Taking Spouse's Last Name, or Not
Berkeley Parents Network >
Parenting, Families, & the Community >
Taking Spouse's Last Name, or Not
I didn't change my last name when I married my husband.
Both our kids have my husband's last name. Now that our
children are getting older I'd like us all to have the same
last name when it comes to family things (school events,
what my kids' friends call me), but I don't want to change
it for everything else (work, paperwork). Is it going to
work to just switch last names whenever I feel like it?
Should I consider changing my name legally to a hyphenated
version for consistency's sake? Would love to hear from
others who have done this.
A friend told me years back that her last name that everyone
knew her by was not really her legal last name, but that she
started calling herself by that name after her 2nd marriage,
and in the meantime everyone knew her by that name and that
she even had credit cards in that name. I took her advice
last year when I moved cross country and started calling
myself by my husband's last name in private circles (school,
church, local services like the piano tuner) - for exactly
the reason that you mention, to make it simple for everyone
else that we have one family name. In the mean time
everybody here knows me by that name, and I've gotten used
to being called by that name. For work and all formalities I
still use my own legal name. The only time it gets
complicated for a moment is when someone needs to write me a
check for a reimbursement or something, and I have to
explain that they'd better use my legal name. Another thing
you need to do is to tell people at work that you are known
under this other name, in case the school calls or
something. For me changing my formal name is a bit
complicated because I have a foreign passport and would need
to get the INS involved, too much hassle so I never
considered it. But as far as I'm concerned it totally works
to have a different name for different situations.
Your question was interesting. I also never changed my last
name when I married (my kids have my husband's) and I did
consider it when my kids entered school. I do not want to
change my name. I got married in my mid-30s and it's a part
of me. My 5yo asked me why my name was different and it was
a good chance to explain to her why I kept it, tho a bit
difficult for her age to understand. I was prepared to use
the family last name for school if it was an issue and I
don't get upset if people use it, but honestly, it just
hasn't been an issue. The teachers know I'm her mom and no
one questions it. I feel like I gave up a lot by not having
my kids take my name, so I'm sticking to the last shred of
feminist ammo I have! LOL.
I've been using a whole variety of name constructions since
I got married. I never made any legal changes because it
sounded like too much trouble, and I continue to use my
maiden name on all financial documents. I have never had
any problems except once when my mother wrote me a check to
my husband's last name only and I was unable to cash it. I
use my husband's name on non-official stuff, a hyphenated
name on publications, and a hyphenated name with my students.
to those who want to change their name after the fact, i
was told this by an oakland city clerk.
simply head to the court house & get married again...
lol. you don't have to be divorced to remarry your spouse
and then you can avoid the paperwork of doing it later.
i missed the original question but wanted to offer this.
i didn't change my name when i married years ago for all
the stated reasons that i completely feel and agree with.
that said, i may consider it at some point because i
believe it would mean more for my wonderful husband to do
it, than to me to not. perhaps to mark a big-oh
women's names do not traditionally go to their children
true, but then men do not get to experience the joy of
carrying a child. i've come around to thinking perhaps
carrying the father's name is the balance. women give
birth, men give their name.
not judging any alternatives as i have been staunchly my
maiden self for decades. just softening up a bit.
happy to share more
is silly so there was no pressure there). When I got
pregnant, the whole name thing came up again. I was going
round and round, too, so I decided to wait until the baby
was born and see if I had a strong feeling one way or the
other. The baby is now 9 months old, I still have my
maiden name and have no plans to change it. If or when I
feel an overwhelming urge to have the same name as my
husband and son, I'll change it. This is definitely an
advantage of living in N CA. If I still lived in Nebraska,
I think I would have felt much more external (which would
have caused internal) pressure to change but I just
haven't felt it. I know I'm my son's mother, he knows it,
everyone I care about knows it and that's good enough for
me...for now, at least.
I kept my name after getting married and still have it after
having two girls. The girls have their dad's last name and
my last name as a second middle name. I was told that this
is good to do so that they are legally linked to me (for
passports, etc.). We also gave them middle names that are
from my side of the family, so there is a little more of a
connection to me. I've worked in schools and now have a
child in school and there are SO many families whose moms
have different last names. It's just not a big deal in that
way. And I haven't found that I have a problem with feeling
''like a family'' either because we have different last names.
I like that I'm showing my girls that we are a family, but
that I can keep my own identity too. That being said, I do
know women who eventually changed their last names to their
husbands' after the children came, because it felt right to
do so. You have time to make this decision.
--Kept my name
About a decade ago, I was in a similar spot. I was a lawyer
who very much liked her last name. I married a guy with a
pretty great last name, who despite his feminist leanings,
secretly yearned for me to take his name -- especially after
we had kids. I finally took the plunge and changed my last
name, keeping my maiden name as my middle name. It was a
struggle. In my social circle, this was an unusual thing to
do -- most of my friends were puzzled and some seemed
offended (''what, your husband owns you now?''). I had to
deal with a few raised eyebrows when I went into court and
used my new name. I'm one of those who has a hard time with
disapproval, and as stupid as it seems, the judgment really
bugged me. The new name just didn't feel like me, and it
took me about 5 years to get used to it. I wished I'd kept
my original name legally and professionally, but then used
my married name socially (in Christmas cards and preschool
rosters). It doesn't really bother me much anymore
(finally!), but my two cents would be to try out your
married name informally for a year or two, see how it feels,
and change it legally/professionally only if you feel very
certain. It won't bother your child, I can tell you that --
it's more common than not for one parent to have a different
I didn't change my name when I got married. I had always thought ''If I like
name better than mine I'll change it'' but when I actually got married I
didn't see any reason to change my name. My husband's name was fine, I didn't
dislike it, but in the 20th/21st century giving up my identity to take my
husband's just seemed silly to me.
We have two kids now and I haven't seen any issues, legally, logistically,
emotionally from having a different last name than my husband and children. It
is a common situation and everyone is used to it. My kids still love me and my
marriage is just as strong.
Now don't get me started on giving up my job when the kids were born... whole
different kettle of fish!
SAHM with my own name
Even if you don't formally change your name you can still use your
"married" name for things like church and school if it's easier, and keep
your name officially and for work. If you do this, I would also make it
a point to do all of your home repairs in the married name. That's the area
where I have a problem - calling the plumber and trying to remember "was I
Jones to you?" Other than that, it's easy, and kind of nice to have two
I say if you don't want to do it then don't do it. My
husband and I have been happily married for 10 years and
have a 5 year old. I kept my name, he kept his and after
much discussion, we gave our son his last name. (Which we
decided based on who had the least common last name, to help
keep that name alive.) I can honestly say that it has never,
ever impacted my life in a negative way, or that of my
son's. He knows I have a different last name and it just is
how it is and there is nothing strange about it. You should
do what feels right for you.
I kept my maiden name after I got married. Also most of my friends kept their
maiden name. Now I and most of my friends have a different last name from our
children. I feel it's a bit empowering in that a name does not create a
relationship of love and closeness with my children. I am wondering if
someone is effecting this change of heart about your name, since it sounds like
you really like your name. I also think it's interesting that you didn't see
your mate as a ''family'' but that only with children will become a family. I
it's important to see what is the essence of the relationship separate from
society may impose on us. But of course it's personal and it is how you
personally define what is a family. If that definition include ''sharing the
last name,'' then you probably should change your name. Good luck!
