Time for a Change!

Most women do not have a terribly hard time changing their names. It’s what we expect to do from childhood, and when the time comes to change our names at marriage, women happily take their husband’s names. However, a growing number of women are finding it difficult to change their names.

If a woman has a professional identity associated with her name, she’s more likely to keep it. What many women are doing is living with two identities. Maybe by using her maiden name as her middle name, or using a hyphened last name.

But, approaching the issue of not changing your name is not easy. Since it’s still considered going against the norm, the very topic itself can cause conflict in your relationship with your fiancé. Make sure, if you’re wanting to have this discussion with your fiancé, that you think it through clearly. Present the issue to your fiancé in a conversation that is free of interruption. Make sure you take your fiancé’s feelings into consideration. Make sure that you’re both sharing your feelings equally. If you can’t find common ground, shelve the issue for a little while.

Your legal name is the one that appears on the most recent formal document of maximum authority in your life. Those documents are your birth certificate, marriage license, passport, and divorce decree. As a woman getting married, the legal document that will affect you the most is your marriage certificate. Therefore, whatever name you choose on your marriage certificate becomes your legal name.

Ideally, all of your legal documentation in your life, such as your passport, should then reflect the same name change. But, for example, if your passport doesn’t need to be renewed around the time of your wedding, it really isn’t going to matter that it still has your maiden name on it. Don’t worry, you haven’t defrauded anyone by not changing your name, but you might run into trouble if you try to travel to a different country (I suggest traveling with a copy of your marriage certificate, so that if the name on your plane ticket is different from the one on your passport, you can explain the discrepancy).

If you decide to keep your maiden name professionally or keep using your maiden name because you like it better than your married name, you need to understand that your maiden name is still not your legal name. However, if you don’t get around to changing your credit cards or drivers license, you won’t get into any legal trouble.

If you decide to change your name, then you’ll probably want to make a list of all the documents you will need to update. Start with the most formal documents in your life, such as your marriage license, passport, and perhaps the deed to your house (if you have one yet). Then, add other every day items like your credit cards, Social Security card, drivers license, bank statement, personal checks, investment accounts, and insurance policies.

Also,don’t forget to notify the post office!

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