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Periodically a client will ask if it is possible to change their child’s last name, from their former spouses’ name to their own, for example changing the child’s last name to their maiden name so the child and parent have the same last name.

Firstly to apply to change a child’s name you must have legal custody the child. Further there cannot be a Court Order or Agreement that prohibits the change of the child’s name. So carefully review your Court Order or Agreement to see if this issue has been already dealt with.

Requirements for Changing a Child’s Name in Ontario

In accordance with the Change of Name Act [1] there are a number of requirements that have to be met before a child’s name can be legally changed, for example the child must:

  1. be 17 years of age or under;
  2. not be married; and
  3. lived in Ontario for the past twelve months prior to applying for a name change, or since birth if the child is under the age of one year.

If the child is sixteen years of age or older, and wants to change his/her own name then they can apply to change their own name but would complete the Application to Change an Adult’s Name, rather than use the application form for a child.

Consent vs. Notice

There is a difference when written consent is required from the other parent or the other parent only has to be provided with notice to the Application to change the child’s name. To determine how to proceed you have to look to the Court Order or Agreement dealing with issues related to your child. Do you share joint custody of the child with the other parent, or do you have custody and the other parent is entitled to access to the child?

In the case of joint custody, where both you and another parent have been granted legal custody of the child, then you will have to obtain written consent from the other parent to change the child’s name legally.

If the child is 12 years of age or older the child will have also have to provide written consent to the name change being sought.

If one parent alone has legal custody of the child, then they can successfully apply to change the child’s name. It is necessary to provide the original or Court certified copy of the Court Order or Separation Agreement, with the Application. If the other parent has access to the child, by Order or Agreement, then it is required that they are provided with notice of the Application to Change a Child’s Name. It should be noted that the access parent cannot stop the name change unless they proceed to Court to obtain a Court Order. As part of the Application process the access parent is provided with a Notice of Change of Name form to sign. If the access parent fails to respond and does not return the Notice form they are to sign, then the parent applying for the name change will include with the name change Application evidence that the access parent was provided with notice of their intention to change the child’s name, such as a copy of the registered mail receipt, showing the name of the person entitled to notice, their address and date the Notice was sent.

Additionally a Guarantor’s Statement will have to be completed. The purpose of the Guarantor’s Statement is to confirm how long the child has resided in Ontario. A Guarantor can be the child’s school principal, judge, lawyer, doctor, Indian band Chiefs, etc.  The Application sets out the exhaustive list of who can be your Guarantor.

If the name change is approved then the Office of the Registrar General will send out a Change of Name Certificate. When the child was born in Ontario a new Birth Certificate setting out the child’s new name will also be provided with the Change of Name Certificate. If the child was born in another province or territory, it will be necessary to contact that province or territory to obtain a new Birth Certificate.

The Application to Change a Child’s Name form provides a lot of helpful information, but if you require assistance, have any questions about this, or any other family law issue, please contact Andrea Cooley at andrea.cooley@siskinds.com or 519.660.7782.

[1] Section 5 of the Change of Name Act, RSO 1990, c. C.7

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