A minor child’s name can be changed by the mother without the father’s explicit consent under a few special circumstances. The procedure otherwise, is fairly similar to the procedure when adult applicants wish to have their names changed.
Before delving into the question of whether a child’s name can be changed without a father’s assent, it might be relevant to know the importance of a deed poll with respect to name change in India. A deed poll is an agreement, but the difference is that in a deed poll, the agreement involves just one party and it states the action that would be binding on the said party. The party is required to take action on that action which is binding as per the deed poll.
Ideally, a deed poll can be used to change the name. Although there could be other forms of evidence, a deed poll acts as a primary source of documentary evidence. For instance, when a married woman takes her husband’s surname, the marriage certificate can be used as a piece of evidence, and a deed poll is not needed in that situation. When no other document can be produced for this purpose, a deed poll can be used.
In the mentioned situation, using a deed poll a child’s name can be changed. If the child is 16 years of age or older (or is approaching the 16th birthday), the child can apply for the name change via deed poll, and parental consent is not required for such children to avail a name change.
It may be possible for a mother to change her child’s surname by a Deed Poll without the consent of an absent father (who has parental responsibility) and whose whereabouts are not known. This situation generally arises when a mother wishes to change the child’s name, wherein the child has taken the surname from the father, the father then being physically absent due to judicial separation or divorce.
To change the child’s name without the consent of the father, the following procedure must be taken care of:
What is a Name Change?
The name change in India can be desired by an individual for many reasons, which can be social, religious, or cultural. Women in India, most often opt for the procedure to change their name after marriage. The procedures with respect to having the name changed differ across jurisdictions. While it is lenient in common law jurisdictions it is more stringent in civil law jurisdictions.
It is not very uncommon for parents to want to change the names of their children. In a country like India, there could be various reasons for the same. The procedure for the same with respect to minors is almost the same as it is with adults. The procedure to change the name of the children can be done by the parent without the consent of the other parent under certain unusual circumstances as explained below.
When can a name change procedure be carried out for a child without the father’s consent ?:
Generally, when it comes to the procedure of changing the name of the children, the consent of both parents is mandatory. But in a few specialised circumstances, the name change petition can be approved without the consent of the other parent as elucidated below:
- In cases of legal termination of one parent’s parenting rights, the other parent may change the surname of the child without the permission of the estranged parent
- In a situation where the mother has the sole physical custody of the child wherein, she is not remarried and the paternal rights remain unclaimed, then the mother is vested with the right to change the last name of the child without seeking approval from the separated spouse
- If the mother who desires to change the name of the child is not able to find her husband or the location of the spouse is unknown, the mother could change the child’s name without the consent of the father.
Procedure to Change the Name and Surname of the Child:
While adults can carry out the procedure to change their names themselves, the parents have to take care of this procedure for minor children. The procedure involves three main steps:
Name Change Affidavit
The name change affidavit in which the full name, age, address, the reason for the name change, signature, and all the other formalities are mentioned is to be sworn before a notary or a Magistrate. The mother has to sign on behalf of the minor child in the designated space for the deponent’s signature. The same should be certified by a judge or notary or a Commissioner for Oaths.
An advertisement announcing the change of name with precise information must be published in a national newspaper, wherein it is circulated in the domicile of the applicant. The advertisement should include the applicant’s old name and the changed name, the full residence address of the applicant, the name of the testimony, and the date of the affidavit.
Name Change to be Notified in the Gazette:
This is the final step with respect to the procedure to get the name changed. The changed name is published in the gazette after the stipulated fee is paid. All the required documents mentioned above like that of the affidavit, the newspaper wherein the advertisement was published, and attested passport size photos should be attached.
It might be prudent to hold the copies of the notification of the name change, published in the gazette. This can be produced when it is required to change the name in various official documents like that of the passport, election ID, school records, etc.
Legal Procedure to Change the Name of the Child:
The legal procedure to get the name of the child changed involves a series of Court procedures.
Filing a Petition in the Court:
Each state has the option to file a petition to change the name of a child. To accomplish this, an official petition is to be filed with all the required details, and additional documentation to support the petition is to be submitted in the Court.
Notify the Other Parent Regarding the Change of Name:
The other parent, in this case, the father, has to be notified regarding the change of name of the child, by providing the newspaper wherein the advertisement was published regarding the change of name.
All the Court Hearings have to be attended without fail and if there are any questions raised by the judge to the mother who intends to change the name of the minor child, the same must be answered appropriately. Any objections to the change of name can be raised by the other parent and the judge will make the decision based on the merits of the case.
In short, it is much less complicated if both the parents consent to change the name of a minor child. If one of the parents wants to carry on with the procedure of changing the name of the child without the consent of the other parent, then the former must prove that the other parent has effectively abandoned the child for a considerable amount of time. As in any legal procedure, the stated proposition also has its own challenges. But when the same is carried out by seasoned professionals like us here at Vakil Search, the process can be streamlined to a great extent and can be accomplished expeditiously at a sustainable price.