Ordinarily a child's name is a matter of state law and is provided for under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (SA). Where the parents agree, a change of a child's name can be done by completion of a form at the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.
Where parents do not agree, either may apply to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) for an order changing the child's name [see Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (SA) s 22]. Such matters were previously heard in the Magistrates Court. The Family Law Courts do not actually make orders changing a child's name but may make an order providing for the name by which the child is to be known, the name to be used in enrolling the child in a school, etc. If there are already proceedings for parenting orders and the name is a disputed issue, it may be convenient to make this application at the same time. However, if there are no parenting issues in dispute and the only dispute is as to the child's name, an application to SACAT is the appropriate step to take to determine the issue.
A child of any age must consent to a change of name unless the child is unable to understand the meaning and implications of the change of name [Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (SA) s 26].
One parent may apply to the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages to change a child's name if:
- the applicant is the sole parent named on the birth certificate; or
- the other parent has died or cannot be found; or
- SACAT is satisfied that the change is in the best interests of the child and approves the change.
See Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (SA) s 25(2).
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