Salter v Ashworth

Reference: Salter v Ashworth (1980) CA

Court of Appeal (Civil Division) ↗
29th April 1980

On Appeal from Lancaster County Court (His Honour Judge Edmondson)
1978 No 178

Before (the judges sitting on the bench)

Counsel (the barristers representing the parties)

  • Mr Timothy White (instructed by Messrs Oglethorpe, Sturton & (Gellibrand, Solicitors, Lancaster) appeared on behalf of Peter Salter (the Appellant and original Petitioner)
  • Mr Gareth Davies (instructed by Messrs Hesketh Kilvington & Co., Solicitors, Lancaster) appeared on behalf of Valerie Ashworth (formerly Salter) (the Respondent and original Respondent)


Lord Justice Ormrod —

Lord Justice Eveleigh will deliver the first judgment in this case.

Lord Justice Eveleigh —

This is an appeal from an order of His Honour Judge Edmondson sitting in chambers on 18th February 1980 in the Lancaster County Court, when he granted the respondent’s application for an order that the children of the family, Louise Ann Salter and Denby Peter Salter be thereafter known by the surname of Ashworth.

The parties were married in 1966.  They separated in April of 1976.  The two children are Louise Ann Salter, who was born on 30th September 1967, and Denby Peter Salter, who was born on 3rd August 1970.  They live in Over Kellet, which is to the north of Lancaster, and they go to separate schools in that area.

The appellant father has not seen the children since October 1976.  We have been told that that is the result of some difficulty over access, but that he is a caring father who is anxious to maintain his ties with his children.

In the decree of July 1978 there was incorporated a prohibition on the change of name without the consent of the other party, but in fact gradually, over the years, the children have become known by the name of Ashworth.  The mother is called Mrs Ashworth and the children have been registered at their respective schools, on a date that is not known, as Ashworth, and their medical reports have also been changed into the name of Ashworth.

In considering this application the learned judge heard evidence to the effect of the change that I have just mentioned; he also heard that the father had not in fact seen the children for some 3½ years.  The children had said that they did not wish to see the father, and they are quite clearly completely identified with the mother.  He came to the conclusion that it was in the best interests of the children that they should be known as Ashworth.

I myself can see no reason at all to disagree with that conclusion.  It is a very short matter, but the fact is that the children are completely identified with the mother; they are known by the name of Ashworth and I think it could only be to their disadvantage to have to go through the steps now of changing their name back again to Salter.  That would be an embarrassing process to the children which, so far as I can see, would serve no useful purpose.

I would dismiss this appeal.

Lord Justice Waller —

I agree.

Lord Justice Ormrod —

I agree.

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Orders of the court

Appeal dismissed.