change of name

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A natural person (i.e. a human being) may change his or her surname simply by using a different name with sufficient consistency to become generally known by that name. A change is normally given formal publicity (e.g. by means of a statutory declaration, deed poll, or newspaper advertisement), but this is not legally necessary. A woman can also change her surname through operation of law on getting married. A young child, however, has no power to change its surname, nor does one parent have such a power without the consent of the other. (An injunction may be sought to prevent a parent from attempting to change a child's name unilaterally.) When a mother has remarried after divorce or is living with another person, and wishes to change the name of the child to that of her new partner, a court order must be obtained and the welfare of the child will be the first and paramount consideration. A person's Christian name (i.e. a name given at baptism) can, under ecclesiastical law, be changed only by the bishop on that person's subsequent confirmation.

A juristic person may change its name but may be subject to formal procedure before the change of name takes effect; for example, for a company limited by shares, a change of name is possible only on the passing of a special resolution of the company at an extraordinary or annual general meeting.

Subjects: Law.

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