The first name, like the last name, is immutable. This principle laid down by the law of 6 Fructidor Year II (yes, August 23, 1794!) And still in force, means that the first names attributed at birth will remain the same until death.

But like any principle, there are exceptions.

And fortunately ! Think of all the first names that have flourished in the wake of American series such as Sue Ellen, Bobby or Stringfellow Hawk (There it's hard!), Not to mention the nostalgic for Alcor, Actarus, Albator ...

Let's face it, before 1993 you couldn't name your child whatever you wanted. This choice was submitted to the good grace of the registrar. He could, if he thought so, forbid you to give a first name not appearing on the calendar, or worn by great historical figures, by simply refusing to enter it on the register. Then it was up to you to wage an epic fight in front of the judge to convince him to accept your choice.

Everything changes with the law of January 8, 1993 (which modified the law of 11 Germinal year IX! Yes…. a law of 1800). From now on, the civil status officer has the obligation to register the first name of your choice on thebirth certificate. In absolute terms, this means that nothing stands in the way of you calling your daughter " Daenarys of the Typhon, mother of dragons, the unburnt ... ».

Finally, a priori! Because if the registrar, your spouse, or… your grown-up daughter felt that such a first name was too difficult to wear, they could well have this first name which you liked so much changed.

The right of reserve of the registrar

In this case, it must be assumed that the parents have chosen a common first name which does not please the registrar. He must first register the first name in the register of civil status, since the law of 1993 deprives him of all discretion, but he can then make a reservation that he will address to the Prosecutor.

The reservation is only founded if the first name chosen is contrary to the interests of the child or prejudices the family name of a third party (Yes, calling your child Rothschild or de Gaulle is an infringement of the patronymic rights of families. above).

Once notified, the public prosecutor alone has the opportunity to seize or not the JAF for the change of first name.

The procedure is contentious since it opposes the parents to the public prosecutor who will summon the parents before the JAF in the form of summary proceedings or on request (the prosecutor does not have a specific procedure to seize the JAF).

Change of first name following disagreement between parents

Yes, the other parent wanted Ernestine, her grandmother's first name and Game of Throne is not her thing ...

The first name is an attribute of parental authority, this means that in the event of joint exercise of parental authority a parent can make certain decisions alone (including the choice of first name), the agreement of the other parent will be always presumed until he disagrees.

The unhappy parent will be able to seize the JAF preferably by request in the form of summary proceedings, because the first name in terms of identifying an individual is a difficulty which must be resolved very quickly.

The proceedings are oral, so the office of a lawyer is not obligatory.

The judgment rendered by the JAF is not accompanied by provisional execution (the civil status of the child will not be changed until a final decision is obtained).

The decision may be appealed 1 month from its notification.

To know: The choice of the child's first name being an attribute of parental authority, the competent judge on the choice of the first name will be the JAF who can:

  • either endorse the choice of first name,
  • or consider that it is contrary to the interests of the child.

In the absence of agreement with the parents on another first name, he will automatically assign another first name and delete the non-compliant first name from the civil status registers.

Mention of the decision will appear in the margin of the child's civil status documents.

A first name that is not in the best interests of the child means that it sounds pejorative, ridiculous, complex or coarse.

Cases where the JAF will not be competent in matters of change of first name:

- As part of a full adoption. It is the judge of the TGI who will modify the first name of the child to facilitate his integration into his new family.

- In the context of a change of nationality. To facilitate his integration into the community, the person concerned may, in the year of granting French nationality, request the francization of his first name by decree (law of 25 October 1972). Once the year has elapsed, the competent judge will be the JAF.

The change of first name at the initiative of the person concerned

Please note that the justice reform of the XNUMXst century provides for entrusting the town hall of the place of birth, and no longer to the JAF, with the processing of requests for a change of first name. It will be up to the civil status officer who considers the request not legitimate or that the first name chosen is contrary to the interests of the child to seize the public prosecutor who may ultimately decide to seize the JAF.

With this new law, only disputes will be submitted to the JAF. Details will be provided with the publication of the application texts.

Anyone showing a legitimate interest can request to modify or change their first name (article 60 of the Civil Code). The competent judge is the JAF.

In the presence of a minor, this right can be exercised by their legal representatives. If the child is over 13 years of age, consent must be obtained before proceeding.

The registry must communicate the request to the public prosecutor for an opinion. If he intends to challenge it, the procedure will be contentious and if he abstains from any intervention, the procedure will be free of charge. In any case, if debates are scheduled, the prosecutor must attend (article 800 of the code of civil procedure).

The competent JAF is that of the place where the applicant resides, or of the place where the birth certificate was drawn up. If the applicant is a foreigner, and his birth certificate is archived in Nantes with the central service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the competent JAF will be that of Nantes.

In this procedure, the presence of a lawyer is compulsory (article 60 of the Code of Civil Procedure).

Unlike the other decisions of the JAF, the judgment is not accompanied by provisional execution (the change of first name will only be effective once the decision has become final).

Namely: The public prosecutor can appeal the decision. The appeal is open 15 days from the notification of the decision.

The ruling is sent to the civil status officer who holds the birth certificate to register the decision alongside the birth certificate.

Details on the notion of "legitimate interest" in changing your first name

Legitimate interest is a different concept specific to each specific case that it is up to the judge to assess. One thing is for sure, it doesn't have to be personal convenience.

It should be noted that requests relating to a second or third first name that one would like to delete or interchange are not considered legitimate. Indeed, among all the first names registered on a birth certificate, everyone is free to choose the one they like and can impose this choice on the administrations. There is therefore no need to refer the matter to the judge for these changes.

Case of recognition of a legitimate interest by case law

In the case of the prolonged use of a first name different from the one entered in his civil status, the request will be legitimate if it is proven that for a very long time (since childhood or better, since birth) everyone has been calls and therefore knows you and recognizes you under this single first name.

But the request will not be considered legitimate if this change comes from your sole will, if you force your entourage to call you differently overnight.

The adopted child born under X will have a legitimate interest in changing his first name to take over the one which, given by his biological mother, initially appeared on his birth certificate.

The court of cassation recognized that it was in the legitimate interest of a person born in Algeria whose name had been Frenchified when obtaining his French nationality, to use a first name in accordance with his origins, since his wife and children had Muslim first names.

Change of first name and change of sex

The Court of Cassation recognized as early as 1975 that any person had a legitimate interest in choosing a first name in line with their morphology and physical appearance, without having to carry out a sex change procedure to modify their civil status. (cass. civ. 1st, December 16, 1975)

It should be noted that the modification of the sex in the civil status will be granted only after therapeutic modification. If it takes place, consideration of the change of sex obeys the principle of respect for private life and the change of first name will be carried out without having to demonstrate the existence of a legitimate interest.

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