According to lawyer, Fiona Reid, disagreement over what surname to give a child is becoming a common issue and likely to heat up in 2021.

Fiona Reid is the founder of Reid Family Lawyers and one of the country’s leading experts on family law issues.

With the financial impact of the pandemic likely to be felt by most this year, the financial strain is expected to hit couples hard resulting in increased breakups and divorce proceedings.

Not only are couples arguing over what surname to give a child, it seems once they breakup, they are likely to argue over whether their child or children keep their given surnames.

The surname a baby carries is the startling new battleground for parents.

Fiona Reid is helping navigate this new battleground, by answering some of the most common questions parents have around the surname to give their baby below …

Common questions parents have about their baby’s surname …

1. What is the law in relation to this issue?

“Children’s surnames are registered on their birth certificates and can only be changed by consent or with a Court order or if the other parent is not registered on their birth certificate,” says Fiona.

2. Who has the right to determine what surname is given to a child?

Fiona explains: “The parents generally fill in the birth certificate together. If dad is uninvolved or disengaged then mum will make the decision.”

3. What is convention?

“In my experience, if dad is involved, children generally start with their surname,” Fiona says.

4. What if parents don’t agree?

Fiona says: “Mum will have the initial say.”

Fiona Reid is the founder of Reid Family Lawyers and one of the country’s leading experts on family law issues.

5. What avenues are available to parents to solve disagreement, ie, what if parents split up and the mother wants to change the child’s name or have the father’s name removed?

“The mother will have to get the father’s agreement or a Court order to change the name,” says Fiona. “Children’s identity should not be compromised because of conflict between their parents – sometimes there are good reasons for wanting to change a name or have the father’s name removed for example in situations where children and their mum are fleeing violence or because a name has a negative connotation in the community, usually due to criminal activities.”

6. What if a father wants his name added?

“Again this will have to be by agreement or a Court order.”

7. How does this all play out?

“Generally there are avenues of agreement, for example adding the other parent’s name as a middle name or hyphenating surnames,” explains Fiona. “We would always try to reach an agreement before embarking on Court proceedings.”

8. What should parents do in the case of disagreement or a dispute

“Get some legal advice, try to negotiate an agreement and if all else fails provide evidence to a Court as to why a name should/should not be changed.”