What is in a name?

Historically, double barrelled surnames were a sign of aristocracy; an outward sign of wealth and nobility to society. In the last 10 years however, we have seen an increase in the use of double-barrelled surnames, to a point where it has now become commonplace.

There are many reasons why parents choose to provide a double-barrelled surname for their child, including being unmarried when the child was born, the rise in blended families, retention of both names on marriage, the list goes on.

With the rise of blended families, we see instances within our Family Law team whereby one parent has met a new partner and due to a lack of contact between the child and the non resident parent, they seek to change both their name and their  child’s surname to the new partner’s name. In instances such as this, we often find that the Court agrees to a double-barrelled version of the surname, thus the child retains their own familial heritage, whilst including the new family  structure.

As mentioned above, many couples upon marriage are also choosing to retain both names, creating a double-barrelled version. In fact, in 2017, it was reported that 11% of couples between the ages of 18 and 34 double-barrelled their names.

What does this mean for the future?

With the rise of double barrelled names, will we have a future of quadruple barrelled names, where Miss A-B marries Mr C-D, and do they then become Mr and Mrs A-B-C-D ? Also what surname will any child of that relationship have – Master or Miss A-B-C-D  or will an alternative solution be found?

Whilst we cannot predict what will become the new ‘norm’, it will be interesting to see what the future holds and whether a new ‘creative’ name solution is formed. Without doubt, those parents following the modern fashion for double-barrelled surnames are unlikely to have looked too far into the future and the next generation.

Nicholas Clough, Family Law solicitor commented:

“The rise in double-barrelled names is sure to bring some new challenges in the future. With the Courts often preferring to retain a familial link by offering a double-barrelled name for children who are seeking a name change, we have to wonder if we are storing up issues for the future.

We have seen a number of cases where parents have re-married and have sought to change their child’s surname, to their new ‘family’ name. We have acted for parents, both where they are seeking to change the child’s surname and also in instances where a parent is opposed to the change of name. – In some cases, this is surrounded by discussion and disagreement in relation to child arrangements”.

In order to formally change a child’s surname, either a ‘Change of Name Deed’ must be signed and agreed upon by the parents who have parental responsibility and registered, or an application to the court for a Specific Issue Order under the Children Act must be made ( or an application for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent a change of name)  to the family court .  If you would like to speak to a member of our Family team regarding a change of name or any other child arrangement issues, please contact Nicholas Clough on 07538 385956 or Carole Nettleton on 07958 028069 or by email to family@psg-law.co.uk