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Family Law Blog

What's in a Name?

Posted by on 24 Jul 2013



Kate Middleton has had the world’s eyes on her from the moment the Duchess announced her pregnancy. With the birth of the new Prince, the speculation over the gender of the new Royal finally ended in the early hours of yesterday morning. However, there is still one more question on everyone’s mind: “What will they call him?”


The “Royal Baby” is not the only baby in recent times to cause a media frenzy. Media speculation and controversy ensued following the recent birth of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's child. Initial reports suggested that the child was named "Kaidence", spelt with a "K" following the Kardashian trend. It has, however, since been confirmed by inside sources that the child has, in fact, been named "North" and nasty (in my view) jokes then followed about North West's name being more suited to a direction on a compass (See



This is not particularly a new media spin, as cruel taunts have also been directed at other celebrities who have given their children 'different' names, such as “Apple” (Gwyneth Paltrow) and “Blanket” (Michael Jackson).


So, whether it’s inside or outside the Hollywood circle, what is in a name? Who decides on a child's name? How can a child's name be changed?


A child's name first appears formally on their birth certificate and, in most cases, the parent or parents listed on that birth certificate have agreed on the child's name. Before the child attains 18 years of age, the child's parents must both consent to any application to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (as it is in New South Wales) for a change of name.


An individual parent can only change a child's name without the consent of the other parent in circumstances where only the first parent is listed on the child's birth certificate. This parent must have been granted sole parental responsibility for a child pursuant to a Court Order or alternatively, there is a Court Order in place permitting one parent to change a child's name.


A child can otherwise apply to change their own name by making an application to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages themselves upon attaining the age of 18 years (see link to Registry website).


A name is a very personal and defining matter for each individual. In many cases, parents see it as very important for a child to carry the roots of their family history in a name (I would know, being a person with a 'double-barrelled' name myself!)


If you have any queries in relation to parenting matters and the law, our friendly Coleman Greig Family Law team will be happy to assist. Phone (02) 9635 6422 or email

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