I changed my last name to my husband's after our baby was
born. I actually filled out the paperwork while I was
pregnant, but I couldn't get a court date (Alameda County)
before my due date, so I went when the baby was around 8
weeks old (not a big deal, husband waited outside for an
hour with baby). I used the Nolo Press book for how to
change your name in California. The hardest part was having
to change through the DMV and SS because you have to go in
person (so I highly recommend doing this before the baby
arrives if possible). As far as the social aspects, changing
to my husband's name was easier than expected because we had
already been married a while and I was ''used to'' his name. I
don't miss my maiden name at all. I like that our family has
the same name and realized it's just a name after all. It
took a little while for my colleagues to get used to but I
didn't care as much as I thought I would (having a baby
changes what you care about!).
wish I'd done it earlier
I struggled with this question as well while expecting my
newborn son. I was also not inclined to hyphenate my name,
and I'm very attached to my family name - it's defined me
personally and professionally for a long time. Our solution
was to use my last name as my son's middle name. Our son
has my husband's last name and his middle name provides the
obvious link to me - and we feel very unified.
So, I kept my last name, husband kept his, and son is graced
with both of our names...
Best of luck!
Mom of 4 month old
I didn't change my last name when I got married. There
wasn't a problem with my then-husband's last name. It
just wasn't who I was and I didn't think getting married
meant I had to give up the name I had lived with for 28
years. Our son has his dad's last name, and that works
out just fine. And now that I'm divorced, I'm even
happier that I never changed my name.
Do what feels right for you
Have done it both ways. First marriage (no kids), with my name only. Easy,
best arrangement, but kids make that arrangement not work as well.
Second marriage (with kids in the plan) and I did change my name. First, I do
prefer my maiden only, but as a kid who had a step dad (and therefore my
parents' name was not the same as mine), I actually simply took my step
dad's name after a move to a new state for a while just to make the name
issue not always be such a PIA. No more being told that I had not paid for my
field trip, because my name didn't match the check, and so on and so on...
So, I took my husband's name in this marriage, because I felt differently
about it than I had the first (kids planned). This ended up being a mistake. I
am an artist, and I had a pretty good catalogue of work under my maiden
name, which I wished to remain connected to--but I did not want to have to
deal with name issues as I did when I was a kid, so I stuck with my husband's
Recently, I finally decided that it was most certainly in my best interest to
have my maiden name, so I went with the old fashioned take-my-maiden-
as-a-middle. No hyphen, no long name for the kids to deal with. It's all about
me, and my history. No one else really needs it. Okay, so my son's middle
name is my maiden, so yeah, I do have more complex feelings about it, but
the idea that it's really my name to deal with is the heart of the issue.
So, I it seems to be working for me, and folks can still make the connection to
my old work and history without bogging things down for the kids and
making it difficult to fill out forms.
First, a little of our history. My (female) partner and I
were together for 9 years before we had kids (twins), and
I'm the biological mom. We decided the kids would have her
last name (seemed fair since they have my genes), and I
didn't want to be the odd one out. So I changed my name
about a month before they were born. My maiden name became
my middle name and her surname became my last name (I'm not
a fan of the hyphen, but did want to keep a nod to my
family). Overall it's been easier/helpful that the kids and
I match, since I'm the primary caregiver. I have a
(straight) friend that didn't change her name, and she gets
called ''Mrs. Kids' Last Name'' frequently, even though she's
''Ms. My Own Last Name.'' Also, I like that we are the
''Smith'' family, not the ''Jones and Smith'' family. But there
is no right/only answer these days, and you should do what
feels right/best for you. And you can always change it
later if you don't do it initially.
ps I will admit that changing my easy to spell WASPy last
name to a name that doesn't look like it sounds has been an
adjustment for me...
I married young and changed my name then. Now that I have
2 kids, I am especially glad I did because logistically I
think it is so much easier when everyone in the family has
the same name! I have no regrets at all about changing my
When I got married, I kept my maiden name as my middle name
and took my husband's name. I did this solely because we
knew we wanted to have children and I liked the idea of the
family having one common name. I do not hyphenate, but
routinely refer to myself stating both names. When our
first was born, we gave her two middle names -- one of our
choosing and my maiden name. I do not expect her to
say/write all of these names when identifying herself, but I
like the fact that her given name reflects her full familial
I grew up with step parents, step siblings, half siblings -
and in total 5 different last names in my family. So when I
got married, I took my husband's last name so we could all be
unified in name. But, yeah, after 33 years I was pretty
attached to my maiden name too! Rather than hyphenate, I
legally dropped my given middle name and changed it to my
maiden name. I've been happy with that decision!
I come from Spain,were women do not change their name and I
felt strongly about keeping this tradition because my name
is a big part of my identity, so I did not change my name
even after we had children, and when the children were born
we hyphenated their last names, again following the
tradition in Spain.
This has not represented any problem in terms of legal
documents (we travel every year internationally) or at
school, etc. Sometimes people(e.g., realtors or others
offering services) address me as Mrs. [my husband last
name], and I just ignore the title...
Happy to keep my last name!
I did not change my name when I got married, and we gave the
kids a hyphenated last name. Flash forward to 30 years later
and one kid uses hyphenated name the other two use either of
the last names interchangeably or just their dad's name, AND
the grand kids have only the last name from the male side,
which I don't like! Not sure what the moral of that story
is, other than kids really hate hyphenated last names as
they are a real hassle to fill in forms or just explain to
Sorry, guess that is not much help:
not in name only
I don't think it matters anymore to most people if children have different
than their parents. I took back my maiden name after a divorce and my child
had a different name. It didn't seem to cause any of us a problem.
My husband and I have an almost two year-old daughter, and
we got married a few months before she was born. I have
kept my last name, and it has not been an issue at all so
far. In fact, it probably makes things easier b/c my
daughter has the same first name as me, so in the future it
will be clearer who is who! If my husband had REALLY
wanted me to change it, I probably would have, but neither
of us felt strongly about it and it was easier to just keep
it (for professional reasons, for not going through all the
paperwork, etc.). Also, my husband's last name is fine,
but I do think my own last name sounds better with my first
name so I have a ''vanity'' reason not to switch! That said,
if it ever seems like it would be better to switch, I am
open to doing so in the future.
two name household
I kept my maiden name for 10 years, but after having 3
kids, it got to be too much of a pain in the butt to have
a different last name than my husband and boys. I made my
maiden name into my middle name, so I felt like I was able
to keep a bit of my family history. I'm glad I changed it -
it feels more cohesive this way.
Have you considered giving your child _your_ name? That's what we did -
- at my husband's request -- because there are many cousins on my side
with whom he wanted our children to share a name (whereas he is an
On the flip side, I remember, as a 14-year-old, my mother finally caving
and changing her name. I was so moved by how sad she was, that I
vowed to give her that name back -- and have -- as the first name of my
I was in the same situation 7 years ago. I decided that as attached as I
was to my maiden name, I wanted the same last name as my children. I
decided to make my maiden name one of my middle names (I now have
two) and use my husband's last name. We also gave our children two
middle names, one of which was my maiden name. We don't regret the
decision one bit.
