Naming a Child – can the courts intervene?


If you were thinking of naming your child after a notorious poison, think again! Court of Appeal bans mother from naming her child ‘Cyanide’.Following a recent judgement in the Court of Appeal parents are given fair warning to think very carefully before naming their child something which may be construed as emotionally harmful. 

Lady Justice King in the Court of Appeal has banned a mother from naming her child ‘Cyanide’. The Family court at Swansea initially ordered that the mother of twin children, a boy and a girl, could not name them ‘Cyanide’ and ‘Preacher’ and put in place an injunction preventing her from doing so. The mother was determined to name her children as she so pleased and took her case to the Court of Appeal.

The mother was suffering from a psychotic disorder and schizophrenia, worsened by her abuse of drugs and alcohol. The court therefore had to determine whether her parenting capacity was so impaired that the court could intervene and actually prevent a mother, with parental responsibility, from registering a child with any name she chooses.

Lady Justice King gave judgement in the Court of Appeal upholding the decision of the lower court. The court decided that the name ‘Cyanide’ would cause such significant emotional harm to the child that it was right to interfere with the mother’s choice of name. Lady Justice King confirmed that the court does have the power to prevent a parent from giving their child a specific name in extreme cases only, and only with the authorization of a High court judge.

If you are interested and want to read the full judgement, the case citation is C (Children) [2016] EWCA Civ 364.

This case reminds us of the nine year old girl named by her parents ‘Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii’. In this 2008 New Zealand case the parents temporarily lost care of their own daughter for giving her that name.

Interestingly, in New Zealand, parents have been allowed to register their child’s name as; Midnight; Chardonnay; Violence; Number 16 Bus Shelter and twins named Benson and Hedges.

Parents to be, be warned, by following the apparent trend and in the footsteps of a number of celebrities, if you are considering naming your child something completely off the wall please do give consideration to the emotional impact this may have on your child or else face the intervention of the court.

More information

If you would like more information please contact our Family Law Department on 01708 229444 or book a free initial family consultation using our online booking form.

This article was written by Jennifer HerbertFamily Law solicitor at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at April 2016.


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