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Are There Legal Name Change Restrictions?

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If you want to change your name, there are a few restrictions that you should be aware of. Those limitations are:

  • You may not legally change your name for fraud in order to get away with something or do something illegal such as avoiding debts, keeping from being sued or getting away with a crime of any kind.
  • You can’t change your name to interfere with the rights of other people which usually means that you want to change your name to that of a famous person with the intent to mislead others. Most judges will not allow you to change your name to that of a famous person unless you can convince them you have reasons that are completely unrelated to the famous person and are reasonable in their own rights. Therefore, you can not change your name to “Brad Pitt” or “George W. Bush” without good cause and reasons.
  • You can not change your name to one that would be deliberately confusing, such as punctuation or a number. You can not name yourself “9” or “VII” or even “!”.
  • You can not change your name to one that is a racial slur.
  • You can’t change your name to anything that could be measured as a fighting word, which includes obscenities and fighting words or any word or words that may incite violence.

  There are many people in history who have odd names, and even names that have contained numerals, although most often they are spelled out completely. Even more people are beginning to name their children with proper nouns – words that are words in common English language but aren’t commonly used as names. Some prime examples are:

  • Apple Martin (daughter of actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.)
  • Bluebell Madonna Halliwell (daughter of ‘Spice Girl” Geri Halliwell.)
  • Depressed Cupboard Cheesecake (The child of a couple in Kent, England.)
  • Loser Lane (A New York Police Department sergeant.)
  • Miroslav Šatan. (NHL Hockey Player – last name is pronounced Shah-tahn).
  • Reverend Canaan Banana (The first President of Zimbabwe.)
  • Peerless Price, (A wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills).
  • Picabo Street (Her first name is pronounced it “Peek-a-Bow”, not “Peek-a-Boo” and she is an American skier.)
  • Poppy Montgomery, born Poppy Petal Emma Elizabeth Deveraux Donahue. (An Australian-born actress who starred in the television series the. Poppy’s family has some odd names too – her brother is named Jethro Tull, and her sisters are named Rosie Thorn, Daisy Yellow, Lily Belle and Marigold Sun.
  • Yahoo Serious (An Australian actor known from the television show Young Einstein.)

While it may seem ‘interesting’ to name your child or change your name to something a little odd, there are some names that will be rejected by the courts, even if you are naming a new born child. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the laws surrounding name changes to ensure that the name you want to change yours to is allowed by the state. In most states, you can just assume a name without being required to go to court, however not all states uphold that federal law.

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