Your surname is your first connection with your family, which can be the reason for a turnaround in fortunes. In keeping with Singapore’s traditions, a child’s surname represents the link with their biological father and his family, and forms a part of their identity.
But what if you didn’t want that for your child. Then, can you change child’s surname? That’s the question a certain Reddit user by the handle ‘okaykaren’ recently posted on the Singapore community website.
While this was an interesting question, but it also surfaces the unnoticed deep-rooted patriarchy that’s actually written into the Singaporean law system.
Can We Choose A Newborn Surname In Singapore?
Although the question was innocent, it left netizens divided.
Some quoted the rules. As one user wrote, “Law will follow father’s surname unless illegitimate. If you would like your child to have your surname would be best for the father to change to your surname so that the baby will be registered with your surname. If not they have to carry deed poll around till they get their IC. Subsequently if the father want to change back his surname he can do so.”
While others were more forthcoming with wanting to challenge such ‘patriarchal’ rules.
As one user wrote, “Sorry, but can’t this statute be challenged in court? Unless and otherwise a govt can proof that there are legitimate administrative purpose for having a father’s surname, it cannot force ppl to adopt such a convention.”
Either way, a change of child’s surname – specifically in Singapore – is a long-drawn process.
Want To Change Child’s Surname? What Does The Law Say
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Singapore’s Registration of Births and Deaths Act, Chapter 267, Section 10 states that, “Any surname of a child to be entered in respect of the registration of the birth of the child shall be that of the father of the child; but where the child is illegitimate and the father is not an informant of the birth, the surname, if any, shall be that of the mother of the child.”
So, by default, the birth certificate carries the father’s surname.
However, if you do want to change the surname of the child, you need to know about the deed poll procedure.
Change Child’s Surname Using The Deed Poll Procedure
What is a Deed Poll?
To change your name or surname in Singapore, you need a deed poll. This is legal document drafted by a lawyer that formally declares that you will renounce your current surname and take the new surname instead from the date of execution of the deed poll.
It’s a simple procedure and takes place in a matter of few days. It usually costs around $100 in Singapore.
However, in the case of changing the surname of a child (a minor less than 21 years of age), the process adds a few more steps.
A child under the age of 21 years cannot legally request a deed poll. Instead, the parents can do the same in order for the deed poll to affect their surname change at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA).
Here’s how the deed poll procedure works:
ICA requires both parents to consent to the surname change of the child. This is mandatory unless one parent is uncontactable or deceased.
Both parents need to sign the deed poll declaration form in the presence of a lawyer and then submit the document to the relevant authorities.
Change Child’s Surname In Case Of Divorce
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In the case of divorced parents, you still require the consent of the other biological parent to effect the name change.
If the other parent refuses to consent to the surname change, you will have to demonstrate strong reasons for why the name change is important.
Even in the case of sole custody, care and control of the child, you will still need the other parent’s consent to change the surname. However, the ICA may consider changing the name without consent in rare cases.
Court follows a child-centric approach for surname change
The Singapore family law will place the welfare of the child as their foremost consideration when taking into account the surname change of the child.
They will only permit the change if it suits the child’s best interests. The court will consider:
Why do the parents seek a surname change?
How long did the child live with the current surname?
What will be the impact of the surname change on the child?
If the child is mature enough, then it will consider the child’s own wishes
When Does The ICA Reject Names?
The ICA can and may reject certain names if they are:
Belong to famous politicians
Contain honorary titles like “Sir” or “Datuk”
So, if you had plans to change the surname of your baby to “Sirpoopsalot,” sorry to soil your diaper.