Four names mama
I can tell you this - in my son's preschool in Berkeley
there are 44 kids. 11 of them have parents listed with the
same last name, leaving 33 kids with parents with different
last names! So its incredibly common around here to keep
your maiden name.
kept my maiden name
I kept my name when I got married (22 years ago). We now
have two kids, ages 12 and 16. My reasoning was much the
same as yours: work considerations, liking my ethnic
surname, hyphenating being unwieldy, etc. It has been
absolutely no big deal, and we totally feel like a unified
family. Also, I don't care at all if people address me by my
husband's last name. I never correct them because it isn't
big deal. Also, it is easier for little kids to address me
and my husband as Mr. and Mrs. X.
Another thought: You can always change your name later. (It
can be a pain in the butt to change from your married name
back to your maiden name.) So, maybe give it 6 months to a
year with your name, and if at that point you really want
the same name as your kids and husband, then change it.
Don't change your name. Kids with last names different
from their parents are VERY common these days. I was
worried about that too, as my children have a different
last name and it never comes up as an issue and no one has
ever judged me or even wondered why, I don't think. I was
married once before and changed my last name to that of my
husband and I regretted it. I went from having a
distinctive last name to a much more common last name and
hated having the same name as other people. I felt like I
lost all of my individuality. After we divorced I happily
waited in line at the DMV to get my old name back. I
don'tthink it matters as much as you might think.
My partner and I each have our own last name, while our
daughter has his name as a second middle name, and my name
as last name. It hasn't been a problem for us at all in
terms of having a unified family identity. Sometimes people
mix up the order of her middle and last names, or add a
hyphen where there isn't one, but it's not a big deal.
- Keeping my name
I, too, felt conflicted about the name change when I got
married (not wanting to lose my family name but also wanting
to have the same surname as my future kids). As a
compromise, I removed my original middle name (which didn't
really have any family significance), now use my maiden name
as my middle name, and use my husband's surname. The change
went something like this: from Sarah Jessica Parker to
Sarah Parker Broderick, for example. It felt like a
mouthful at first, especially because my husband and I both
have unusual surnames, but (eight years and one child
later), I'm so happy that I have both family names. My
sister ended up doing the same thing, when she got married,
and is also very happy with her decision. Whatever you do,
I hope you feel the same with your decision.
A Rose by any Other Name
I have 2 sons now 6.5 and 4.5; coming up on our 8th
anniversary next week. I kept my maiden name...and
sometimes still wonder about the decision...but,
interestingly to me, it seems that way more than half of the
moms at our preschool and our elementary school have kept
their maiden names. Sometimes tricky to initially figure
out who goes with whom...but the school publishes a
directory which makes it easy to keep all the players straight.
I did add my ''married'' name to my driver's license (First,
Middle, Maiden, Married) even though it is not my ''legal''
name so that I could immediately get to my husband or kids
if they were in an accident and in the ER. This has caused
a few challenges since the re-newed Patriot Act. I was not
able to use my drivers license as ID when I signed our house
loan or when I fly (this wasn't a problem at all until last
year) and my car insurance is in the wrong name even though
I have explained over and over again that it isn't my legal
name. Oh well. For the loan and to fly, I use my passport.
Anyway, my kids and my husband are perfectly fine with me
having my own name.
I kept my maiden name. I went back and forth for a long time, especially when I
got pregnant, but I'm glad I kept it. It's easier for work reasons. I didn't
lose my identity. Apparently it's a bit of a pain to change. My kids have never
been confused and we gave them all my last name for a middle name so it feels
even more like I'm a part of them.
A couple sets of our friends gave some kids his last name and some her last
name. Another set of friends gave girls her last name and boys his last name.
One friend of mine uses her husband's last name exclusively, but haven't
Ms. My Last Name
You might also include your last name in your daughters. Or
take your husband's name as a middle name.
Our situation was different. It doesn't sound like there's
any cultural pull/push in your case or a question about last
name. So I offer this just as a way of think about the names
in an out-of-the-box way.
Here's what we did:
my husband has a Welsh background; I have a Russian
background. A long time ago we said any girls would have my
last name and any boys would have his last name. (he had a
hard time accepting that when the time finally came though).
We agreed on what felt like a 50/50 solution:
Welsh first name (his heritage/preference);
two middle names: my grandmother's name & his last name
My last name (not shared or hyphenated)
I think that's fair. 50 / 50 on first / last names
50/50 on middle names which don't carry as much weight.
I feel pretty happy about the situation. I feel like her
name merges us as a family.
I understand your dilemma, and I'm sure you'll hear a lot of
advice on this, but the good news is that if you decide not
to change your name (I didn't), the Bay Area is an easy
place to make it work. Easily half of the parents I know
have different last names. In fact, there are so many
diverse, mixed families here that schools, doctors,
dentists, childcare providers, insurance companies, etc.
don't even blink at a child who has a different last name
than a parent.
To us the biggest dilemma was whose name the child would
get. We made the decision based on gender and the sound of
the whole name. So my son has my husband's last name, and
we chose to make his middle name my last name. I find this
helps reassure me on official documents when we are
traveling, for instance. Still, we've never once had a
problem or been questioned.
Of course, so far, we only have the one child. The next one
is on the way, and that raises the question: do we give the
second one the same last name or my last name? I'm not
worried. Whatever we decide, we'll make it work.
Before marriage, I never thought I'd change my name but
ended up doing so. My legal name is my given name with the
addition of my husband's last name (not hyphenated).
However, I kept my maiden name at work. That compromise
works well for me as I get to use both names and my kids and
husband and I all have same last name. Plus, my maiden name
is much easier to spell which is great being that I give my
name out all the time at work.
I don't think you should change your name at all! My mom had a a different last
name from mine growing up, and now I do from my own kids, as well. There
haven't been any issues. Not sure what difference it would make/how life would
be easier, were I to adopt my husband's name.
Your name is your choice. If it makes you happier to have a name everyone in
your family shares, change your name.
Personally, having a different last names hasn't been a problem for my kids or
my family mostly because many kids and parents have last names that don't
match. When I married, I chose to not to rename myself and continued to use
my family name. We decided to give our children my husband's family's name
as their last name. We included my family name as a second middle name. So
each of our kids has four names: first, middle, second middle name which is
my family name, and last name which is my husband's family name. I'm
happy my kids share my family name, too. But in everyday life, nobody really
knows--or cares--that my family name is part of their names.
Through situations like mine and blended families, many children have
parents who do not share their last names. So my kids don't stand out as
different at school, church, clubs or teams. When I fly alone with my kids,
never been questioned about our names being different. With the exception
of my mother (who was uncomfortable when I chose not to become Mrs. my-
husband's-last-name) and my mother-in-law (who was worried that her
grandkids might have my last name), nobody has ever questioned my kids,
me, or my husband about why our names are different.
My name works for me
I didn't change my name when we got married for several
reasons. We decided that sons would get my husband's last name
and daughters mine. So, our first child (a boy) got his name,
and our second child (a girl) got mine. If we had two kids of
the same sex, we talked about giving one his dad's last name
and the other mine. It's worked out fine so far. I am too
entrenched with my name as part of my identity to ever change
Many of the prior posts said keep your name. I am a
feminist who swore I'd never change my name, but I did when
we married because it made my hubbie VERY happy. He said it
was my choice, and didn't push, but (in a co-dependent sort
of way--different issue!) I knew he would be deeply pleased
if I did, and that it would be very symbolic for him.
I realized that I was opposed to being *forced* (by law or
convention or expectation) to change my name, not the change
itself. Keeping my old name wouldn't have been the
political statement it was back in 1975 when I swore
allegiance to the cause. To my mind, we won that battle.
