469 Comments

Congratulations on deciding to get married! You are in for… okay, we can't lie. While being married is great and wonderful, the act of getting married can be quite stressful. There is the planning of the ceremony itself, the merging of two households (if you don't already live together) and all of the details involved with that. You also have to take the time to apply for your marriage license and then decide whether or not you are going to keep your name or change it.

This is where a lot of people have trouble. Once upon a time, it was just customary for a Bride to take her Groom's last name as her own and abandon her maiden name completely. The act of keeping her own name was considered taboo and people's eyebrows would raise right off their faces when they found out that the Bride was even considering something so radical. Over time, though, more and more women are deciding to keep their names.

There are a lot of reasons to want to keep your own name. Hopefully you have a supportive Groom who understands why this idea is the most appealing to you. A lot of times, though, the act of keeping your name is still something that causes concern… even if your Groom is fine with it, his family (or your own) might not be so understanding.

There are a couple of ways to compromise on the whole "you wanting to keep your name and your Groom hating the idea" problem. You could choose an entirely new last name for the two of you to share. This way neither of you gets "your" way and you both have to deal with the legalities of going through a name change. Most of the time, though, the most popular compromise is to hyphenate your last name and the last name of your Groom.

For example, if your Groom's name is John Smith and your name is Kate Jones, you would name yourself Kate Jones-Smith or Kate Smith-Jones.

This allows you to keep going by your own last name while legally adopting your husband's surname at the same time.

Why Is Hyphenation a Good Thing?

The compromise is the biggest reason that so many women choose to hyphenate their last names. It is a way of you keeping your own identity while also keeping your future husband happy

It allows you to stay connected to accomplishments that you achieved before you got married. For example, many women who choose to hyphenate do so partially because they have earned higher educational degrees and certifications under their maiden names. They might have also had things published or publicized and want to stay connected to that identity.

It helps you stay obviously connected to your children whose names might not be hyphenated and who have been given your husband's surname.

It can help you bridge the gap between your personal and professional life. Many women who opt to simply keep their own names do so because they don't want to give up all that they have accomplished professionally. Unfortunately this makes it hard for them to claim ownership of these accomplishments personally because they happened under their "other" name.

Nobody wants to think about the negative stuff but, with the divorce statistics being what they are, you might want a contingency plan. Changing your name to his last name and then back to your own if things go south will be a major hassle.

While tradition is one thing, there isn't any logical reason—at least one that isn't rooted in "because that's how it has always been done" to completely change your name. Keeping your name and joining it to your husband's through hyphenation is as legal as simply adopting his name or as simply keeping your own and leaving his out of the picture entirely.

Probably the most important reason to consider hyphenation is your identity. You've spent your whole life building your identity under a certain name. Obviously you will still be you even if you've taken on your husband's last name and omitted yours entirely. At the same time, your name is associated with the identity you've built up and hyphenation allows you to respect that while also respecting tradition and your husband's family's identity at the same time.

Why Might Hyphenation Be a Bad Thing?

Hyphenated names are more difficult for computers to handle. When you type in your personal information, the hyphen often isn't recognized by the computer's code. This means that you have to eliminate the hyphen and that can cause problems later on.

If you care about outside opinions on your name, you should know that a large portion of today's society is annoyed by the hyphenated name. Some people find it "snobby" and others simply find it irritating because they have a hard time remembering which last name they are supposed to say first. Some people even believe that not simply adopting your husband's last name is a huge sign of disrespect and a lack of commitment.

It is possible that your future husband will find this choice offensive. Some men, regardless of how you might feel about such things, are traditionalists and feel that it is simply "right" for the woman to take the man's last name as her own. Whether or not your future husband insisting on your adopting his last name is a red flag to you or not, it is still something that you should take under consideration.

Some people worry that having a hyphenated name—if you do not plan on passing the hyphenation down to your children and are planning on giving them only your husband's surname—can be confusing for a child. Even when the child is given a hyphenated last name, they might be confused when they get older when they start making friends whose names aren't hyphenated.

