. If the other parent continues to use a different name for your child, you may wish to apply to the Family Court for orders requiring the other parent to use your child's registered name. You must comply with the requirements about participating in Family Dispute Resolution before you can make an application to the Family Court and you should seek legal advice before applying to the Family Court.
Reviewed: 8 July 2021