Meek v Meek

Reference: Meek v Meek (1980) CA

Court of Appeal (Civil Division) ↗
30th January 1980

On Appeal from Manchester County Court

Before (the judges sitting on the bench)

Counsel (the barristers representing the parties)

  • Mr T. White (instructed by Messrs Don & Co. of Manchester) appeared on behalf of Linda Meek (the Appellant and original Applicant).
  • Mr J.R. Foster (instructed by Messrs Lomax Geddes & Co. of Manchester) appeared on behalf of Anthony Meek (the Respondent and original Respondent).


Lord Justice Orr —

This is a mother’s appeal against an order made by His Honour Judge Zigmond In Manchester County Court on 1st October last refusing an application by the mother for an order that the three children of the parties be known by the surname of Merritt, which was the maiden surname of the mother, in place of the married surname of the parties which was Meek.

The parties were married on 30th August 1968 and the three children of the marriage are David, 9½, Emma, 8½ and Philip who is 5½.  On 9th October 1978 the mother obtained a decree nisi on the ground of the father’s adultery.  That decree was made absolute on 24th November 1978.  At the same time the mother was granted custody of the three children and a declaration was made that they should be known by the surname Meek and that that should not be changed.

What has happened is that the children have been called since September of last year by the name of Merritt, the maiden name of the mother, and they have been known by that name up to the present time.  The reason why the mother applied for leave to change the name to Merritt was that the father was convicted on 21st April last year of manslaughter, having been charged with murder, and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

The case the mother put before the learned judge was that the children would become known, although the mother has moved to a new district, as the children of someone who has been convicted in those circumstances unless they can have that change of name.  The father, I should add, had had no criminal record apart from the charge to which I have referred.  The judge dismissed the application by the mother and I do not need to refer in any detail to the findings that he made, but he was clearly satisfied that these are children who will continue to have access to their father.  He was influenced by the fact that, if they were to use another name, it would be a strange thing for them when having access to the father and probably disturbing to them.

On this appeal counsel has said all that can be said, in my judgment, in support, but the judge, in my view, was entirely right in the conclusion to which he came and I would, therefore, dismiss this appeal.

Lord Justice Ormrod —

I agree.  The evidence before the learned judge, in my judgment, was quite inadequate, whatever the mother’s real case may be, to justify the court in granting her application for leave to change the names of these children.  I think, in practice, that the only thing involved is that she has registered the children at school in the name of Merritt.  I doubt whether there is any more to it than that, but I do not feel that the judge could possibly have come to any other conclusion and we could not, in any event, interfere with the position on the present material.  I too would dismiss this appeal.

Mr Justice Walton —

I agree.

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Orders of the court

Appeal dismissed.