Interesting Statistics and Hyphenation Stories

Instances of today's generation of women hyphenating their names has gotten significantly smaller since the baby-boomers' generation started making the practice more popular.

The Knot website says that less than 10% of women today hyphenate their names. Some simply choose to have two last names or two middle names when they want to keep their own last names after they get married.

Same-sex couples sometimes have a difficult time trying to hyphenate or change their surnames after they are married. Even when they are married legally, there are some states in which the judges who hear these petitions will deny the peoples' request to have the same last name. In some cases, applicants sometimes fib about the reason they are seeking the name change.

What It All Boils Down To

There are all sorts of reasons to hyphenate your name and not to hyphenate your name. The basis for each of these things, however, is whether or not you are willing to make a compromise when it comes to changing your name (or whether you are willing to compromise on your future spouse adopting your name as their own). The hyphenation is the epitome of a compromise. One spouse wants a complete name change. The other spouse wants no name change. Hyphenating the two names is a way for each person to, at least a little bit, "win" the argument.

Of course this isn't the actual end of the argument. Why would you ever think that anything having to do with getting married would be that easy? Once the decision to hyphenate one person's name is made, you have to decide whether both of you are going to hyphenate your surname.

After all, why should the bride be the only one to go through the name change process? Equal partners and opportunities and all that, right?

Many men, when they acquiesce to a bride's compromise on hyphenating her surname are happy to do the hyphenation as well. There are always going to be a few exceptions to the rule but we're willing to bet that most men will say "okay, if you will, I will too." From here, then, you need to decide which name is going to come first in the hyphenation.

The decisions and compromises just don't ever end, do they?

And don't forget the legal stuff! Making the decision is just part of the process. From there you are going to have to legally change your name all over the place. You'll need to change your name at the bank, with social security, with your credit cards, on your driver's license, at the gym… everywhere. It's easy to get overwhelmed just thinking about it.

The good news here, however, is that there are tools you can use to help you make the process a little bit less scary and intricate.

What matters of course, is that the two of you are going to be happily married—hopefully for the rest of your lives. At the end of the day, whether you each keep your names, whether you come up with an entirely new name for the two of you to share or whether you hyphenate your current surnames, what matters is that you love each other and are going to be joining your lives together. Try to remember that as you are staring at the application for your marriage license and filling out the portion that reads "name after you get married" (or whatever the legalese for that might be).

That's what matters most of all, right?

469 Comments

  1. J

    I have changed my last name to my husband's some time ago and wish to retain it for both personal and legal reasons but as I have a common first and last name, I would like to use my maiden name in some fashion for my academic career only. What are the possible ramifications if I hyphenate last names for my published works but not legally change it? I live in CA. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi J. A general rule is to use your legal name for legal purposes (e.g., government documents, taxes, insurance) and your professional name for other purposes. You'll have to bridge the gap between your prior name and new name so that old references still point to you.

      Reply
      1. J

        Thank you. The only issue that comes to mind is that if I become faculty at a university, I would be associated with my published works by the hyphenated last name so I would be listed accordingly (ex. Smith-Doe) in all references and therefore it may create a problem if I am only using single last name (Doe) for all legal stuff like the bank and on taxes.
        And here I thought I was making things easier when I took my husband's last name. Oh well.

        Reply
  2. T

    Thank you for such a wonderfully interactive discussion.
    To be clear. If I want to keep my maiden name & take my future husband's I could either:
    1. "maiden-husband's"
    2. "maiden husband's"
    Would both be considered my last name? Or, if I used he second option, my maiden name would be considered a middle name. Is the hyphen mark necessary for both names to be considered my legal last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Would both be considered my last name?

      The second option would only be considered your last name if you specify it to be so. If you mark your maiden as middle, then it'll be your middle name only.

      Is the hyphen mark necessary for both names to be considered my legal last name?

      No.

      Reply
  3. CB

    Hi I live in L.A. county CA and my fiance has his mothers last name, he wants to change it it his stepfathers last name and that would be the last name I would like to change it to when we get married. Can we just change it when we get married or does he need to change his last name first before we get married.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can we just change it when we get married or does he need to change his last name first before we get married.

      He'll have to change it first.

