Vol. 47 No. 4 (1999)
Research Article

The Law and Newborns' Personal Names in the United States

Published 1999-12-01



A number of legal questions related to the naming of children whose parents are citizens of the United States are addressed: Must these children be given personal names? If so, do restrictions exist on what those names may be, or how soon after birth they must be given? Can a newborn's personal name, once recorded on a birth certificate, be legally changed without the intervention of a court? And, if such intervention is necessary, is it pro forma or could the court deny a proposed change, and if so on what grounds? The statutes and caselaw governing newborns’ personal names are reviewed, the general conclusions being that the government and legal system have so far chosen to intervene very little in such matters (at least compared to the level of intervention in many other countries), and that when such laws exist at all they tend to be quite lenient.


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