British passports

Changing Your Name Quickly And Easily1st Sep 2021

by Anna Burton on 1st Sep 2021

Contact Anna Burton

Why It’s Important To Change Your Name

Divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership are the main reasons why people want to change their name.  

And it’s not just about getting emotional closure after an unhappy relationship – though that it is important.

There are also important legal reasons: you may experience difficulties travelling abroad if the surname on your passport differs from that on your child’s passport. Find out more here (view the Change of Name paragraph).
 

Need To Change Your Name? Book A Free Chat


Other Reasons To Change Your Name

  • Family – perhaps you’re getting married or entering a civil partnership and you want a double-barrelled surname. Or maybe you want to feel more part of a new family (such as a step-family).
  • Safety – to make it harder for a controlling, abusive or violent former partner to find you.
  • Inheritance – it may be a condition in a will that you change your name. You may not inherit if you fail to do so.
  • History/tradition – you may wish to continue (or restore) a family name from the past – especially if that name is prestigious. Or you may wish to avoid or play down any real or perceived connections with a notorious historical figure.
  • Practicality – your existing name is difficult to pronounce and/or spell.
  • Fear of discrimination – you worry that your name’s ethnicity might prejudice your chances of getting a job. (Such discrimination would be against the law.) Or you may wish to re-ethnicise a name that’s been anglicised in the past.
  • Gender change – you may want a new name to reflect your new gender. You may prefer a non-binary name.
  • Shortening a name – you have one or more middle names you don’t like.
  • Artistic purposes – you’re a musician, you want to change your identity and/or establish a stronger legal connection with your work.

Or you may simply dislike your name. After all, you didn’t choose it. 


Can I Revert To Using My Maiden Name?

Yes – very easily. You don’t need to go through a separate legal process to go back to using your birth surname. This will be covered by your decree absolute.  


Do I Have To Change My Name After Divorce?

No. You can keep your married name if you prefer. You may have been married for a long time and may be better known by your married name.


How Easy Is It To Change Your Name?

In theory, you could change your name simply by announcing it to the world. But that’s not much use when you need to prove your identity. Sooner or later you’ll hit a bureaucratic snag.

So you’ll need a Change of Name Deed.  This is an important legal document. It will help you to apply for a passport or driving licence.


Who Can Use A Change of Name Deed? 

You must be aged 16 or more to change your name. Generally, you don’t need your parents’ consent – but in exceptional circumstances they can overrule your wishes and apply for a court order preventing your name change until you are 18 years old.

You must have mental capacity at the time you sign the deed. You must understand what is happening and be able to retain that information. You must be able to use that information as part of the decision-making process – and be able to communicate your decision (by talking, sign language or by any other means).

It is important to note that mental capacity simply covers your ability to decide – not whether or not your decision was the right one.


Changing Your Child’s Name

You can change your child’s name but only if everyone with parental responsibility agrees.

What if one parent doesn’t agree? You can apply to court but you would have to prove that it’s in the child’s best interests, based on the welfare checks in Section 8 of the Children Act 1989:

  • the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child (in light of their age and understanding)
  • their physical, emotional and educational needs
  • the likely effect on the child of any change in circumstances
  • their age, sex, background and any other relevant characteristics
  • any harm suffered (or risk of being suffered)
  • the capability of parents and other relevant persons to meet the child’s needs
  • the range of powers available to the court.

It is also possible to change a child’s name if the father is absent . But you must be able to prove that you have taken all reasonable steps to trace them.

Importantly, there is a distinction in law between the child’s legal name and their ‘known as’ name. Their legal name will appear on official documentation – such as medical or school records. Their ‘known as’ name may be used on less official paperwork or it may be the name used by their teachers, for instance.

The name that appears on the child’s birth certificate is less likely to change because this is an historical record. But it is still possible to amend it if the parents had given the child a different name and if the birth were registered in the past 12 months.


How Much Does It Cost To Change Your Name?

Not as much as you might think. We offer a convenient fixed fee service for £125+VAT (or £150+VAT for a child where there are two people with parental responsibility). And for that you’ll get a lot of legal work.

You’ll soon discover how time-consuming the process can be if you try to do it yourself online.

The forms can be confusing and you’ll still need to get someone who has known you for 10 years or more to swear an affidavit in front of a solicitor anyway. So it makes more sense to leave it to the experts.

Ask us to do the work and all you need do is turn up and sign the document. It will be effective the moment you sign it.

There’s also another downside to doing it online. There are lots of questionable websites that appear to be the government but will charge more.


How Long Does It Take?

Four weeks is our usual estimate but we can sometimes complete the process in around two weeks.

In an emergency, it is possible to complete a change of name in three days – but that depends on the availability of a solicitor.


How Much Time Would I Need To Spend With A Solicitor?

Not long – initially only 15 minutes on the phone so we can take your instructions. And then another 15 or 20 minutes when you come into the office to sign the document.

You don’t have to spend much time with us at all. Just long enough to give us your old name, new name, reason for the name change, and your contact details.

We do all the hard work. So you’re free to enjoy life.


Who Else Needs To Know About My Name Change?

Changing your name is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Not least because of all the added administration that goes with it.

You’ll need to alert organisations including your:

  • bank, building society, credit card and store card providers, pension provider, mortgage lender, IFA, investment companies, insurers
  • clubs, societies and associations
  • council
  • doctor, dentist
  • DVLA
  • employer, HM Revenue & Customs
  • HM Passport Office
  • internet, landline and mobile phone providers
  • mail order companies
  • motoring organisations
  • professional institutes
  • school, college, university
  • social media platforms
  • TV Licensing
  • utility companies.


Get Expert Legal Advice

Need to change your name? Get expert legal advice from Coles Miller family law solicitor Anna Burton at our Bournemouth office