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Changing the Child’s Surname in Turkish Law

Changing the Child’s Surname

Changing the surname is a sensitive issue when considered in the light of the Turkish Civil Code and Constitutional Court decisions. In particular, for divorced families where the mother has custody, recent years have seen significant changes in laws and court decisions regarding the mother’s ability to change the child’s surname.

The Child’s Surname According to the Turkish Civil Code

According to Article 321 of the Turkish Civil Code, children bear the family surname while their parents are married. After divorce, children generally continue to bear their father’s surname. However, recent decisions by the Constitutional Court have taken significant steps towards allowing the mother to change the surname of the child in her custody.

Impact of Constitutional Court Decisions

The Constitutional Court has stated that the obligation for the child to bear only the father’s surname constitutes unequal treatment between parents and violates the principle of equality in the Constitution. In this context, if the child is in the mother’s custody and it is in the child’s best interest to bear the mother’s surname, decisions have been made in favor of the child taking the mother’s surname.

The Supreme Court’s Approach

Following the decisions of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court has begun to issue rulings that the child’s surname should be changed to the mother’s surname. These rulings take into account the child’s interests and psychological condition.

The Process of Changing the Child’s Surname

Filing a Lawsuit: The mother can file a lawsuit in the family court to change the child’s surname.

Court Process: The court evaluates the child’s best interest and the situation of both parents.

Decision: If the court concludes that the surname change is in the child’s best interest, it can change the child’s surname to the mother’s surname.

Changing the Child’s Surname and Its Social Implications

Changing the child’s surname is not only a legal process but also a significant factor affecting the child’s social life. Especially for children in the mother’s custody, changing their surname can provide various social and psychological benefits.

Social Integration and Identity

Changing the child’s surname to the mother’s surname can help them develop a more cohesive identity in their social environment, especially since they live with their mother. Bearing the same surname allows children to express their identity more comfortably, particularly in social settings like school.

Psychological Stability

The confusion caused by bearing a different surname can negatively impact the mental and emotional health of children. Bearing the same surname as the mother can provide children with more stability and a sense of security in daily life.

Ease in Legal and Daily Transactions

Having the same surname can simplify official transactions between the mother and child. Surname conformity helps expedite and smooth processes during school registration, healthcare services, and other official procedures.

Required Documents and Process for Changing the Child’s Surname

The surname change process requires the preparation and proper submission of some essential documents. Here are some basic documents needed in this process:

Lawsuit Petition: The official petition submitted to the court requesting the child’s surname change.

Population Registry: A copy of the population registry showing the child’s current surname and custody status.

Custody Decision: The document of the divorce decision and the court ruling that granted custody to the mother.

Psychological Reports: Psychological assessment reports documenting any negative effects experienced by the child due to their current surname, if necessary.

Court Process

The lawsuit for changing the child’s surname is usually heard in the family court. The court evaluates the case to provide the most appropriate solution for the child’s benefit. A decision is made based on the evidence and reports presented.

Overview of Supreme Court and Constitutional Court Decisions

High courts in Turkey have issued various precedent decisions regarding the change of the child’s surname. These decisions serve as reference points in similar cases and provide a legal basis for children in the mother’s custody to change their surname.

Implementation and Steps to Follow After the Decision to Change the Child’s Surname

After the court decision to change the child’s surname, the process of registering this decision in official records begins. Here are the main steps and considerations in this process:

Updating Official Records

Obtaining the Court Decision: The court decision for the surname change is obtained.

Notification to the Population Directorate: With the court decision, the mother or legal representative applies to the relevant Population Directorate to register the child’s new surname.

Updating Records: The Population Directorate updates the child’s surname to the mother’s surname based on the court decision.

Updating the New Surname in Other Documents

After the child’s surname is changed, updates need to be made in school records, health records, passports, and other identity documents. Applications should be made to the relevant institutions with the court decision for these updates.

Legal Structure and Processes: Changing the Surname of a Child in Mother’s Custody

Legal Infrastructure and Judicial Reviews

The surname change process for children in the mother’s custody is shaped by the Turkish Civil Code, Constitutional Court decisions, and Supreme Court precedents. The legal foundations and steps of this process can be summarized as follows:

Relevant Articles of the Turkish Civil Code: Article 321 of the Civil Code stipulates that married parents give their children the family surname. After divorce, the child’s surname generally continues as the father’s surname. However, the Constitutional Court’s decisions based on the principle of equality have necessitated the revision of this practice in some cases.

Constitutional Court Decisions: The Constitutional Court, considering the best interests of the child, has issued decisions allowing children in the mother’s custody to bear the mother’s surname. These decisions aim to eliminate gender-based inequality and protect the rights of the child and mother.

Supreme Court Precedents: Following the Constitutional Court’s decisions, the Supreme Court considers the child’s social and psychological benefits while evaluating surname change requests. These precedents guide courts in surname change lawsuits.

Lawsuit Process and Requirements

The legal procedures for changing the child’s surname to the mother’s surname are as follows:

Preparing the Lawsuit Petition: The mother or legal representative should file a lawsuit in the family court requesting the child’s surname change. The petition should refer to situations in the child’s best interest and Constitutional Court decisions.

Required Documents: During the lawsuit process, documents such as the child’s population registry, custody decision, and psychological evaluation reports, if any, should be submitted to the court.

Court Process: The court decides whether to change the child’s surname based on the submitted documents and judicial evaluations. The child’s interests are meticulously considered by the court during this process.

Steps to Follow After the Court Decision

The steps to follow after the court decision are as follows:

Implementation of the Decision: After obtaining the court decision, it should be notified to the relevant population directorate, and the child’s population records should be updated.

Updating Official Documents: The child’s school records, health records, and other official documents should be updated with the new surname.


Changing the surname of a child in the mother’s custody is a process supported by the legal infrastructure and high court decisions in Turkey. Properly managing this process serves the child’s best interest while also protecting parental rights. Therefore, the surname change process requires detailed legal preparation and careful follow-up of court procedures.

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Changing the Child’s Surname

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