In the end it was very important to him, and not as
important to me. I'm very glad I made the change.
Also, in my world (jewish) there is a tradition around a
change of name to represent times of big transition, eg
changing your given first name to one that fits your newly
evolved adult self in your early 20s. That fit for me, too.
I kept my name (20+ years ago). I was established in a
legal career, and didn't want to change my name. My kids
have my husband's name. Now that I'm a judge I'm glad my
husband and the kids have a different name; it minimizes the
risk to my family if someone I put in prison wants
retribution. I echo, though, the advice to always use one
name for services (car mechanics, vet, carpet cleaning,
whatever) so you don't have to keep track of whose name to use.
Judge Maiden Name
For me, this was a moral question. Men and women are equal,
and to continue a tradition predicated female inferiority
felt ugly -- worse than Jim Crow's ''separate but equal,''
because there's not even the pretense of equality. After
all, if family name uniformity were important, men could
take a turn at changing their names. They don't. They find
it degrading. Perhaps that means it IS degrading
On a practical note, my husband and I kept our names. We
gave our first child his name, our second mine, and kept
alternating. Over nearly a quarter century, only two people
have objected: a Costco clerk in Tennessee and my mother.
We have had no regrets, and our children are happy with our
I happen to be writing from Egypt, where the revolution,
albeit spectacular and wonderful, has done nothing for the
status of women. Every waking hour brings experiences that
are different for my daughter and me than for my husband and
sons. As the days pass, it takes a perceptible toll on my
confidence and sense of personhood, and my daughter's too, I
think. Perhaps the males in my family would disagree, but I
sense it has affected them, too. My point is that even
small inequities matter, and if we care about equality, we
should resist them.
Old-time feminist, or just trying to be logical?
I didn't change my last name when I first got married,
because I liked the name I was born with. By the time I had
kids, I thought about changing my name, but didn't want to
muddle the professional identity I had built up. So my kids
have my last name as their middle name, and that has always
When I got remarried a year ago, I considered changing my
name, but in addition to the same professional identity
issues, it would have meant that I had the same last name as
my husband, my stepkids, and my husband's ex-wife... but not
my own children. So we currently have three last names under
one roof: mine, my kids', and my husband's and stepkids'.
Addressing Christmas cards is a little complicated, but
other than that we haven't had any issues. This is the Bay
Area, and nobody bats an eyelash.
Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky
You said that you are not interested in having your husband
change his name to yours, but why not? If you are attached
to your name, and feel it's important for everyone in your
family to have the same name, that might be a good solution.
Hi, I got married last year and now I want to change my surname
to match my husbands. Can anyone tell me the steps I need to go
thru? Do I start with Social Security, or what? I don't even
know what agency to apply to. I googled and failed to get
anything useful. Many thanks,
still a feminist
I found the process to be pretty straight forward, if not time
consuming (lots of time waiting in line)once you know where to
start. Step 1: go to Social Security office (see
for list of what documents to bring). Step 2: take new SS card
to DMV to make change on your drivers license. Step 3: call
companies you do business with (credit cards, bills, banks, etc)
to make name change there. Oh, and make the name change with
your employer so your paychecks reflect your new name. The REAL
tricky part is remembering to introduce yourself by your new last
Hello, I have researched this process thoroughly as I was
married two and a half years ago; the research has been my way
to drag my feet (the whole feminist things vs. having one family
name). The place to start is with social security; I believe
you can even do that part online, without having to go anywhere
or wait in line. Then you need to go to the DMV with your
marriage certificate and other ID; you also need to let payroll
(if you work) know immediately that you changed your name,
otherwise when tax time rolls, you could run into trouble.
After that, you need to chnage your passport and send a letter
out to insurance companies, credit card companies, etc. The
most important is social security though - start there. Most
forms are online and there are even a few sites that have sample
letters to use to let people know. Here are two websites that
might be helpful - the first one has a list of people to contact
(after the real important ones) that is pretty thorough. The
second one just has some good info. Good luck!
From my experience, you can start with any
agency/administration that you want. All you need to do is send
a copy of your marriage certificate. A hint: make a handful of
copies...they don't give them back, and never ever give your
feminist as well...w/hubby's name
It's a bit painstaking, but to change your name, you need to
change your name separately with every agency/business/bank etc.
with whom you do business. For some, it's as simple as a phone
call or a visit to their web site; for others you'll need to send
a copy of your marriage certificate. The big ones to start with:
social security, driver's license, passport, bank, credit cards,
stock brokerage, employer. Others: utilities, phone company,
cable, health insurance, car insurance, home insurance, friends
and relatives, memberships, library card, frequent flier programs.
Formerly Known As
It's been almost 15 years since I got married/changed my name,
but I remember it being pretty simple, other than standing in
line at government offices. First change your Social Security
card (complete instructions at http://tinyurl.com/yveakr) and
then head over to the DMV
(http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#two504) and do the same.
At both places you pretty much just pay a fee, fill out a form
and show your marriage certificate.
Thought I Was Trading Up to a Name that was Easier to Pronounce
I changed my last name 7 years ago and what stood out was
starting at Social Security. Apparently, they'll use your SSN
to match up to your California Id.
I hope your current names all match. Mine didn't - my CDL
didn't match my SSN (initals versus fully spelled out) that
didn't match my marriage certificate or my passport. It wasn't a
nightmare but took a lot of patience.
Social Security is really the only agency that you need to change
your name for with any special hoop-jumping. I changed my
passport and most everything else with just a copy of my marriage
For some weird reason, I have changed everything, but SS. I like
to put my maiden name on my taxes every year...
You go to the same office where you got your marriage
certificate to file the paperwork that changes your name, then
social security (as I recall also in the same building, then
the DMV, your credit cards, any legal paperwork, etc. (I think,
it's been 8 years that I did all that).
still haven't got everything changed to my new last name
I have been married for 4 years now and I would like to change my last name to my
husband's and make my maiden name my middle name. I live in Oakland. I've
gotten confusing and conflicting advice on how to do it. Where do I start? What are
all the places I need to inform of the change? Some people say that the Social
Security office is the first place to go, but others have said that the SS Office
requires a temporary license from the DMV. I've also heard that the DMV will only
let you change your last name, not your middle name. It seems like such a simple
thing, but it's beyond belief how frustrating this process is becoming!!
If you've changed your name recently I would really appreciate some advice on what
the proper order of steps is. Thank you very much!!
Try this website, it might help make the process a little easier
for you: http://www.ultimatekits.com/
You first have to change your name with the social security
office and before you even go there, you must have an original
copy of your marriage certificate to show them to get the ball
rolling. When you receive your new card, go to the DMV to get a
new license. Once you have the new license and social security
card, you can do your passport, credit cards and everything
else. It will take a while to get this going but it is not
impossible, just tedious.
Google search this: california name change. I was told that to
use your maiden name as a middle name you need to go through a
simple court filing.Otherwise, take your marriage license to the
I just changed my name 2 months ago after being married for 11
years. Its simple:
1. You must first change it with the SS office (bring your
marriage certificate and a government piece of mail or utility
bill with your maiden name on it and current address). TIP: I
would make an appointment with SS rather than waste 2 hours in
line. In about 2 weeks they will send you your new SS card with
new name on it.
2. Make appt at DMV and bring SS card and old driver's
That's it. Then you get to go through the all the stuff with
credit cards, etc.
