Is It Legal To Give Your Child A Weird Name?

Is It Legal To Give Your Child A Weird Name?

Unconventional names are in vogue right now. Celebrities are naming their offspring after fruit and cardinal directions. Modern day parents are giving their children names based on Instagram filters. It can only be expected the kids will be none too impressed when they grow up and are teased mercilessly at school but what are the legalities around bestowing your child a creative name?

Woman picking baby names image from Shutterstock

My name is Spandas, so you can probably tell that this is a topic that is close to my heart. Strictly speaking, Australia does have laws to ensure parents are sensible with the names they give to their kids. Under the Birth, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, a child must not have a “prohibited name”, which is a name that:

(a) is obscene or offensive, or
(b) could not practicably be established by repute or usage:
(i) because it is too long, or
(ii) because it consists of or includes symbols without phonetic significance, or
(iii) for some other reason, or
(c) includes or resembles an official title or rank, or
(d) is contrary to the public interest for some other reason.

A registrar can refuse to register a name if it fits the bill for a “prohibited name”. Too bad for parents who want to name their child after pop singer, Ke$ha.

In short, you can give your child a unique name but it certainly isn’t a free for all for parents. They have to bear in mind that whatever they decide to call their child should not fall into the “prohibited names” category.

Legalities aside, a child’s name could have huge ramifications for them later in life. There are all sorts of studies that suggest that employers likes to hire people with “normal” names. They could also be teased mercilessly at school (like I was). But an unconventional name is much more memorable. Hell, I’ve lived with my name for over 20 years now and I turned out alright. Ultimately, it’s up to the parents to decide what to call their children. I guess if a child grows up and hates their name they can always legally change it.

Did you just catch yourself wondering if something was legal or not? Let us know and we may be able to answer it in our next Is It Legal? feature.


Log in to comment on this story!