Illegal names? I didn’t even know there were laws that govern what we can name our children. Sure, there are many names that could be considered bad taste, but illegal?

Parents.com shared 18 Illegal Baby Names You Might Want to Keep Off Your List.

That got me wondering about the laws that govern naming your baby. In the U.S. we don’t have Federal laws regarding naming your child, but we do have State laws that govern what you cannot name a baby.

Turns out many states limit the number of characters that can be in a person’s name and they claim it’s because of software limitations they use for record keeping.

Arizona restricts the parents to 45 characters each for the first, middle and last name while Minnesota’s limit is 50 characters for each name. New York allows 30 characters each for the first and middle name and 40 characters for the last name. Texas and New Hampshire each have a 100-character limit, but don’t dictate which names those characters can be used in.

You also can’t use numbers in a name in some states. This makes me wonder about kids who carry on a family name like Robert James Jones III. If you want a third-generation name, do you have to write it out as Robert James Jones the Third?

Conversely, there are states that allow the number but not diacritical marks, those special characters you see in names of foreign origin such as the accent mark over the “e” in Jose and Matheo or the two dots over the “e” in Zoe or Noel.

AND, did you know that some states dictate what your child’s LAST name will be! For example, if you’re an unmarried mom in Indiana, the baby must have your last name unless you prove paternity with an affidavit. In Louisiana, the child must take the mom’s last name if she married within 300 days of the child’s birth. If mom is married, the child must be given her husband’s last name. In North Dakota, your child’s last name must match one of the parents’ surname, but the parents can choose which one. At the other end of the spectrum, there are other states where you can give the child whatever last name you want.

Finally, most states have a law that prohibits parents from giving their child an obscene or derogatory name.  Doesn’t seem like we’d need a law for this, but then I didn’t know we even had laws about what you can and cannot name your baby!