- What the parents must do
- The Registrar’s policy for assigning a name
- Appealing the decision
- Legislative framework
Parents must register the birth of their child within 60 days.
Sometimes the parents can’t agree on the child’s name. In these cases, the law enables the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages to decide the child’s name.
This Name dispute policy sets out the framework for this process.
On this page
What the parents must do
When parents can’t agree on the child’s name, they must:
- Satisfy the Registrar that they can’t agree on the child’s name
- Choose an option for determining the name.
1. Satisfy the Registrar that parents can’t agree on the child’s name
The Registrar will be satisfied that parents can't agree on the child's name if:
- There is no agreed name on the birth registration, and
- There has not been successful mediation.
No agreed name on the birth registration
|Completed birth registration||No completed birth registration|
No successful mediation
For parents in the above situation:
- The Registrar has offered mediation at the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria and:
- At least one parent has refused mediation, or
- Mediation has not resulted in the parents agreeing about their child’s name.
In certain circumstances parents will not be offered mediation. They will proceed to the next step.
2. Choose an option for determining the child’s name
When the parents can't agree on the child’s name, the Registrar will ask them to choose one of the statutory options. The options are:
- Apply to the County Court for an order to the Registrar about the name
- Ask the Registrar to assign the child a name.
The parents should respond within 14 days, to avoid delaying the birth registration.
If the parents choose different options
The preference for a Court Order will take precedence.
The parent who intends to seek a Court Order must provide evidence of this intent. For example, this might be a copy of instructions to a solicitor, including evidence of Court date. The parent must provide this within the 14 days.
If the parents don't respond within 14 days
The Registrar will assume that the preference is for the Registrar to assign a name.
The Registrar’s policy for assigning a name
In general, the Registrar will assign the name as follows:
- Given names: The given names preferred by each parent, in alphabetical order
- Middle names: No ‘middle’ names unless the parents agree about the middle names. If the parents haven't agreed on the middle name, the second given name (referred to above) will be a middle name
- Family name: A family name consisting of:
- The surnames of both parents
- In alphabetical order, and
The Registrar has discretion, and may consider other factors.
Appealing the decision
If the Registrar assigned the name, without being directed to do so by a Court
Either parent may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for review of the Registrar’s decision. They must do so within 28 days (whichever is the later) of the Registrar:
- Notifying the parents of the Registrar's decision to assign a name, and what that name is
- Providing the reasons for the name being assigned.
If a County Court Order assigned a name
The parents can appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 states:
Section 22: Name of child
- The birth registration statement must state the name of the child.
- However, the Registrar may assign a name to the child if —
b. the birth registration statement is lodged by both parents of the child and they satisfy the Registrar that they are unable to agree on the child's name.
Section 23: Dispute about child's name
- If there is a dispute between parents about a child's name, either parent may apply to the County Court for a resolution of the dispute.
- On an application under subsection(1), the County Court may —
- resolve the dispute about the child's name as the Court considers appropriate; and
- order the Registrar to register the child's name in a form specified in the order.