If you are making plane reservations, make sure you time this
well. YOu don't want to get stuck with your new name but not a
DL or passport that hasn't yet been changed. Oddly enough,
when I went to the DMV they didn't take my old DL back so I
For more info, go to the Social Security online site and there
is a link to name changes.
In California if you are changing your name after getting married
you only have to take your marriage certificate to the DMV and
they will issue you a new license. Many places will let you
change your name over the phone, but some (including mileage
programs) want you to write a letter and include a copy of your
new license. To change your SSX card you have to go in person to
the SSX with all the paperwork.
When I got married over ten years ago, I kept my last name. I don't
really like my last name, but I was used to it and it just didn't
feel right to take my husband's. (His is a perfectly fine last name,
but his family was not very welcoming to me at the time, so I didn't
identify with them, and I also felt strongly that keeping my last
name was the ''right''--and feminist--thing to do.)
Well, now I'm older, still a feminist, and I have a couple of kids
(who have my last name as their middle name) and it turns out that I
don't like being the only one in the family with a different last
name (and I didn't like my last name enough for it to be their last
name). I also feel that feminism is quite a bit more complex than I
did when I was younger--so keeping my name matters less than it did
when I was just out of college. So I'm thinking about changing it,
which also feels weird to me.
From working with kids, I know that it's not a big deal for them to
have parents with different last names...so this isn't about my kids
as much as it's about me feeling left out of the club. Still, if I'm
going to do this, I'd like to do it before my kids hit school. I'd
love to hear from people who may have also had a change of heart
about keeping their last names and either did or didn't go through
with a change. Has anyone else done this? Been glad? Regretted it?
Are there any problems I should know about? Thanks a lot. I think
about this way more than I should and I just need to decide one way
or the other.
When I got married, I went through a similar process of whether or not
to take my husband's last name. Luckily for me, I worked with a group
of women who had chosen a variety of ways to deal with the name change
tradition in marriage.
I choose to add my husband's name to the end of mine, so now I have two
middle names (my given middle name and my maiden name).
I use my maiden name professionally, and in every other setting I use
my married name (in my case it's Dr. Smith & Mrs. Jones, and my full
name is Jane Diane Smith Jones -- make sense?.
I have had a few encounters with HR not getting that I have what is
essentially a stage name and that my paychecks go into an account that
has my real name. To me they are both real, they reflect two different
parts of my life, the professional and the personal. I think it gives
me a good sense of separation between the two. This is all IMHO, of
I hope this helps you with your decision. Good luck.
aka ''Jane Diane Smith Jones''
The question perhaps you should ask yourself and really answer is, Why
did I choose to keep my name? I think it is too simplistic to say that
it was the feminist thing to do. You seem intelligent, so I'm sure there
was more than following the dogma of a particular label. Did you feel
like you would lose part of your identity? Did you feel like your
'feminist' friends would question you? Did you feel like it wasn't right
for you to be the one to change your name simply because that's what our
culture has dictated?
I agree that feminism is complicated, but the fundamental reasons that
feminists decided to reject this convention are pretty basic. Why is it
the woman--always the woman--who loses her name?
What is the history beind that, and is that something we want to
perpetuate. What I do agree is complicated is how to maintain separate
names once kids are in the picture. I did not change my last name when I
got married 14 years ago, although almost all of my friends did. Nothing
seemed to make a difference until we had kids. Then, we saw that people
were confused about addressing mail, introductions, getting the kids
names right. It's surely more work than if I had just changed my name
and we were all the same, but I feel like it is worthwhile for me to be
a part of that bridge. If I make the effort, maybe it won't be a big
deal for my two daughters. They'll have decisions to make, but hopefully
having more choices will make it less difficult (and
By the way, I was heartened to see that something like 5% of men these
days are choosing to change their names to their new wife's name.
In any case, if you really want to have one family name for whatever
reason, that's what you should do. Just make sure you feel good about
your reasons and you won't need to think about it so much.
I didn't change my name right after marriage - I waited around
3 years, and decided to change it when my first child was born. It was
a good time as we were moving to another state (was already going to the
DMV getting a driver's license, etc.
and also had to get a ss# for the baby).
To be honest, I wish I hadn't changed it. I liked my maiden name (very
unique), and changing it doesn't make me feel like I ''belong'' to my
family more than before. As you mentioned, lots of kids have different
last names than a parent, so there is no stigma with that.
But, it certainly isn't something I think alot about at this point - I
have had my husband's name for 10 years now, and I am used to it. But,
ultimately, I wish I had just kept my maiden name.
Tips for Changing Your Last Name.
First you have to go to the Social Security Office. Nothing can be done
until you change it at the SS office. I recommend do not hyphenate if it
will make your last name extremely long and it will not fit on credit
I suggest moving your maiden name to your middle name if you don't want
to drop it completely.
I suggest that you change any documentation that will legally identify
you as an owner or responsible for any kind of liability.
Here are things for you to think about. 1. DMV links to SS Office. Now
they will only put the name that is on your SS card
(f) 2. Financial accounts - Banks, Brokerage, 401K, Credit Cards
(sometimes there is a fee) 3. Due to Homeland security, I highly
recommend updating any Passports, Naturalization Papers and I believe
Green cards are mandatory(f) 4. If you are a professional woman who will
also be using her married name, you might want to consider updating your
diploma with your married name. This just makes background checks
easier. I would only do this if I were a physician, attorney or in a
profession that requires my credentials/license to be displayed.
(Example Real Estate Brokers require their license to be displayed)(f)
5. Big ticket items like Vehical Registrations, Grand Deeds any kind of
I changed my name because of the children. It was very much a pain in
the butt. I only wish I didn't hyphenate as my name doesn't fit on my
license, credit cards and signing my full legal cramps my hands. GOOD
I had many similar feelings to yours and kept my own last name through
12 years of marriage and 2 children. The reasons for changing to my
husband's last name were a bit different from yours, but there came a
point when I just decided to embrace his
last name. And that is exactly how I think of it: embracing this new
myself and also having a family name. I really enjoy having a family
name, so I can relate to your desire to share the family name. The
reasons for holding on to my ''maiden'' name just didn't seem important
My children were 5 and 9 when this change occurred, and it was a paper
ordeal, but not much more than this. In my workplace, it was much less
of an issue than I thought it would be; now after 2 years with my new
name, colleagues and casual acquaintenances at work are familiar with my
name. So to answer your question, I have had no regrets. My former
last name served its purpose, and I am rather enjoying having a new
no hyphens for me
I did not change my name when I got married, It just seemed like a
hassle to me and my name had worked for me all of my life. Well it does
cause some awkward moments as sometimes my husband gets called by my
last name (pissing him off major) and I have been harrassed by my
husbands ''enlightened'' step mother that she prefers her guy to have
ownership of her. They also always write birthday checks out to his
last name even when they know darn well that I did not change my name
making it difficult to cash the check.
You can look at it two ways: you took your fathers last name when you
were born and he is a man. (if you are looking at it from a feminist
perspective) Or you just did not feel like hassling with it and it
seems silly to you wich is my perspective. Going against social norms is
difficult. Even Hillary Rodham bowed down and now goes by Clinton.
Sometimes I think it is not worth the hassle of explaining to all these
people my views on it.
My advice: if you are feeling left out change your name to his.
My maiden name is clunky, hard to spell, hard to pronounce, and vulgar
when mispronounced certain ways. My husband's last name is short, easy
to spell, even lyrical. It's also very common.
