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Illegal names: have you given your kids one?

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The arrival of a celebrity baby always gets the speculation wheel on Twitter and in magazines spinning, often guessing what unique name could be added to the plethora of other unique names.

However, in Australia, there are laws that govern what we can call our children.

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Princess Diana, Glory Hallelujah and New Covernant are all rejected by Births, Deaths & Marriages.

These laws are not designed to take away a parent’s right to name their children, in fact most people are quite sensible about what they call their kids. However the laws exist to protect children and to ensure they are given an appropriate name and a connection to their sense of identity and self-worth.

Giving a child a name is a legal requirement under Australian Law. As a parent, you must register a child’s birth within 60 days, which also includes giving them a name.

For a lot of parents this can be quite a difficult decision. Some parents follow cultural traditions or use a baby name book for inspiration. Others come up with own creative names that may involve unusual spellings or unique pronunciations.

While some of these names may raise eyebrows, most will be accepted under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act.

However, a registrar can refuse to register a name for a number of reasons, including:

• It is offensive or obscene.
• Is too long
• Contains symbols or numbers
• It is not in the public interest
• Is an official title or rank such

Many names have been rejected in Australia, including those associated with royalty and religion. Outside of Australia, names such as Nutella and Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii have ended up in court, where the parents were ordered to change the name because it was embarrassing.

When it comes to whose surname a child will take, the majority of children still take their father’s surnames – but there is absolutely no legal requirement to do this. If a child is born to an unmarried couple, the child will be registered with the mother’s surname, unless both parents agree to use the father’s surname.

If a couple divorces, a parent has the right to apply to have their child’s name change. But it’s not an easy process. The permission of the child’s other parent needs to be obtained before any change can go ahead and if no permission is granted, an application can be made to the Family Court.

Ultimately, the court will have to decide if the name change is in the child’s interest.’


This content was written by Slater and Gordon. For more information, click the logo below:

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