Before the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) will grant an order changing a child's name, the parent applying must satisfy the tribunal that the change of name will be in the best interests of the child. The non-consenting parent can tell SACAT why the child's name should not be changed, and it is up to the tribunal to make its decision, taking all matters into account.
The Family Court has set out the following factors that a court or tribunal should consider in deciding whether or not a child's name should be changed:
- the welfare of the child is the main consideration
- the short and long term effects on the child of changing the child's name
- any embarrassment that is likely to be experienced by the child if the child's name is different from that of the parent with guardianship and/or residence
- any confusion of identity that may arise for the child if the child's name is, or is not, changed
- the effect that a change of name may have on the relationship between the child and the parent whose name the child previously had
- the effect on the child of frequent or random changes of name.
SACAT takes into account the relationship between the non-consenting parent and the child and the contact that parent has had, or is likely to have, with the child. The Tribunal will also consider the degree of identification the child has with that parent, or with the parent applying (and where applicable, any step parent). If the tribunal makes an order authorising the change of a child's name, the Registrar may then accept the application to register the change of name.
Even where SACAT makes an order authorising the change of a child's name, the change must still be registered at the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry for it to be effective.
Costs apply for both applying to SACAT for an order authorising the change of a child's name, and for the subsequent registration of the change with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages (which includes the new birth or change of name certificate).
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