A name is something, that for many people is a key part of their identity and illustrates their connection to loved ones. However, there are many reasons why a person may wish to change their name.

A person may wish to change their name to symbolise a new chapter of their lives. For example, an individual may change their surname to mirror their partners.  Some individuals may change their name as a way of self protection. For example, a defendant might change his or her name so that he or she cannot be identified. With families becoming more and more diverse, it is not uncommon for there to be several surnames held within one family unit. Individuals within the family, may wish therefore, to share the same surname in order to create a sense of unity.

How can you change your name?

  • By Reputation – An adult can change his or her name at any time by adopting the use of a new name, so long as the person thereafter is identified by their new name.  Therefore, technically, there is no need to enter any formal legal process in order to change ones name. However, the difficulty with this method arises when an individual needs to ‘prove’ their new name to institutions such as the passport office, or the bank.
  • By Marriage – This is, unsurprisingly, the most common way that an individual will change their name. When married, a woman will usually adopt the surname of her husband. Official institutions will usually accept a marriage certificate as a way of proving a change in surname.
  • By Deed Poll – The most common way of ‘proving’ that your name has been changed, if you cannot rely on a marriage certificate, is by deed poll (otherwise known as a change of name deed).  A deed poll is a legal document, which once executed (signed and witnessed), will ‘prove’ your change in name. This is something that we can do for you at our office, for a fixed fee.

Changing a child’s name

Where the child is aged under 16, then everybody with parental responsibility has to agree to the name change. However, whilst some Fathers might not have parental responsibility, it is still considered best practice, and advisable, to gain their consent. Once the written consent of both parents has been given (along with anybody else who has parental responsibility), then the name change can be carried out by the parent(s) on behalf of the child by deed poll.

If the child is over 16, the child can change his/her own name, providing that both parents have agreed.

Changing a child’s name is a serious step to take, and so if there is any disagreement between parents, or those with parental responsibility then legal advice should be sought.


If you would like advice on this or any other area of Family Law we have a large and friendly team here at David Gray in our offices in Newcastle city centre and South Shields.  Call Louise Law on 0191 232 9547 or email here at louise.law@davidgray.co.uk for more information or to arrange an appointment.