Mother given permission to change sons’ names to protect them from father’s internet blog
The High Court has given permission for a mother to change her sons’ surnames in order to protect them from being associated with their father’s ‘bizarre conduct’.
Sitting in the High Court, His Honour Judge Duggan, heard arguments for and against the woman changing the name of her three year-old twins on a permanent basis in order to protect them from identification via an internet blog published by their father. The blog, in which the father describes the mother as a ‘drug-addicted alcoholic surrogate who has suffered from sexually transmitted diseases’, also publishes a medical report of relating to one of the sons.
The father initially had good contact with the boys but this deteriorated to the point where there was only indirect contact.
His Honour Judge Duggan noted the importance of maintaining a link between the children and their father but said it should be balanced against the facts in the case:
“Against that, the father’s publication of material has been quite insidious. I refer here to his slandering of the mother and to his premature disclosure of the circumstances of the conception. I refer to the publication of details of the intimate operation on the child and his publication of confidential materials from the proceedings.”
The mother had previously been given interim permission to change the surname and the High Court in this case, known as Re: F (Children; contact, name, parental responsibility; HHJ Duggan), was asked by the mother to approve a permanent change of name. HHJ Duggan was persuaded that the name change should be kept in place in order to protect the children, fearing that in the future the boys’ friends could chance upon intimate medical details and accusations towards their mother by searching the web.
You can read the full judgment in Re: F here.
The Presumption of Parental Involvement
In this case the court was asked to consider the link between the sons and their father and how it was maintained by their shared surname.
Recent changes introduced by s.11 of the Children and Families Act 2014 mean that the court has to consider the Presumption of Parental Involvement in its decisions. The presumption is that it is beneficial for children for their parents to be involved in their life either directly or indirectly. It is not a presumption in favour of equal amounts of contact time with the child and does not outweigh considerations regarding the child’s welfare.