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X and Y (private law – change of name – termination of parental responsibility) [2021] EWFC B24

26th May 2021

Judgment: The two sisters were aged 7 and 2. Their father had parental responsibility for them both, being named on their birth certificates, but was currently serving a term of life imprisonment for the attempted murder of their mother. The mother applied for termination of his parental responsibility, and to change their surname. HHJ Vincent noted that orders depriving a father of his parental responsibility and replacing his surname for another should only be made by a court where there was a solid and secure evidential and factual basis for doing so, and where the orders were in the best interests of the children concerned. In this case, there was a risk of harm to the girls if he were to exercise his parental responsibility for them, and he continued to be assessed as a high risk to the mother and the children. To permit the mother to change their names would be consistent with their welfare and enable her to act protectively. Thus the mother succeeded on both her applications. The father would be discharged of his parental responsibility for both girls and the mother would be permitted to change their names.