Yet I clung to my maiden name after I married in a combined effort to
not get lost in a common name, and because of what I regarded as the
negative process of giving up my own name. Well, 20 years later, I
signed both my maiden and married names in legal documents, but have
dropped my maiden name everywhere else.
Rather than losing my own name or identity, I now feel like I have my
own identity, separate from my father yet not dominated by my husband.
Name choice did not give me this sense, but living a life in the
present. Now all members of my immediate family have the same name.
That means more to me now than emblems of independence. I'm not
independent; I am interdependent with my husband and children. This
identity feels good to me. In your case, go with what feels right for
you, not a philosophy imposed from elsewhere.
I disliked my last name also -- it earned me a lot of teasing when I was
a child. My husband's name was less annoying, so I changed mine, even
though I'd published a thing or two in my maiden name. It has never
bothered me, I got used to the change very quickly. And I certainly
don't miss my old, annoying last name!
I was very adamant about keeping my last name when I got married and it
never occurred to me when we were expecting our first, to give my last
name to our baby as a middle name. We'd picked out a name that fit well
with my husband's last name and we filled everything out on the birth
certificate and went on with life with a newborn.
Sometime in between when my first child and my second were born, I
started thinking about whether or not it might be a good idea to change
my name to be the same as my husband's and my son's.
People in my family were always asking me how to address mail to me and
when my first son was born, my boss, none the wiser, announced his birth
using MY last name and I had to send in a correction with my husband's
When I was expecting my second child I'd decided that I was going to
give him my last name as a middle name and we also talked about changing
our older boy's name to include my last name as well. But then on the
day that I was filling out the birth certificate for my second son,
there was so little room that I just put down the name we'd chosen for
him and my husband's last name.
At times I still ponder whether or not it would be nice to just be ''The
Smiths'' on cards and so on. I sign off cards with all of our first
names instead and when I put our address on the back of envelopes I put
my last name and my husband's last name without any hyphens.
But overall I'm glad I kept my name. There's little social expectations
to overcome, but I generally find that these are mostly an issue with
older generations, especially my grandmother's generation (she's 86).
There's never been any confusion at the kids' daycares or schools.
The difference for me is that I am very fond of my last name.
It's an Irish name and I identify strongly with my Irish heritage. I'm
also not terribly fond of how my husband's name sounds in English. He's
French and it's a very nice French name, but it's not as nice in
English. So I guess that's a factor too.
At this point, I simply don't want to go through the hassle of changing
my name and having to update all of the paperwork that goes along with
that, notifying credit card companies, etc. etc.
It just seems like more trouble than it's worth, plus if I want to -use-
my husband's name in a social context, I can always do that without
going through the legal process.
I'm generally pretty gracious and just let it slide when people call me
''Mrs. Smith'' for example, even though I usually use ''Ms.
Jones'' instead. I think I'd be unhappy with myself if I did change it,
so at this point I have no plans to change my name.
I'm just planning to be flexible about how I'm addressed by people and
what I use in daily life.
Here's my thinking on why I took my husband's last name when we got
1) We wanted to have children and I find meaning in our having the same
last name, it shows that we're all from the same clan, as it were.
2) This last name business is patrilineal any way you look at it: you
either take your husband's name or keep you father's name (unless of
course you make up a new last name together).
3) Hyphenating last names isn't sustainable over generations.
Good luck with your decision!
I did the exact thing you describe! When I married I didn't change my
name, for all the usual reasons. We were married for
5 years and when I was pregnant with my first I started to realize that
I wanted the whole family to have the same name.
I didn't want to carry and birth my children, only to be the only one
with a different name. Not for me. So I changed it and its been great.
Although he never would have said so, I think it made my husband very
happy. Its been 4 years and I love my new name and wouldn't look back.
The original reasons for keeping my name seem not so important now.
This is not to say that keeping your own name isn't fine too, just that
it has worked well for me and my family to all have the same name.
Its familial and for lack of a better word, cozy. Good luck to you.
Part of the Clan
I decided to change my name, after much debate, and have always been
very glad that I did. I see it as a sign of commitment and love, not
giving up my identity, and definitely not a problem for my feminism. Is
the ''maiden'' name (!), coming from the father, really any more ''you''
than one you choose yourself when starting your own family? I really
enjoy identifying with my husband and son as unified members of the same
''team.'' Plus, it is easier dealing with forms, address lists,
insurance, social groups, etc.; I never have to explain myself.
I did not change my name when I got married. A few years later, when I
was expecting my first baby, I changed my last name so it would be the
same as my baby's last name. We had decided to give him one of my
husband's last names. That means I changed my last name to one of my
husband's last names (he had two), but not for the traditional reason of
a woman giving up her father's name and taking her husband's name upon
marriage. What I would have preferred was to create a new last name for
our family that we would have given to our baby, and each of us as
parents would have changed our names to that name. My husband wasn't
interested in doing that. I preferred his last name aesthetically to my
own last name, hence I preferred that last name for my baby and for
myself. A hyphenated name seemed unwieldy to me so I decided against
that. I do not regret changing my last name to one of his. I am very
happy to have the same last name as my baby. I also think it made
traveling with my baby outside the US easier for me. As someone pointed
out to me, feminism is about having choices. So go ahead and change your
name if that is what you choose to do. I should just remind you that a)
many people will think you changed your name for the traditional reasons
in spite of your own reasons, and b) there is some hassle involved as
you have to change your name on everything: car title, driver's license,
credit cards, library card, SS #, frequent flyer numbers... you get the
idea. Ironically, you will usually have to send a copy of your marriage
certificate for the various companies to implement your name change. I
ended up changing my middle name, which I was not attached to, to my
former last name.
Having my former last name as my middle name has made some aspects of
the name change easier for me.
When I married, I did not take my husband's last name and for seven
years, that was that. Then, when I was nine months pregnant with our
first child, I went off to the DMV and the social security
administration and changed my name. Just like that. I wanted to have the
same last name as my husband and child and I've been happy with my
decision ever since. I now call myself Suzie Smith Jones and we're the
Jones family. I don't have any opinions about what anyone else should
do. It just felt right to me.
- Been There, Done That
Hi. I changed my last name after being married for 10 years. I kept my
name after marrying for all the same reasons as you. I changed my name
just before my daughter started kindergarten. I'm glad I did it. It
worked out well timing wise and was an easy adjustment. And having a new
identity is kind of fun!
happy with my new name
Why not change your kids' last names to a hyphen of yours and your
husbands? I'm sure they have less history and accounts etc. than you do.
When I got married, neither my husband nor I changed our names. When
our daughter was born, it was very important to me to not be in the
situation you are in (and many women I know are in) where the husband
and kids have one name and I have another. I didn't want there to be any
confusion about my relationship to them (am I the stepmom? the nanny?).
We've never had any problem whatsoever with my husband being ''Mr.
Jenkins'' me being ''Ms. Dahlia'' and our kids' last names being
''Dahlia-Jenkins''. Both my husband and I have travelled with them alone
and never had a problem at the airport, etc. (and my daughter's
kindergarten teacher was thrilled that she got so much practice with her
letters when she had to write her whole name!) (And when people worry
about what might happen when my hyphenated-named kids marry other
hyphenated-named spouses, I have to laugh. What do I care? Let them work
it out! At that point they can drop or change any name that they want.)
And as a possible added bonus, if you do change their names from your
name being a middle name to part of the last name, that leaves them with
the opportunity to help pick out their own middle names! I bet they
would love that!