      Reply
      1. Frank Simon

        Hi what is the preferred method for double surname if let say the father is Smith and the mother is Jones does the child become say Tom jones smith or Tom smith jones

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Frank. Although mother-father is more common, you can choose whichever is preferred. There's no wrong or right.

          Reply
          1. Frank

            Thank you I presume Mother father commonality is the same in hyfornated surnames as well

  4. Gina

    I am 47 and plan on being married this year. I am in Texas. I want to keep my last name but my fiancé is adamant about me taking his last name. Am I able to have his name on the marriage certificate and still retain my maiden name on my credit cards drivers license Social Security passport documents.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Gina. If you've only changed your last name on your marriage certificate, then you haven't actually changed it anywhere (for real). Your maiden name remains your legal name. Citing a name change on a marriage certificate doesn't obligate one to actually change it.

      Reply
      1. Sandra

        I had the same question. For legal reasons wouldn/t you have to submit the changes eventually? Example: drivers license, bank accounts etc.

        Reply
  5. Grace

    Hi,
    I got married two years ago and adopted an additional name (after i got married)apart from my husband's name. example birth name was Sophie Marie Eze and then after marriage Sophie Marie Grace Flint- Pebble(Flint-Pepple been my husband's name n surname). Is this adoption ok? and can it be written on my international passport? How do i go about the Affidavit? I also want to be known mainly as Grace Flint-Pepple. Is this possible?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Grace. What do you mean by "adopted an additional name"? If you've legally changed your name as you specified, then you would use it in full as you normally would. As for being known as "Grace Flint-Pepple", that's depends on usage. If informally, then you can.

      Now, in your comment you reference "-Pepple" and later "-Pebble". Was that a typo or are you looking to informally make use of an alternative spelling of your hyphenated last name.

      Reply
  6. Tracy

    Hi! I got married several years ago, at the time I thought I would want to change my name. As it has almost been 4 years and I still have not, clearly I have an issue with changing it. However, the house is in my married name. Is there some way to hyphenate or something? I still want my maiden name somehow reflected in my name, as that is who I have been for 34 years! Also, I am not particularly fond of sharing the name with his ex, who is a horrible person.
    How should I go about this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tracy. If you want to hyphenate then you'll have to change your name for real. You can acquire a certified copy of your marriage certificate from your vital records office, then go about changing your name.

      Reply
  7. Latisha

    Hi….I have been reading the post….I am getting married in a few days and I am struggling with the decision to change my last name. I would like to have two last names without a hyphen….so it would be like John Smith. Is this possible and I was told that if you don't have a hyphen, then you can use one or the other…you don't have to use both…..I am so confused. I just don't want to hyphenate I want the flexibility of using which ever last name I want.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Latisha. On legal documents/contexts, hyphen or not, you have to use the full name.

      Reply
  8. Raquel

    Hey there :D
    I will be marrying soon and having talked to my partner, he has no problem with me keeping my last names (I have two because I am latin american; also no middle name), but I have been thinking about the following:
    When we decide to have kids, would they only get their father's last name?

    In my country we get this combination: Name (s)+ Father's last name + Mother's last name. So, would my kid get that aswell? Just his? Just mine? The two that I am keeping plus his? It's all really confusing.

    Also… would I have to register the baby in both countries?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      When we decide to have kids, would they only get their father's last name?

      You decide which last name (or names) will go on the child's birth certificate, not your partner. Of course, you can decide this in consultation with your partner, but you will have the final say.

      In my country we get this combination: Name (s)+ Father's last name + Mother's last name. So, would my kid get that aswell? Just his? Just mine?

      You can choose whichever combination you prefer.

      Also… would I have to register the baby in both countries?

      What do you mean by this? There would only be one birth certificate and country of birth. Are you seeking dual/multiple citizenship?

      Reply
  9. Debating1

    Hi, thank you for all your great answers! I am divorced and kept my ex's name for the kids sake. I now plan on marrying a different man and would like to hyphenate my maiden name (which was dropped with the first marriage) and the new husband's name. Is that possible? I am in the state of Georgia if that helps.

