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Legally Changing a Child’s Name in Ontario

  • Consent Requirements: Changing a child’s name requires the consent of all lawful custodians and, for children over 12, the child’s consent.
  • Non-Custodial Parent Notification: Non-custodial parents must be notified of the name change application, though their consent is not required.
  • Legal Advice: INB Family Law LLP provides expert legal guidance on the Change of Name Act and related matters.
Legal Change Of Name

A Brief Exploration of the Change of Name Act

A name holds great weight, and most people typically do not change the name they were born with unless material changes or major life events occur prompting a need to change their name. In the practice of Family Law, it is not entirely uncommon for a client to pose the question of whether or not they are able to change their child’s name or if the custodial parent may choose to do so. Following a separation or divorce, parents looking to close one chapter of their lives and move towards the next often feel inclined to shed the identity of their former partner. This may also include changing their child’s name. This can often be an area of contention and one that is fraught with several emotions.

Requirements Under the Ontario Change of Name Act

The Ontario Change of Name Act establishes instances in which a person can change their name or their child’s name and the required steps to do so. If you are a child over 16 or if you are the custodial and decision-making parent wishing to change your child’s name, you will need to submit an application along with the following:

  • A statutory declaration;
  • Any required acknowledgment of notice;
  • The consent of every person who has lawful custody of the applicant or a copy of the court order dispensing with such consent;
  • A statement of a person who knows the applicant confirming that the residency requirement has been met;
  • All birth certificates, certified copies of birth registrations, and change of name certificates that are in the applicant’s possession. If the person was born outside Canada, then documents to establish and authenticate the person’s identity are required;
  • If applicable, a request for a name change to a single name;
  • A police records check, if applicable; and
  • The required fee (ss. 7(1) and 12.1(1)).

Focusing on Consent Requirements

For the purposes of this blog post, we will focus on the requirement of consent. Consent to change a child’s name requires the consent of every person who has lawful custody of the child and even the child themselves. For children over the age of 12, applications to change their name must include the child’s consent as long as they are able to consent. If consent cannot be obtained, the person who wishes to change the child’s name will need to apply to the courts for an order allowing them to forego the child’s consent.

Issues of Consent and Notification

For those who do not have lawful custody of the child, such as the non-custodial parent, grandparents, or others, the issue of consent is quite contentious. Interestingly, the Change of Name Act does not require the custodial parent’s consent. While the consent of a non-custodial parent is not required, notice of the application for the child’s name change must be given to every person who is lawfully entitled to access to the child. A failure to do so can result in a finding that the name change was obtained by fraud. Furthermore, if a parent who does not have decision-making responsibility does not want the child’s name to be changed without their consent, they can either request an order that the child’s name not be changed without that parent’s consent or they can request that such a clause be inserted in any separation agreement.

Seeking Legal Assistance for a Name Change

If you have questions about changing your child’s name or the Change of Name Act, please contact us to book a consultation. Our team of skilled and experienced lawyers at INB Family Law LLP is here to help you and provide sound legal advice.