--happy mom of hyphen-named kids
I'm actually surprised nobody mentioned this,
''What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would
smell as sweet.''
I didn't change my last name. I like the way it sounds with my first
name. I don't like the way my husband's last name sounds with my first
name. My daughter's name, however sounds beautiful with it. But she'd be
just as perfect with my last name. There's no confusion about whether or
not she's my daughter. My husband sometimes gets called by my last name.
He doesn't care. In fact, I think he kind of likes it! It's just a name.
I say go with what you like, what feels comfortable.
When I got married I would have loved it if both my husband and I had
come up with a name that would be a combination of BOTH names. I would
have found that romantic. However, me be the only one changing her name
I found medieval. I grew up with that name: it's definetely part of my
identity. Like my first
name: I have always been Patricia; I could not be called Susan now. If
both people change their names it's a nice symbol; otherwise... nope.
My husband's mother got married three times... she has more last names
than she can remember!!!
With our son we gave him a hyphenated last name,so his last name is a
combination of both last names. It's awkward sometimes and annoying
when people seem to be so structured that they only expect it to be one
way: everyone with the same last name. But you know what? Although
it's annoying, at the same time it feels special: we are not following
the norm and I feel that at some point, when my son's old enough to
understand, and considering he's being raised by the progressive parents
we are, he is going to be proud of his hyphenated last name. So, my
advice is to give your children BOTH your names as a last name. After
all, they would be his children and, for goodness sake, yours too!
I changed my last name when I got married specifically because I hoped
to have children and wanted us to have one last name. I use my maiden
name as my middle name, and insist on all my names being used
profesionally. It's how I used to introduce myself, but have gotten
lazier as time has passed and it's often easier now to just say one last
My daughter has my maiden name as her middle name.
I'm still somewhat ambivalent about it. I like having one family name,
but it still feels a little funny to me to have a different name (it's
been 5 years). I had wanted my husband to drop his middle name and take
my maiden name as his middle name, but he refused and I didn't care
enough to make an issue out of it.
Here's the thing for me about last names and feminism. If I had kept my
last name, it would have been admitting that a last name IS important
and I would have had issues automatically giving our children my
husband's name. Maybe we would have done something like girls get mom's
name, boys get dad's name. But that seems complicated and (perhaps I
shouldn't care but) people would assume we weren't one family from
birth. But to change my name is to say the name isn't important to me,
this is easier, it's tradition, I'm more interested in making our family
equal in ways that count (2 careers and family, for instance). So that's
what I did. I'd do it again, but as I said I am still a little
ambivalent about it.
You could try going by your husband's name socially and if it feels
right after a while, then go through the bother of changing it legally.
That way if you don't like it, you can switch back much more easily.
When we married I didn't consider changing my last name. That it is
always women who are asked to jettison their histories and identities in
this way seemed like appalling misogyny, or, at best, contempt.
Hyphenating our children's names seemed
impractical: from generation to generation, the length of surnames would
grow exponentially, and we'd simply have procrastinated the problem onto
the shoulders of our descendants. We decided to alternate our family
names, so that some of our children bear my name, and some his. It has
sometimes led to minor confusion, but we don't regret it at all. The
reason I mention it in the context of your situation is that both my
husband and I have some children with whom we don't share last names,
and it doesn't trouble any of them or either of us. (It even has the
advantage that, as they pass through school, they don't inherit the
reputations of their next-oldest siblings.) In fact, we are glad to
have given our children of both genders the precedent of a choice that
was unfair to neither. Our only regret is that we hewed to convention
in choosing to begin with my husband's surname; a coin flip would have
Flinched at the sight of a double-barrel
Well, I did a little of everything... When we got married, I kept my
name. That worked out really well for seven years. Then, when I was
pregnant with our first child, I felt a strong desire to have a single
family name. I didn't want to be the only one in our family with a
different name, and I also objected to our son automatically having my
husband's name instead of mine. My husband was not particularly
attached to his last name, and he actually suggested we BOTH change our
names. So, when I was about eight months pregnant, we combined our last
names to create one that's unique to our family alone. Our extended
families thought we were a little crazy, but most people think it's
pretty cool when they find out about it. It was more of a hassle for my
husband to change his than for me (most of the time, all I had to say
was that I got married; he actually had to provide a copy of the court
order to change some credit cards, etc.), but it wasn't too big a deal.
My husband kept his ''bachelor'' name at work, except on HR documents,
but then when he changed to a new job he just went by our new name. I
did sort of the same thing with my freelance work. It's worked out
really well, and now I'm rather glad I've had both name ''experiences.''
I also don't really feel like either of us ''gave up'' our name; they're
both built into our new one. It's more like an evolution of the names,
and I like that they evolved with our new family.
Changed to a New One
This is a topic that often surprises me. It never occurred to my
husband to change his name when we got married; it never occurred to me
to change mine. I think it is interesting when people work out a new
name together--obviously it has tremendous emotional significance to
them. But since my husband and I are less creative than that we just
kept our own names. When my baby was born we decided she would have my
last name. Once there are 2 different names it seems pretty arbitrary
which one the child has--so why not mine? I am surprised at how rare
this option seems to be.
I'm a graduate of a women's college and an ardent feminist. I love that
my husband and our baby son and I share the same last name since we're a
united family! (although I got lucky - my husband took my last name)
This is what worked for us though and there's as many different answers
to this situation as there are families.
I just got married and want to change my last name to my husbands. Seems like I could
find out how very simply but I couldn't find it on the Alameda County website.
Does anyone know how to do this? What do I need? For credit card companies, my
credit report, passport, CA DL?
Any advice would be helpful
There used to be a kit you could get from www.theknot.com
You could try that or other bridal sites.
ended up keeping my own name
You can go to the Social Security website, print out the form and then stop by
the office (with your marriage lisence)... DMV, bring in you marriage lisence and
just get a new drivers liscence with the new name...
I just skipped changing my name with SSN and went to the DMV...
Once your new name is printed on your Marriage certificate, this is a legal name
change. I didn't change my name with the credit reporting folks but strangely
they know who I am...
Just fax/or call you credit card companies with the new name and get new cards.
It is actually quite simple once you changed your name with SSN and DMV...
married with children
At least for women, it's different than other kinds of name changes. You
basically just have to start using it in all official capacities. For a detailed
list of what this entails, check out this page:
I was stunned how easy it was to just start using a different name when I got
married four years ago. There isn't a specific place to file a name change. You
just start using it and go about the aggravation of trying to remember every
bank, credit card company, frequent flier program, and where ever else it might
matter. A few places will wat to see certified copies of your marriage licence
(DMV, Social Security and probably the passport folks come to mind). You probably
want to call your bank before you go in to see what documentation you should
bring. But otherwise, you just call up the credit card companies and tell them
you want your cards reissued to show your new name.
This is pretty easy: First, go to the Social Security office (I went to the one
in downtown Berkeley on Center St, I think) with your marriage certificate. The
social security dept. is the most important and official place. I changed my
middle name to be my old last name which has made my life a lot easier--when
things come up in my old name, I still have ''proof'' that it's me. Then, make an
appt with the DMV and change it.(They made me re-take my
picture-yuck!) Those are the 2 ''official'' places. Most of my credit card
companies accepted the change over the phone, but some companies wanted a fax of
my marriage certificate. I'm pretty sure the only documentation anyone wanted was
my marriage certificate. The DMV MAY need to see the new social security card
I just went through this less than a year ago. It's somewhat time consuming but
simple. You'll need to have the official marriage license. I would start at the
Social Security Office and get that updated (there's one in Berkeley on Allston
Way across the street from the Post Office). Then go to the DMV and take care of
your ID. As long as you have a valid form of identification (with your maiden
name on it, of
course) and the valid marriage license none of the above should be a problem.
