The Family Law Act does not provide strict rules on the use of names by a child or a married woman. The court may decide the name of a child if there is a dispute.
In Australia, when it comes to names there are no strict rules to follow. You can use any name you want as long as it is not a prohibited name like names that are offensive or obscene. It is likewise prohibited for a person to use a new name to avoid the law like if he is a fugitive from justice or he changes his name to defraud others.
In the context of family law, a name is more than just a way of identifying a person. First of all, it is a child’s human right to have a name. It is in the child’s best interest that he is given a name that will identify him and dignify his existence. Parentage is also known through a child’s name. If the child is a girl, when she grows up people will know if she is married because she has adopted her husband’s surname. However, there are no specific rules about names even in family law.
There is no law in Australia that requires a woman to assume the surname of her husband. For years women do it for various reasons like custom, family pressure, loyalty, love. A married woman may use her maiden name or combine her maiden name with the surname of her husband.
The husband cannot compel his wife to change her surname to his. However, the same rights that apply to the wife apply to the husband. He has the option to assume the surname of him wife. There is certainly no law that will prevent him from doing that.
The child can have any name that his parents desire to give him as long as it is not one of the prohibited names. The child may follow the surname of either or both of his parents. If there is a dispute on the name of the child the Registrar can assign a name.
Usually, after a divorce a woman who used her husband’s surname would want to go back to her maiden name. All she needs to do is revert to using her maiden name and be consistently known by it. To update her records the woman has to inform banks, businesses and the Australian Passport Office if she owns a passport. The birth certificate of the woman will prove that she was formerly known by her maiden name before her marriage.
A parent who wants the child to follow his surname may file an application with the Federal Magistrates Court if he cannot reach an agreement with the other parent. It will be the court that will order for a change of name if it finds that such change is in the child’s best interests.