You web browser may not be properly supported. To use this site and all its features we recommend using the latest versions of Chrome, Safari or Firefox

As recent news suggests, parents are looking towards Instagram filters, The Hunger Games and the Kardashians for baby name inspiration and it begs the question – what are the laws around naming your child?

Many people have reacted with more than just a raised eyebrow when hearing about a celebrity couple’s unique choice of name for their newborn baby.

While Reign and North may be perfectly normal choices for Kourtney and Kim Kardashian, in Australia there are laws that govern what children can be named.

Most parents are sensible about what they call their children and these laws are not designed to take away a parent’s right to name their children. The laws exist to protect children, to ensure they are given an appropriate name – a child’s sense of identity and self-worth is strongly connected to their name.

Firstly, it is important to note that giving a child a name is a legal requirement under Australian law. You don’t have to have a chosen a name before the child is born or even straight after they are born, but parents must register their child’s birth within 60 days and that includes giving them a name.

Some parents follow family, religious or cultural traditions or use a baby name book for inspiration. Others come up with their 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

In Australia, names including Princess, Lord and Anarchy have all been rejected.

A French court recently barred a couple from naming their newborn daughter Nutella because the judge felt the girl would be mocked. They were forced to rename her Ella.

Across the Tasman, in New Zealand a couple who named their daughter Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii also ended up in court in 2008 and were ordered to change her name because it was embarrassing and make a fool of the child.

When it comes to whose surname a child will take, most Australians still opt for tradition. 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 interests.

The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.

Thank you for your feedback.

Related blog posts

Family Law
Is your inheritance protected?

Once you have made the choice to separate, it is likely you have started the difficult process of deciding how to divide your assets. For most people, this process begins with a ‘yours’ and ‘mine’ approach, whereby you separate assets into certain baskets depending on who they belong to. Regardless of your process, it is vital at this stage to receive legal advice to ascertain exactly what it is you are entitled to. It is possible what you want, and what you are entitled to, may be two very different realities. The Family Law Act gives the family courts broad discretion to make orders in relation to financial cases, including orders for dividing assets between parties. Whether you...

Istock 476824114 Blog
Family Law
Four key facts you need to know about your property settlement

When a marriage or a de facto relationship ends, the parties need to finalise their financial ties with one another. This may involve the transfer of ownership of real estate, cash, superannuation or other property from one party to another. For example, if the matrimonial home is in joint names the parties may agree that the house be sold and the proceeds divided. Alternatively, the parties may agree that one party receives the house and makes a cash payment of some nature to the other party to ‘buy out’ their interest. When you are separating, it is important to get legal advice from a Solicitor specialising in family law, in order to determine your entitlements. Any agreement reached...

105625090 Blog
Family Law
Can I change the locks?

“Can I change the locks?” – This must be one of the most common questions addressed by any family lawyer. The simple answer to whether a party going through separation can change the locks on a property they are living in is usually “yes”. If there is no court order which affects that person’s right to occupy the property, then in most circumstances there is little prohibiting a party from changing the locks. However the position can differ slightly depending on, which party legally owns the property. Where the property is owned by both parties Where the property is owned by one party Where the property is leased to you In all circumstances Perhaps the question asked should not...

Istock 475237296 Blog

We're here to help

Start your online claim check now. Or, if you have a question, get in touch with our team.