Determining the surname of a child born in South Africa can often be a complex issue, particularly when parents are unmarried or not on amicable terms. Here’s a breakdown of the various scenarios and the steps involved in changing a child’s surname:

Scenario 1: Changing the father’s surname on request

If a child is originally registered with the mother’s surname, but the father wishes to change it to his own, both parents must provide written consent to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). The application process is straightforward and can be done online or in person at a DHA office.

Scenario 2: Changing the surname to the mother’s surname

In instances where a child’s surname is registered under the father’s name, but the mother desires for the child to adopt her surname, both parents must again provide written consent. The DHA will process the application and issue a new birth certificate reflecting the updated surname.

Scenario 3: When the father’s details are not included

If a mother decides not to include the father’s details on the child’s birth certificate for any reason, she may do so by providing an affidavit stating her reasons. The DHA will process the application and issue a new birth certificate without the father’s information.

Scenario 4: Removing the father’s name when he is not the biological father

If it is proven that the person listed as the father on the birth certificate is not the biological father, the DHA will remove his name from the record. The biological father’s name may be added to the birth certificate upon providing DNA evidence and written consent from the mother and biological father.

Scenario 5: Litigation when parents disagree

In cases where parents disagree on the surname of their child, litigation may be necessary to determine the child’s best interests. The court will consider various factors, including the parents’ wishes, the child’s age and maturity, and any other relevant evidence.

Seeking assistance from DocAssist

If you need assistance with obtaining an abridged or unabridged birth certificate, DocAssist can help. We can handle the entire application process on your behalf, saving you the time and hassle of dealing with the DHA directly.


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