An adult can change own name by signing a deed poll at the lawyer’s office. How about for the child? A child’s parent can change the child’s name . This is done by the parent signing a deed poll on the child’s behalf.

It is not uncommon after a divorce that some parents want to change a child’s name. This can be done provided that the other parent agrees to it. One has to be mindful that the surname of a child is the symbol of own identify and the link with the father.

In the case that the other parent disagrees, then an application has to be made to the Court for an order to change a child’s name. The Court will not agree to name change especially for surname change unless there are compelling reasons.

Test & factors

The test is whether the name change is in the best interest of the child. This would mean that the parent proposing the name change and refusing the name change have to bury their own personal interest.

The possible factors to arrive at what is best for the child can be:

1)The reasons for the name change.

2)The length of time that the child has been living with the old and new name.

3)The impact of the change in name. For example on the child’ official documents in school and bank records. For instance of a child who has lived with the new name for the past 12 years. Such child would have crossed many life’s milestones and the name would have appeared in the child’s school records, examination certificates or bank account. In comparison with another example of a toddler child. The only possible impact would be the Child Development Account (“CDA”) in the Singapore’s context. The other impact could be the child was already being known others by the child’s name. For example the child’s friends, family, extended family and the people surrounding the child.

4)The importance of maintaining parental link after a divorce. In another words, the maintaining of the link is a matter of the degree of commitment, quality of contact and existence of parental responsibility by a parent towards a child. For example, if the father only sees the child once in over 10 years, then there is little attachment except for his payment of maintenance.

5)Certainly, the child’s wish where the child is of sufficient maturity.

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