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UPD v UPC [2019] SGHCF 25

Outcome: Appeal dismissed.  


1            The Child took the Mother’s surname and racial group at the time of birth. Subsequently, the Mother changed her surname and racial group on identity documents. On the same day, the Mother changed the Child’s surname and racial group to mirror her change. The Child’s guardian applied to void the change in the Child’s surname and racial group, and this was allowed by the District Judge. The Mother appealed against the District Judge’s decision.

Court’s Decision:

2            As per s 3 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1934, the welfare of the infant was paramount when considering matters relating to the infant: at [48].

3            A child’s name was a symbol of the child’s identity and relationship with the child’s parents. The change of name or surname was a serious matter, and that the Court would not allow for such change unless there were compelling reasons to do so. In deciding whether to allow a name change, the court will consider the effect on the child. At the end of the day, the welfare of the child was paramount and overrode any other consideration: at [99].

4            The court adopted the list of non-exhaustive factors relevant to considering applications to change the name or surname of a child as set out in TDI v TDJ [2016] SGFC 45, namely (a) the reasons for the registration of a particular name or surname for the child; (b) the reasons given by the parent for seeking to change the child’s registered name or surname; (c) the lapse of time between the registration of the child’s name or surname and attempted change; (d) the impact of any change in name or surname on the child; (e) the importance of maintaining a link between the parent and the child through the name or surname after divorce; and (f) the wishes of the child on his choice of name or surname where he was of sufficient maturity: at [100].

5            Even in a situation where a child takes the Mother’s surname when she was registered at birth, it does not immediately follow that when the mother changes her own surname, the child has to change her surname to be the same as that of the mother. Otherwise, the child would have to change her surname whenever the mother does so. Other factors would have to be considered before deciding whether this should take place: at [105].

6            While a child’s name is a symbol of his identity, it is not the only link or bond of the child to his or her parent. A change of surname is not necessary just for the child to know that he was the parent’s child. The maintenance of a link or bond between a parent and the child is not a mere matter of a name or surname on a birth certificate, a deed poll or indeed any other document, but also a matter of the degree of commitment, quality of contact and existence of parental responsibility by a parent towards a child: at [121].

The full text of the decision can be found here.

This summary is provided to assist the public to have a better understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s judgment.

Subject Matters:General children issues

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