    Reply
  10. Isaac Hunt-Ashleigh

    Hi. I have a hyphenated name and my fiance also has a hyphenated name. We cannot agree on which name to use once we are married and are considering hyphenating our already hyphenated names. We are concerned that our new double double barrelled hyphenated names will not be taken seriously and the thought of our children having such complicated names and maybe marrying somebody else who also has a hyphenated name and the whole idea just gets out of control. At what point does a hyphenated name just become kind of ridiculous?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      At what point does a hyphenated name just become kind of ridiculous?

      Only you can decide that. If you prefer it and can live with it, then why not take it on? One thing to keep in mind is the possibility of exceeding database character length limits with the SSA and DMV.

      Reply
  11. Marj

    I've scanned the comments and think I've come to the right conclusion but please let me verify with you.
    I'm 68 and my fiance is 80. We've signed a pre-nup to protect the interests of our respective heirs.
    I have a daughter, and he has a son and grand children. We will continue to hold our assets separately. Next year we will file our taxes as "married filing jointly". It seems to me that I may sign the tax return with my current legal name, that hasn't changed since 1975.
    Also, as a military retiree drawing a pension and drawing SS in my own right, changing my legal name would be a hassle. I plan to leave my name as is in those two systems.
    However, in social situations, I will refer to myself either with my fiance's last name or with his and my last names.
    Am I on the right track?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Am I on the right track?

      Hi Marj. I think that's a perfectly valid way of going about things. It's an approach many have taken, and it works out fine.

      Reply
  12. Ally

    Hello! I got married 11 years ago and hyphenated my name. I would like to drop the hyphen and just take my husbands last name. Can I do this thru the SS office? Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ally. You'll have to petition the court first. Once you're granted a court order you can then go to the SS office.

      Reply
  13. Amanda

    First off, thank you for a wonderful article and so much great advice. I read most of the q&a (comment section) and still need a little classification.

    I was married at eighteen, changed my last name only to his, and after the divorce went back to my maiden name. In the time since the divorce I have purchased a car (that I still have a loan on) and a home (also on a loan) in my maiden name. I also have a child support case for two children from said marriage in my maiden name. Because of these factors, along with feeling horribly and as though I lost a part of myself when I dropped my maiden name, and having a child with my new husband's name I chose to hyphenate my name now that I'm married again.

    I know that for legal state and federal things; ie. driver'slicense, social security, taxes and employment, I have to use my new full legal name. my question is of I have to (or should) change less formal things; my car loan, home loan, utilities in my maiden name, and things of that nature since my license and social will reflect my maiden. Also, can I keep my insurance in my mainden name of I continue to use only my maiden name in their office for visits. In a nut shell, can I legally use either or on non state and federal forms as long as I use the same name consistently (old accounts maiden name and new accounts new name). I live in the DFW area of Texas if that helps. Thank you so much in advance for your time and much appreciated advise.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      …since my license and social will reflect my maiden

      If your SS and driver's license reflect your maiden name, can you clarify what you mean when you say you hyphenated?

      Also, can I keep my insurance in my mainden name

      You'll have to notify your insurance company of martial status changes. At that time, they'll ask you to provide your legal name, which would be what's on your SS card.

      In a nut shell, can I legally use either or on non state and federal forms as long as I use the same name consistently

      You can likely get by doing that without much issue for such non-federal/state forms, but it is optimal to get your records updated to reflect your legal name.

      Reply
  14. Justin

    Lots of good information on this site! It sounds like as long as you don't change anything on your marriage cert, you can change the last name later? I have an odd situation where we have a marriage certificate with the AFTER marriage names on it. Both of our names did not change (wife kept her maiden name). We have been married almost 2 years and now she is wanting to change her name. We changed her SS card without any trouble. With SS card and marriage cert in hand we went down to the DMV. They would not accept the Marriage cert as proof of name change because it has our AFTER marriage name on it (even though our names did not change at that time). They said we had to go through the courts to change her name. Why would the SS admin accept the Marriage cert and DMV wont?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Justin. One's federal, one's state. They simply operate on separate tracks.

