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Changes to Children’s Names

The power of courts to order a change to the name of a child varies from state to state.

In Victoria, the relevant legislation provides that the only court that can make such an order is the County Court of Victoria. As such there have been several cases in the past few years where an order has been made for a name change and courts with jurisdiction under the Family Law Act (the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia) have declined to make such orders.

However in the case of Leggett & Willis [2014] FCCA 1779, which related to a child born in Victoria, while the Federal Circuit Court acknowledged that it could not order a change of the name on the child’s birth certificate, it still made the order that the name of the child X born (omitted) 2002 is changed to X which the Court determined should suffice for many purposes. The Court Leggett & Willis also looked at the NSW legislation, which provides for a court of the Commonwealth to approve a proposed name change.

In Queensland, where the family law courts have ordered a change of name, such a change may be noted in the registry, but for the name to be changed the Magistrates’ Court of Queensland must approve the change of name. In South Australia, such orders are made by the Magistrate’s Court, in Tasmania by a magistrate, and in the Northern Territory by the Supreme Court. The ACT provides for a single parent application to be made where the child’s name has been changed under a law of the Commonwealth. In Western Australia, the Family Court of Western Australia has the power to order a name change.

By Nicholes Family Lawyers


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