Choosing a Child's Name: When Parents Go Too Far

In the News

Celebrity couple Elon Musk and Grimes named their second child Exa Dark Sideræl Musk. Their first child’s given name was X Æ A-12. Would such names be allowed in Quebec?

The Directeur de l’État civil can refuse a name

Parents decide a child’s name together. They then send the name to the Directeur de l’État civil (registrar of civil status).

However, the Directeur can refuse the parents’ choice if the name may bring ridicule upon the child or otherwise harm the child. The Directeur will then invite the parents to choose a new name.

If the parents refuse to do so, a judge may be called upon to decide whether the parents’ choice is acceptable or must be replaced. The parents’ desire to be “original” is irrelevant. The judge must decide the matter based entirely on the best interests of the child.

Such cases rarely go to court in Quebec. However, a judge found the name “Spatule” (spatula) unacceptable as it would likely lead to the child being mocked. On the other hand, a judge found the name “Caresse” to be acceptable and refused to order that it be replaced.

A person can have their name changed

A person can apply to the Directeur to have their name changed. For a child younger than 14, the parents must make the application. The request must be for a serious reason, not a simple whim. The fact that a person is being ridiculed because of their name is considered a serious reason for requesting a name change.

To learn more, see our article Changing Your Name.