According to tradition, a wife would change her name after marriage to take her husband’s last name. Changing a name was supposed to help identify a family unit and, in theory, made naming children easier. However, in more recent times, many women have increasingly made the decision to keep their last name or to come up with another name-changing option that works for them. Some women believe that changing their name takes away their personal identity, some may think it means they “belong” to their husbands like property, or others simply like their own original last name more. Whatever the reasoning may be, deciding whether or not to change your name is a personal decision and an important one. Whatever you choose can have legal, practical, and emotional implications.
Couples have become more creative when making name-change decisions. Some couples choose to hyphenate both names, some men take their wife’s last name, and others come up with a completely new name to share. Whatever you decide, the following factors should be considered:
- Romantic traditions
- An already-established professional reputation and identity
- Both parents having the same last name as your children
- Cultural importance or other meaning attached to your maiden name
- Whether a new last name is aesthetically pleasing
- Societal implications of giving up your independent identity
- The inconvenience of a name change (and maybe changing it back if the marriage fails)
You should weigh all of factors seriously before making a decision because a legal name change cannot easily be undone.
If you make the decision to change your name after marriage, you should be sure to take all the necessary steps. You will have to go through the process of changing your name on all of the following and more:
- Social Security card
- Driver’s license
- Lease or mortgage
- Voting registration
- Credit and bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Health and life insurance
- Post office
- Estate planning documents
- Tax withholding documents
These will need to be handled in a particular order, as you will likely need your update identification in order to successfully change your name on most accounts. You will likely need a certified copy (or multiple copies) of your marriage certificate to present to different agencies. Additionally, you should always wait to start the name change process until after your honeymoon. If you purchased any tickets prior to marriage under your maiden name, you will need identification with a name that matches your tickets and reservations. In the event that you decide to get divorced and you have changed your name, you will need to go through the name change process again, provided you decide to return to your maiden name. This will require a certified copy of your divorce decree showing that the judge granted you the ability to go back to your maiden name.
If you need any assistance or advice regarding changing your name or any other legal issue related to marriage, divorce, or family, please do not hesitate to call the law firm of Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton at 954-229-1660 for help today.
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