Break-ups can be a difficult time for most people. Not only do you have to think about the financial implications, or how it will affect your children, but other less obvious matters may also become contentious.

Sometimes a person may take their partner’s surname.  After separation, that person may continue to use their former partner’s surname.  Whether because of convenience, identity, or simply preference, in some cases this has caused the other partner resentment.

In New Zealand, a person can call themselves by any name unless it is offensive, unreasonably long, or is an official title, rank, number or symbol.  You cannot force any person, including a former partner, to change their name.

This can be extremely frustrating for people who want a clean break from an unsuccessful relationship.  Individuals should therefore discuss the matter with their partner before any name change is made especially if you think it may become an issue on separation.


Please note that Rainey Collins is not contracted to provide Legal Aid, other than in the Treaty of Waitangi area.  We therefore are unable to take on any Civil or Family Legal Aid work. If you require Legal Aid in those areas, you can search the list of Legal Aid lawyers on the Ministry of Justice website.