      Reply
  15. Mabel R

    I'm getting married in NYC, in my Marriage License I have my 2 last names as all my important ID's and then my fiance last name (dont have middle name) I want to keep my first last name and add my husband's one hyphanated. They told me that if I have my 2 last names I have to use it like that and then my husband, but is too large. Can I ask to the City Clerk to keep my first last name and then add my husband's? I'm not sure to use just him.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mabel. Folks may occasionally run into character length issues, although it's rare. Yes, it wouldn't hurt to consult with the city clerk to determine if this specified limit is accurate and can be overridden.

      Reply
  16. Hezael M

    My wife and I bought a house a couple of years back, the documents have her being hyphenated but she has not gone thru that process of being hyphenated yet, God forbid something should happen to me, and she has not done that yet, would there be a problem legally with the house? Does she have to do it or is it optional?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Hezael. Typically not, but you should contact your lender for confirmation.

      Reply
  17. Jracine

    I was wondering if it was necessary to change one's last name (me) as a hyphenated name to match my fiancé last name making it where I still have my last but also her last name too? Is this necessary for only I to do this before marriage (AN EXTRA CHARGE as a legal adult???) or could we both hyphenate both our last names AFTER MARRIAGE making them both hyphenated to match…will it be cheaper that way without a possible extra expense beforehand?…(not that I'm cheap but I do believe it is a fair question).

    If this makes sense…

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I was wondering if it was necessary to change one's last name (me)…

      Well, necessity doesn't really factor into things. It's not required, if that's what you're asking.

      or could we both hyphenate both our last names

      Possibly. It depends on the state. What is (or will be) the state of residence?

      Reply
      1. Jracine

        The state of residence will be Washington. I guess I'm asking if the extra expense is necessary if this makes sense? Of changing my (soon-to-be husband) last name to the hyphenated name before the wedding or could we both just both hyphenate out last names together on the marriage certificate?

        I confuse a lot so I do hope this makes sense…

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Jracine. You'd have to petition the court. You could do it before or after getting married.

          Reply
  18. Soren

    I have a question which I am sure has been addressed here. See, I had my name legally changed (first, middle and last) to include a hyphenated name and now I am looking to marry my partner and we want to do a new hyphenation of her last name and the latter part of my last name. I am wondering if that can be done here in Washington state via the marriage license or would we need to do so through a court appointment. Thanks in advance for your response.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Soren. It may be possible, assuming the portion of your pre-marriage hyphenated name is your surname. If not, then you'll probably have to go through a court petition. Either way, it may be worth calling your county clerk's office for clarification.

      Reply
  19. Antoinette

    I've been married for 3 years now. My name is Antoinette Jones. Jones is my husband last name. I drop my maiden name. I just got a petition granted for name change to have my biological father name placed on birth certificate which is George. Can I have my maiden George hypenated to George-Jones or do have to stay with the last name of Jones. Or do I have to go back to court again.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Antoinette. If you've got a court order granting a name change, then you can use that document to change your married name again.

      Reply
  20. Sandra

    If i do not take my soon to be husbands last name will that affect his citizenship? He is not a legal resident of the United States (born in Mexico) and we are working on changing that. We have a daughter she is 4 months old. Can i hyphenate the name with my current last name and his?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If i do not take my soon to be husbands last name will that affect his citizenship?

      No, it would not.

      Can i hyphenate the name with my current last name and his?

      Yes.

      Reply
  21. Robin

    I am not sure if someone has commented on or asked this yet- BUT, I have been told that after you are married and you want to keep your maiden name and add your husbands last name there are two different directions you can take and both have different ramifications. If you choose to hyphenate, then you must always use that specific last name combo (i.e. Doe-Smith) on everything from social security cards to your passport. However, if you choose to have it spaced and treated as a second middle name (i.e. Jane Marie Doe Smith) then you can actually just drop the last name on most of your legal documents (or if you will- keep your original name = Jane Marie Doe). So essentially you would not have to have anything legally changed. Can you shed some light on this and let me know if it is correct?

