There are two ways in which you can change the name of your child. One is through an application to Births, Deaths and Marriages, and the other is seeking a ‘specific issues order’ from the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
Changing the name through Births, Deaths and Marriages
If both parents agree to the name change, or if there is only one parent recorded on the birth certificate, or one parent is deceased, then it is simply a matter of making an application to Births, Deaths and Marriages. The child must also consent to the name change unless they are unable to understand the meaning or the implication of the change. The Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages must also approve the new name.
If the parents do not agree then the parent wanting the change must apply to the Magistrates Court of South Australia. The Court will then decide if the change of name is the in the child’s best interests.
If the other parent cannot be found, then the parent may apply to either the Registrar or the Court to change the name, however they will have to show that they have made all reasonable efforts to locate the other parent before changing the name.
Changing the name in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia
A specific issues order needs to be made in the same way that any other parenting order is made under the Family Law Act. This means that the matter must first go to Family Dispute Resolution, and only proceed to court if the parties are unable to come to agreement. Of course, Family Dispute Resolution can be skipped if there is child abuse or family violence. The Court can make an order to stipulate the name by which the child is to be known. While this doesn’t change the name on their birth certificate, it is the name in which the child can be enrolled in school etc. The court will only ever make an order to change the name if it is considered in the best interests of the child.
Which avenue should I choose?
If you want to change the name of your child, especially if your partner is not consenting, it is important that you seek legal advice as to the best avenue to take. Contact Chris Kummerow of Culshaw Miller Divorce & Family Lawyers to assist you with an initial consultation to help you decide the right path.