Posted by: shelley | 2008/08/06

4yr unhappy with surname

My 4 yr old is unhappy with her surname, at birth she was registered with her fathers surname (she was born out of wedlock) she now realises that she is the only one with a different surname (my other two children and I have the same surname) and this upsets her and she refuses to be called by ther surname- her father does not have much contact with her but refuses to let me get her name changed at home affairs. My daughter has seen a psycologist and the psycologist has made the father aware of the problem.Do I take this matter to court and fight it the legal route. My child is unhappy and I dont know how I can help her with out causing to much stress in her life.
Date: 5/8/2008

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Our expert says:
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I understand the broad issue, but it is unique in my experience for a kid of 4 to be bothered by their surname as such. I udnerstand that she may have got the impression from others that there is something wrong, when she's Miss X and her mom is Mrs Y, but her upset would be mainly based on others having told her this is odd.
As for the bio father, if he doesn't want to see her, don;t try to push him to do so --- she doesn't need a reluctant or half-hearted, now-and-then dad.
The issue of whether you could do something through the Courts, is a legal question, and you'd need to ask a lawyer. I don't think its unreasonable for you to ask on the child's behalf, if she genuinely feel distress about this, as she's too young to be able to request this of a court by herself ( that'd probably come at age 16 ). Make it about her concerns, though --- it'd weaken your case if issues of spite between you and the biofather were emphasized.
I don't quite see why signatures, etc, are necessary to change the name people call her by at school. Generally, kids would be called by their first name, or a nickname, and great formality is hardly needed.

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Our users say:
Posted by: shelley | 2008/08/07

LOLO: I phoned home affairs and they said the father has to come with me to sign the forms and I also need a letter from him giving consent to have his daughter' s name changed? If you are right then thats great and the problem is solved ?

Reply to shelley
Posted by: Lolo | 2008/08/07

i meaned without him being involved. sory

Reply to Lolo
Posted by: Lolo | 2008/08/07


i had the very same problem but went to home affirs and they changed it with him being involved. go to your nearest Home affairs they will help you there.

Reply to Lolo
Posted by: SHELLLEY | 2008/08/06

Jills- thanks for your words of wisdom and dont worry it will take more that cruel words from bob' s girlfriend to get me down, hell no, its just a pity that in life there will always be someone who gets joy out of someone else sorrow and there is always one person that you think they know everything, when it fact they know nothing!!! I am aware that we can get my daughters name changed when she turns sixteen, but Im sitting with an unhappy 4yr old and right now 16 yrs is a long way away, so how can I deal with the problem now. I have to enrol her for garde one next year and that means I will have to use the name on her birth certificate. At school there is two girls in my childs class with the same name, hence they are called by there surnames when the teacher addresses them, thats were the problem comes in. I have explained this sensitive matter to her teacher and she understands and tries to avoid the surname when addressing my child. Can I enrol her when she goes to grade I with a double barrel surname even though her birth certificate does not state that ? thanks again to all FOR YOUR POSTIVE IN PUT. CHAT AGAIN TOMORROW. TAKE CARE .

Posted by: Jills | 2008/08/06

Very interesting facts I have just read. Never new the legal age is 16 to change the surname? I always wondered about this one as I have a stepdaughter at home with a different surname from me and her father and I know the surname issue bucks her. She is 11 now so I am sure she can waith another 5 years to have her surname changed.

Shelley - You seem like a very caring and worried mother regarding the feelings of your daughter. Don' t be to hard on yourself and don' t take all the negative comments people make to heart.

To all the people with the positive responses to this girls dilemma thank you.

To Bob' s girlfriend shame on you giving this lady such a hard time. Bob' s girlfriend has he got many girlfriends or do you have many boyfriends are you someone elses girlfriend every other day.

To all the cool people out there have a ball and enjoy the quiet day home Cosatu created for all of us.

Reply to Jills
Posted by: anon | 2008/08/06

she can legally change it at the age of 16 without any parent consent at home affairs

Reply to anon
Posted by: shelley | 2008/08/06

Firstly, yes he is been spiteful, he likes playing mind games with people and its his choice that he does not see her, I have tried many times to get him to see her, but he got married last year and obviously his priorities have changed, his other family is more important, but thats something he will have to explain later on in life to his daughter. My boyfriend loves and treats her as his own, he is her father and has been committed to both her and me for the last two year. Secondly I do need the biological fathers signature on the forms at Home Affairs, without his consent I can do nothing. My child is unhappy to the point where she crys when someone calls her by her surname. If I have reports from the psycologist/her teacher and my lawyer can prove without a doubt that this is affecting her then yes I do have a case, but I dont want to put her through that. Even changing her name to a double barrel name requires his premission.(we are using a double barrel name at home)
and she is happy with that, however it is not legal and the father is the only one that can make the change. So what do I do???

Reply to shelley
Posted by: Coco | 2008/08/06

What about changing it to a double barrelled surname - not legally of course but just to help her feel a bit more important than the other kids at school?

Reply to Coco
Posted by: anon for this | 2008/08/06

hi shelley,

this might not come out right but I will just put it here for you to see.

A father can refuse to sign and has every right to do that. Even if he never sees his child again, does not mean you have the right to change the surname.

I don' t think a court will change the surname even if you go that route.

Reply to anon for this
Posted by: Maria | 2008/08/06

Is he refusing just to be spiteful? Or does he think that if her surname changes he will have less rights? Because that is not the case.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Meme | 2008/08/06

How can you do that to your child? go to home affairs and change the surname. why court?

Reply to Meme

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