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Mother banned from naming her child ‘Cyanide’

As we see more traditional names no longer being chosen by parents for their children, we are seeing a change to the trends in the popularity of certain names.  For example, in recent years there has been a decline in the number of children named Gary, Clive and Barry. In their place, names such as Jack and Harry have grown in popularity, perhaps as a result of popular blockbuster movies. However, we are all aware of celebrities choosing more unusual names such as “North”, “Apple” and “Fifi Trixibelle”.

What parents may not be aware of is that it is possible for the Family Court in the United Kingdom to restrict the use of names which they consider may be harmful to the child as they grow older.

Last year for instance, the Family Court in Swansea made an Order preventing a mother from naming her twin children ‘Cyanide’ and ‘Preacher’.

In this case, it was up to the Court to determine whether or not an Order could be made to prevent a parent with Parental Responsibility from choosing a specific name for their child. This is an unusual case but, in the circumstances, the Court ordered that the Local Authority could restrict the mother in exercising her Parental Responsibility.

The mother later appealed this decision and it is reported that she advised the Court that she considered ‘Cyanide’ to be a pretty name linked to flowers and plants, with positive connotations relating to the death of Hitler. The Court of Appeal did not agree and upheld the original decision of the Swansea Family Court, including the making of an Injunction to prevent the mother from formally registering these names for her children.

The Appeal Court determined that the child would be at risk of significant emotional harm if called ‘Cyanide’, and intervention from the Court was required to prevent this. The Court also ruled in favour of preventing the mother from calling her son ‘Preacher’.

This is not the only case in which the Courts across the world have intervened, with names including ‘Nutella’, ‘Facebook’ and ‘Fraise’ (Strawberry) also being banned.

We look forward to seeing what trends 2017 brings!

Kim Busby, Family Law Executive