Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s daughter Shiloh files to officially change surname following parents divorce - legal experts reveal why she might've made this choice

Many children of divorce change their surnames to ‘stay loyal’ to one parent, relationship experts and divorce mediators have revealed

shiloh jolie pitt
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Following Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's divorce, the couple's daughter Shiloh has filed to officially change her surname from her dad's to her mother's, with experts sharing that this is often done by children of divorce to 'stay loyal' to one parent. 

The 2016 divorce of celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie made headlines around the world as fans of the famous ‘Brangelina’ mourned the end of the relationship. But, with divorce enquiries reaching a record high, the split wasn't a total surprise as many couples have made the same leap. 

While some couples choose to stay together 'for the kids,' something that can have damaging consequences on family dynamics, Brad and Angelina separated with Angelina taking primary custody of their six children, Maddox Chivan, 22, Zahara Marley, 19,  Shiloh Nouvel, 18, Pax Thien, 20, twins Knox Léon and Vivienne Marcheline, 15, and Brad having visitation rights. 

Like many parents, they co-parent as divorced parents, though multiple reports suggest that the relationship between not only Brad and Angelina but also Brad and his kids has been a rocky one. 

This rumour has only been strengthened by 18-year-old Shiloh's recent legal request to change her name from Shiloh Jolie-Pitt to just Shiloh Jolie, with her new surname only honouring her mum. The request was filed on the same day as her 18th birthday, something that Theresa Wright, a solicitor at Britton & Time says makes sense as in both the US and the UK, children can only legally change their name without parental permission when they reach the age of 18. 

She told us at GoodtoKnow, "When an individual is 18, they do not need permission from their parents; they can completely change their name, not just their surname, if they wish. If the child is under 18, all those with parental responsibility must consent to it."

Shilo's legal name change is one that Cheryl and Joe Dillon, relationship experts and divorce mediators at Equitable Mediation, believe shows her 'loyalty' to her mother as she continues to fight legal battles with her ex-husband, something that is quite normal for kids to want to do following a divorce. 

“Divorce can be confusing for children, and their emotions are likely to remain heightened throughout the first year and possibly into the second year, depending on the circumstances," they told us here at GoodtoKnow

“During the divorce process, it's common for a child to 'pick a side.' This might happen because they sympathise with one parent, feel the other has been mistreated, or due to sibling rivalry and the desire for attention.

“Similarly to the most recent situation in the Brangelina divorce, this can include wanting to change surnames to ‘stay loyal’ to one parent. This can be an attempt for the child to feel more included in the family unit, or even as a way to reaffirm their identity in a confusing time."

They add that if you're the parent who's on the other side of the divorce, perhaps without custody of the children or you're the parent who's living outside of the former family unit, it's important not to take the child's actions personally should they choose to change their name or show their loyalty to the other parent in any way. 

They said, “Regardless of how your child reacts to the divorce, it’s important not to take their words or actions personally, and act out of love and respect for them."

Similarly, if you are the legal custodian of your kids post-divorce, it's important not to lean into arguments or speak negatively about your ex-partner around your kids, as was one of the biggest things adult children of divorce previously shared when talking about what they wish they could tell their parents now

The experts shared, “It's crucial to set aside personal feelings and speak positively about the other parent for the duration of your children's lives. Separated parents should avoid making negative comments about each other or using children to gather information. This puts children in the role of an informant and will result in them inevitably feeling caught in the middle, experiencing a pull of loyalty and a fear of hurting either parent with their actions. 

“This can increase their anxiety and be harmful to their development. By refraining from bad-mouthing the other parent and consistently taking the high road, you can significantly alleviate your children's feelings of guilt."

In other news, Ryan Reynolds shares ‘important’ parenting tip as he reveals why anxiety has made him a ‘better dad’. Plus, an expert reveals why the term 'Mickey Mouse' degrees is unhelpful for teens making higher education choices. And in relationship news, a couple's therapist reveals why a partner might regularly ask ‘Why is my wife yelling at me?’ - (and they’re not just angry). 

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.