I recently asked an attorney a hypothetical question about naming babies. I wanted to know if you could give a baby just one name, say name it just "Bob." She said you can name a kid anything you want; that's true where we live, but not in all states. Some countries and here in some states restrictions are placed on names that can be used.
Sociologists and the legal system have confirmed that names do matter by making a first impression that can be hard to shake. Studies have found boys with unusual or more feminine names are more prone to trouble, delinquency and prison.
A legal name is one that identifies a person for legal, administrative and other official purposes. Usually a person has a given first and middle name plus a family name. The order varies according to culture and country. Most countries require by law the registration of a name for newborn children and some refuse registration of names considered to be undesirable.
Most states in the United States follow the common law which permits name changing for non-fraudulent purposes. The most common case is when a women gets married she does not petition a court, but simply use a new last name, usually the husband's. Most state courts have held that a legally assumed name (for a non-fraudulent purpose) is a legal name and usable as a true name, though assumed names are often not considered the person's technically true name.
Here in the US name laws vary by state. Some examples:
In Alabama, you can name baby anything you want — last name included. (Some states require baby’s last name be the same as the mother or father, but not Alabama.) Only the English alphabet is allowed. While apostrophes and hyphens are okay, numbers and symbols aren’t.
In Arizona, there’s a 141 character limit — 45 for the first name, 45 for middle, 45 for last and 6 for a suffix. Apostrophes, hyphens, periods and spaces are okay.
Considering how liberal California is, it seems odd but derogatory or obscene names are banned. Only the 26 characters of the English alphabet are allowed, which rules out umlauts and others. Pictographs such as smiley faces or ideograms are specifically banned.
In Nebraska no names that imply objectionable or obscene words or abbreviations are allowed.
In my home state of Ohio the only punctuation allowed is hyphens, apostrophes and spaces. Only letters are allowed, no numbers. My wife, who used to work for a pediatrician, once treated a child whose father (if you can call him that) had wanted to give his kid a name that was to be pronounced "Shith-e-ad". Think about the spelling for a second. No doubt dad wanted to name the kid after his own personality. Child naming laws by State.