Next hit the bank. Contact your HR. Then, just make a list of ALL the places
you need to change your name with (credit cards, 401K, subscriptions, insurances,
frequent flyer programs, etc., etc.) and call them. Each one will have a
different protocol (some will just do it over the phone after verifying
identification, others require something in writing). Good Luck!
You do not need to go through the official name change process through the courts
when you marry.
You only have to present you marriage certificate to the Social Security
Administration, and then to the CA DMV to get your new SS card and driver's
license. Then you are able to change all your credit cards, banking, etc.
Go to www.socialsecurity.gov to get all the information on the closest office,
and the form you need to fill out and bring with you along with your marriage
certificate. The service is free.
Second, go to the DMV, (I suggest you make an appointment at
www.dmv.ca.gov.) fill out DL-44, show you marriage certificate, and pay $20 for a
Then you will be able to change your name with any entity.
Don't forget to also get a new passport, which can be done once you've changed
you name with the SSA Andrea firstname.lastname@example.org
Start with your driver's license. You simply go to the DMV and apply for a new
license with the new name, it's easy. Then you can use the new photo ID for any
other account that can't be changed simply by verbal or written request.
Credit cards and the like usually can be changed simply by calling customer
service or filling out the ''change of address''
form on the back of a bill stub and providing your new name.
The Federal government is more of a PITA about this than CA or private companies
are. To get a new passport or a new social security card, there is a particular
form you fill out and you will probably have to present the relevant office with
a certified copy of your marriage license. I've never bothered (never needed
to), but it's not a particularly difficult process Holly
I tried to go through the name change process by myself a couple of years ago,
but after two years of trying and procrastination and struggling with the county
court website and paperwork, I gave up and asked my then colleague, Jenny Kassan,
Within 2 weeks, it was done and I went to court to get my paper in about a month.
Jenny received her law degree from Yale and devoted many years of her work life
in non-profit organizations. With a simple case like yours, I think she charges
Considering the amount you would save from buying the Nolo Press ''How to'' book
and the time and headache from going through the court website & paperwork, it's
a really good deal. She can be reached at 510-535-6924 or email@example.com.
Good luck Chris
Unless things have changed in California in the last 15 years, you don't
have to do a lot to change your name to your husband's name. First off,
there is the principle of just changing your name by practice, but
secondly, one of the most accepted circumstances for changing your name
by practice (rather than by legal order) is when a woman marries.
You'll need your marriage certificate to change your name on legal
documents, such as your driver's license and Social Security number. (I
actually changed my name on most docs, including my license, with just
the marriage license in the weeks before the ceremony.) Once you have
those changed, you change credit cards, car registration and property
deeds, utility accounts, etc., and then you merely start using your
married name everywhere.
A quick Google turned up this site, which confirms what I wrote above
(and has info specific to L.A.):
I had no trouble changing my name with any of my credit card companies
and banks. It's such common practice that financial companies are used
I understand from friends that it's a little harder when you just decide
to change your name without having gotten married. That's why some
people opt to pay court fees and change their name legally.
Although I can't really say much about changing back to
your maiden name, I can empathize with you on the cross-
ethnic last name issue. I also married someone who is of
different ethnicity recently, and had the same issues - I'm
Korean and my husband is African-American. Although he has
a nice last name, and it flows relatively well with my
name, I felt like my married name doesn't look like me, and
like you said, the shoe just doesn't seem to fit.
Also, people will just have assumptions about me when they
meet me, like, ''oh, she's married or she's adopted -it's
*obviously* not her real name''. I figured it's no one's
business about my marital status.
Although I love my new family, and my father didn't really
accept our marriage (all the more reason to change your
name), I still felt like I was losing my identity. So,
luckily, my husband is very open-minded about this, and
left it up to me. So I decided to keep my name. I have a
feeling that if I did change it, and wanted to change it
back later, he would support me, because he understands the
importance of your ethnic identity, and identity as a
woman. Good luck with your decision!
I never changed my name, but sometimes there's confusion
with the kids. I merely use my own name EXCEPT when dealing
with the kids' school or doctor stuff, at which time I just
hyphenate with my husband's/their last name. Totally
informal, and everybody's happy.
After being married for almost four years I switched
back to my maiden name. I regretted having given up
my family name and I wanted the association to my
mother who had recently died. I also wanted to have a
different name than my husband for professional
reasons because I was joining the company where he
worked and I wanted to make my own way with our
international customers before they learned that I was
married to a high-level person in the company. We
didn't have children yet so my name change didn't have
any impact on our kids. My husband was very
understanding and supportive of my decision. We are
celebrating our 15-year anniversary this week and have
two children with my name as their middle name and
my husband's as their last name. Good luck with your
My wife and I didn't like my last name for different
reasons. She didn't like the sound of it, I've always
wanted to ''cut away'' from my family because of many
personal reasons. So, we simply decided to change it to a
completely different name we both liked and we feel great
about having done so. Surprisingly, no one had ever made a
negative comment about it. Both sides of the family
accepted and respected our decision. It's very easy in this
state, just change your SSN and your drivers license. Those
are the only legal requirements. No court or legal papers.
Get ready though for tons of postal and work-related
changes, credit cards etc. But it was all worth it!
I was exactly in your shoes a few years ago when I reverted
to my maiden name. I had the same ambivalent feelings
that you have now about sharing the surname of an entire
family who has been less than accepting of me. As for our
child (and future little ones), her middle name is my maiden
name, and her last name is the same as dad's. Although
technically we are not a hyphenated family, folks end up
calling us the ''maiden name - surname'' family, which is
I didn't catch your original request for advice, so I hope this
submission isn't completely off base. Judging from the other
posts though I thought my situation would interest you. My
husband and I chose to change our last name a couple of years
ago. We anounced our name change in our baby invitations. For
the first 10 years of our union, we had tried all the common last
name variations for married couples and found none of them fully
satisfying--for medical and bureaucratic records, sharing my
husband's last name had proved most expeditious; but for a sense
of personal identity, retaining each of our father's last names
was the obvious choice; hyphenating was both a bureaucratic mess
and a confusing mouthful. We finally agreed that we like sharing
a last name because it honors our union, but we disliked the fact
that it seems random (at best) that I should give up my name
simply because I'm female to achieve this ''shared'' identity as a
new family. Over the course of our years together we had casually
toyed with the possibility of taking on a completely new last
name together and made a game of tossing out new names to try on.
During our 10th anniversary we finally agreed on ''Moriarty.''
There was no special meaning to be found in this particular
name other than that it was the very first one we agreed on
equally. When we anounced the change (which we processed easily
through the county court--Nolo Press sells a good book on name
we assured our friends that it wasn't our intent to confuse
anyone or to slight our families-of-origin. Rather, we wished to
honor our union with a shared identity that we both came to
equally and could share equally with our new child who was on the
way. We don't mind being called by whatever name people know us
best by. Just another option. BTW, there is a growing trend in
revisiting our naming traditions
this page was last updated: Apr 9, 2012
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network