Choosing a name is typically the first significant decision parents make for their child -- unless they opt out of doing so, which is totally allowed in some places in the United States!
A recent study highlights some of the strange baby naming laws (or lack thereof), that govern the name game south of the border.
1. No Name Required
The State of Connecticut neither requires a name on a child's birth certificate, nor do they have any laws regarding the acquisition of a name at birth. The same holds true in Michigan where the law doesn't explicitly require that a child be named on their birth certificate.
2. Two Names, Please
On the other hand, Hawaii and Florida are among a handful of states where parents are lawfully required to give their children at least two names; a given name and a surname.
A strange tidbit: if married Floridians can't agree on a first name for their child, the court will step in and choose one for them. Problem solved!
If married Floridians can't agree on a first name for their child, the court will step in and choose one for them.
3. Only Dad's Name
When it comes to a child's last name, most states allow parents to choose between the father's surname, the mother's surname, or a combination of the two. But some states aren't quite as progressive.
In Tennessee, for instance, the baby of married parents must bear the surname of the father or the surname of the father in combination with the mother's surname. If they can't come to an agreement on the last name of their little bundle, then dad's name wins out.
In Louisiana, the child of a single mother will bear her surname only if the father is unknown or doesn't acknowledge the child. If the father is known, the child will bear his name (unless the parents mutually agree to a combination of both their names). [Insert eye roll here].
4. Only Mom's Name
By contrast, "mom's" the word in Indiana, North Dakota, and South Dakota where legislation requires that the child of an unmarried mother bears her surname.
5. Any Old Last Name At All
Some states allow parents to give their children other surnames altogether. In the District of Columbia, parents can choose a last name outside of their own as long as there is a family connection (i.e. the name of a past or current relative).
Kentucky is even more laid back when it comes to a child's last name, allowing parents to give their child any surname they wish.
Names in Massachusetts must adhere to a maximum combined total of 40 characters for no other reason than the limitations of their administrative software.
6. 40 Characters Or Less
Most states prohibit names that are too long -- some by law, and others...more informally. Humorously, names in Massachusetts must adhere to a maximum combined total of 40 characters for no other reason than the limitations of their administrative software.
7. Letters Only
Symbols are explicitly prohibited in several states, as is generally the case with numerals, but numbers spelled out are given the green light across the board. Roman numerals make the cut in Texas, however, as long as they're used at the end of the name.
8. No Profanity
Although obscenities would likely be rejected as part of a child's name in most -- if not all -- of the country's 50 states, they are explicitly prohibited in the legislature of only a handful.
9. English Only
Surprisingly, names with diacritical signs (accents and special characters), are not acceptable in many states, including California, where law unconstitutionally prohibits all characters that are not part of the English language alphabet! Legislation in Massachusetts requires that the characters in a baby's name can be found on the standard American keyboard. Likewise, New Hampshire limits admissible special characters in a baby's name to the apostrophe and dash. These restrictions obviously aren't inclusive of different cultures and ethnicities whose alphabets rely on special characters.
Legislation in Massachusetts requires that the characters in a baby's name can be found on the standard American keyboard.
10. No Rules!
Then there are those states who play it fast and loose when it comes to the names of their constituents, with no restrictions in place. As such, parents with their hearts set on a moniker with special characters for their impending bundle of joy, should consider moving to Delaware, Montana or Maryland.
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