“What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – so says Juliet about Romeo in Shakespeare’s famous play.

Amongst the matters that Family Courts have to deal with are arguments about children’s names. Sometimes the dispute is about a first name, but usually the dispute is about a surname.

In any dispute about children that comes before the Court it must consider as the primary consideration the best interests of the child in any decision it makes.

In disputes about names the other factors the Court would consider would include:

  • The age and self-awareness of the child;
  • The short and long term effects on the child of changing the child’s name;
  • Any embarrassment the child may feel if the child’s name is different to the parent, or other children, with whom the child lives for the majority of the time;
  • Any confusion of identity that may occur if the child’s name is changed, or not;
  • The relationship and involvement of the other parent, and the extended family of that parent;
  • Any cultural connection or affinity of the child or the child’s parents;
  • Any other facts the court considers relevant.

Whilst it does not happen in every case, hyphenated names are increasingly common in society generally, and accordingly it is not uncommon to see disputes over surnames resolved by ordering a hyphenated name for the child.

Perhaps like Juliet, one needs to realise the child is the child, regardless of the name, and often the best interests of the child would be that there be no dispute at all.

Macpherson Family Law are experts in relation to all aspects of Family Law, Separation and Divorce, including in relation to disputes about children.  If you need help with a Family Law matter and don’t know what to do, contact us – we do.