Disagreement between parents regarding name of a minor child in Greece
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A person’s name constitutes an incremental element of that person’s identity, while it also reflects its civic status; this is one of those features that escorts and characterizes someone throughout the whole of that person’s public life and practically defines his/ her extrovert behavior; in that sense, a name is about someone’s personality while it also forms part of that person’s status in terms of public security.
First and foremost it needs to be made clear that christening and naming are two completely different things, let alone procedures. According to the provisions of Law 344/1976 which is there to regulate the way Registers operate – please, note that this specific law has already been amended twice, in particular via law 1438/1984 and law 2130/1993 – naming is to be taking place by both parents, and if any of them is not able to attend the procedure, the other one remaining must be in possession of proper authorization document certified by means of a public authority. As soon as this procedure gets under way, the new-born child is to properly obtain his/ her name which is then to be registered with the records of the City Register.
On the other hand, christening is a different procedure which is to be registered in a different way, i.e. practically on the margins of the birth’s register act, while it can also take place by the actual person himself/ herself after he/ she has reached the age of 14. In principle, though, christening is to be taking place by way of a registration performed by any of the parents or the godfather/godmother or even any other relative by blood up to the third line of kinship, and in all of these occasions no authorization of any sort is necessary.
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In a few words, the difference between the two procedures could be synopsized in the following:
Naming, at the end of the day, constitutes a procedure according to which a newly born child obtains his/ her name, while it is also a procedure which is of compulsory nature even if the child has been christened; it is also a procedure in which both parent s have to be involved
On the other hand, christening is merely an optional procedure which ultimately leads to obtaining an official notice of religious belief, while it does not affect at all the procedure of naming –which may happen practically and more or less at the same time of birth; finally, christening may occur without the absent parent’s authorization, while it may as well occur by way of other people’s initiative as provided for by article 26 par. 2 of law 344/1976.
As already mentioned, naming is to take place at the City Register where the child has been born, or where both parents have their permanent residence.
As per the provisions of article of the Greek Civil Code, both parents share the obligation and the right to exercise their parental care on their child. Child care and responsibility is about taking care of the minor child, of the things and assets related to that minor person’s property and altogether, it is about the minor child to be properly represented in any case or even court procedure and trial when it comes to the minor’s matters, be them personal or related to that person’s property rights.
Please, bear in mind that the content of the notion of parental care, as per the provisions of article 1510 of the Greek Civil Code, has profoundly changed given that its previous wording was about “paternal care”; thus, part of that newly-introduced notion of parental care is the procedure of giving a name to a minor child, be it christened and in general baptized, or not, given that the procedure of christening/ baptism as such is not by any means compulsory or provided for by law.
According to the provisions of article 1512 CC both parents are to be exercising parental care, therefore in case of disagreement between them either in total or partially, it is for the Court of Law to decide what is best for the child’s interest; after all, this is the core of law 1329/1983 which amended all matters regarding the child’s matters, even in those cases when parents seem to be at complete odds regarding decisions about the child’s best interest.
It may as well be that only one of the parents gets to have custody following a relevant Court ruling, however parental care gets to be exercised by both parents, and naming forms part of the parental care agenda; thus, in case of disagreement between them, it is for the Single-Person First Instance Court to decide by introducing the procedure described in article 681Β΄Greek Civil Procedural Code (please take into consideration all articles described as follows, i.e. article 1510 par. 1 sec. α, 1512 ΑΚ and 681 Β` par. 1b` Greek Civil Procedural Code, and relevant case-law such as Athens Court of Appeals decisions 4971/1993, 3486/2006 and 558/1995, or Supreme Court decision 240/75).
As per article 15 of law 1438/1984, replacing article 25 of law 344/1976 “The child’s name is to be registered with the child’s registration act of birth following the parents’ certain statement who are to exercise their parental care right, or everything could be arranged solely by one of the parents, on condition that the parent absent has authorized the one present as per a proxy certified either by a public, mayoral or local authority. If one parent is deceased, or not allowed to exercise parental care, naming is to be concluded by merely the other parent. If both parents are deceased, or not allowed to exercise parental care, naming is to be concluded by the appointed guardian of the child. In case such a [naming] procedure is concluded, it cannot be revoked”.
So, even if custody has been attributed to just one of the parents as per a court ruling, it is of compulsory nature, given that parental care gets to be exercised by both parents, to have both of them decide on the name of the child; and if they are at odds, it is for the Court to decide, by putting first the child’s best interest (Supreme Court rulings 417/2005, 631/2002, 1700/2001, 947/1996, 716/1993, 1321/1992 NOMOS). Despite the fact that the child’s best interest as such is not at all so easy to define, it has to be decided at any different occasion what is there to entail. For instance certain living conditions worth mentioning, or prerequisites and certain judgmental opinions that the Court might decide to invoke by taking into consideration common sense, lessons learnt in terms of developmental psychology and child-psychiatry. The Court’s ruling has to be based upon arguments reached in a specialized and thorough manner.
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To recap, naming is a procedure which is about defining a child’s name by registering that name with the City Register ; that specific procedure forms part of the parental care exercised by both parents, thus both of them have to decide accordingly. If they are at odds with regards to the actual name to be obtained by their child, that certain disagreement of theirs is to be resolved by the Single-Person First Instance Court which is to instigate the procedure described in article 681Β΄ of the Greek Civil Procedural Code (articles 1510 par 1 sec. α, 1512 ΑΚ and 681 Β` par 1β` Greek Civil Procedural Code, and a plethora of Greek case-law rulings). The child’s mother is not to decide by herself on the name of the child even if she happens to have custody by law or following a relevant Court ruling, provided of course that there is still a father around who has not abolished his right to parental care, unless there is a certain Court ruling resolving and settling for good the disagreement between parents regarding the issue of the child’s name (please see decisions as reached by Athens Court of Appeal 4971/1993, Plenary Session of the Supreme Court 99/1985, or Supreme Court 556/1986).
What needs to be remembered at all times is that in all these cases where the child has not yet obtained a name, the City Register shall only keep records of the last name whereas and in terms of first name, there will be the indication NNA (i.e. No Name Available), or in Greek “AKO”.