In short, yes.
A parent cannot change a child’s surname by themselves unless they are the only person with parental responsibility. Even then, if the other parent objects a Court Order should be made.
When deciding if a child’s name can be changed, the Court has a duty to decide what is in the best interests of the child and thus they may agree or disagree to the name change.
Applications to change a child’s surname are usually only successful when everyone having parental responsibility for the child gives their written consent. If there is a Residence Order in place, there will automatically be a condition that the child’s surname cannot be changed without the written consent of every person with parental responsibility or the Court.
If a person with parental responsibility is absent from the child’s life, it may be possible to change a child’s name via deed poll if their whereabouts are unknown and reasonable steps have been taken, and can be proven, to try to make contact.
If consent is not provided to change a child’s name by one parent, an application can be made to the court for a Specific Issue Order. The applicant would have to show that it would be in the child’s best interests for the order to be granted. A child’s name is considered an integral part of their identity and thus the court does not take these applications lightly.