Taking Spouse's Last Name, or Not

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Start using my husband's last name now that kids are older?

Dec 2011

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. Anon

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. Kitty Whatever
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. anon
Anon, 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. flexible name
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 anniversary. 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. Lauri
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 last name. Conflicted
I didn't change my name when I got married. I had always thought ''If I like his name better than mine I'll change it'' but when I actually got married I realized 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 Smith or Jones to you? Other than that, it's easy, and kind of nice to have two identities.
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. anon
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 you and your mate as a ''family'' but that only with children will become a family. I think it's important to see what is the essence of the relationship separate from what 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 same last name,'' then you probably should change your name. Good luck! Shauna
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 name.

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. Wendy

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... Anon

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 name. Liz O.
Hi, 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 background. J's mom
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! Anon
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! EP
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 people. 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 names 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. ethel
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. anon
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 only child).

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 little boy. Capulet lover

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. Andrea Andrea
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
Hiya, 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. Good Luck!!

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 want to 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 legally changed it. 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. anon

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. Robin

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. ASP
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. Alexandra
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, I've 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 it. Anon
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. happy

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 choice.

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 worked fine.

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. Signed, 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. anon

Changing my surname to my husband's

Feb 2008

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 ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/ssa.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=315 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 name! Anon
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! http://www.soyouwanna.com/site/syws/changename/changenameFULL.html http://www.nolo.com/resource.cfm/catID/211754E8-4167-4E64-9EABA23C9510DE4F/118/121/ Kate
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 original. good luck 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. marie
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 license... For some weird reason, I have changed everything, but SS. I like to put my maiden name on my taxes every year... -anon
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

How do I change my name to my husband's?

Feb 2007

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/ anon
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. Martha
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 DMV. anon
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 license. 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 have both. For more info, go to the Social Security online site and there is a link to name changes. kim
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. sarah

Changing My Last Name, Maybe

Jan 2007

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. Undecided

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 course. 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 loaded.)

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. Elizabeth

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. anon

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 cards. 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 trusts (f).

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 LUCK! Mare

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 name for 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 anymore.

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 name. 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. Ellie

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. moi
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! Karen
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 last name.

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. Beth

Here's my thinking on why I took my husband's last name when we got married: 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! Constance

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. No Regrets!
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. anon
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, Remember: ''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. name withheld
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! Proud-to-have-passed-my-last-name-to-my-son

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 name. 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. anon

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 been fairer. 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. anon
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. anon

Changing my last name to my husband's

Sept 2006

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: http://www.ehow.com/how_4640_change-name-after.html Anon
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. Pam
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 --newlywed
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! recently renamed
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 new license. 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 andrea [at] flandms.net
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, for help. 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 about $125-$150. 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 jkassan [at] sbcglobal.net. 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.): http://www.losangelesweddingsguide.com/change-name-after-marriage.html 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 to it.

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. Good luck Gwynne

Thinking about switching back to my maiden name

April 2002

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! Jenny

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. Good luck, ''Mrs. Howitt''
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 decision. liz
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 totally fine. Miki
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 changes) 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 http://weddings.about.com/library/weekly/aa051898.htm Donna