    …and Just in case people were wondering why this would be an issue at all- As the article stated above, I have completed all my higher education in my maiden name (along with items published when I completed my doctoral degree) and also known to most of my members, colleagues, and business partners by my maiden name. So I feel it is part of my identity in most things I do daily- this is what most people know me by. However, my husband to be is the only boy in his family and would like to carry on his family name as well (in which he is part of a family business that all know him by). So I would like very much to be able to carry both names, BUT be able to drop his last name when dealing with work/professional things.

    So just curious if there is advice out there on which way would be better to go (the hyphen direction or the space direction- or does it even really matter).

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Robin. Whether you hyphenate or go with a space, your full legal name will be both last names. For those legal documents you cited, you would have to use both names. What you could do is use your maiden name informally/socially/professional, while using your preferred last name in full when necessary (e.g., legal documents, government forms).

      Reply
    2. hallie

      I'm in the same boat… doctoral degree, publications, and current industry job all in my maiden name. I may go back to the academic world at some point as well to continue teaching and researching. I am getting married in a couple months and have been struggling with how to find a happy medium between keeping my professional/research ties to my maiden name and have his last name for familial unity when we have kids. Robin, what did you decide?

      Valera – Please correct me if I'm wrong here… just trying to wrap my head around the options… Hyphenating the two names would then file everything under the first letter of the hyphenation? However, it doesn't seem like it legallly matters which last name comes first in the hyphanation, correct? If a space is used to create two last names, then on legal documents (such as drivers license) one would still have to write both last names "first last1 last2", but on informal documents (such as professional journal publications) one could go by either "first last1" or "first last2", correct? If was to resume publishing articles under my new full married name of "first last1 last2", would search engines recognize two last names as TWO LAST names? Or would it assume that "last1" is instead the middle name, changing the search field to "first middle last2" ?

      Thanks!
      Hallie

      Reply
      1. Valera

        Hyphenating the two names would then file everything under the first letter of the hyphenation?

        Correct.

        However, it doesn't seem like it legallly matters which last name comes first in the hyphanation, correct?

        Correct.

        If a space is used to create two last names, then on legal documents (such as drivers license) one would still have to write both last names

        Yes, the complete name.

        but on informal documents (such as professional journal publications) one could go by either "first last1? or "first last2?, correct?

        You could, but for the sake of consistency and simplicity, you may want to choose one and stick with it.

        If was to resume publishing articles under my new full married name of "first last1 last2?, would search engines recognize two last names as TWO LAST names?

        If you're talking generic search engines (e.g., google, bing), then it's hard to say. I doubt it would be much of an issue considering search engines use a multitude of hints and cross-references to piece together a result set. I doubt it would be much of an issue.

        If you're referring to specialized search engines that query name data fields, then it depends on if records are stored in the proper format with the names correctly segmented. That's really something that would have to be dealt with on a per-site basis, or going direct to the source that's distributing the data to these sites and requesting a correction/clarification.

        Reply
  22. tina

    I'm getting married in 2weeks may 22 2015 I took on my future husband last name only. But I dont want to change my drivers license and SS card for personal reason. What will happen if I don't change any of them to my new marriage name ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What will happen if I don't change any of them to my new marriage name ?

      Nothing will happen. Nothing will change. Your current name will remain as it always has.

      Reply
  23. janet vazquez

    I am already married for now 17 1/2 years , now after i married my husband i wanted my maiden name back , but i want to add it to the married name , i just want to know how to go about it , i especially want it back on now that my dad has pass away, he has no son and i am the oldest , and can i add this to my children middle name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Janet. If you formally changed your name 17 years ago, you'd have to petition the court to change it once again. Your local courthouse can provide you details regarding the procedure, fees, and timeline.

      Reply
  24. Brittany

    Hi! I'm married almost two years now and yet to change my last name! My husband want me to change my name completely. I'm the only child for my father and I know that this will definitely hurt him. I think you went over all the possible answers for the questions that I would ask… was just wondering if you have any suggestion on how to communicate my feelings with my husband. :-)…

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Brittany. You shouldn't feel obligated to undergo a name change. If you're unsure of making the change, then decide later. Even much later. If you're certain the change is not for you, finalize that decision and try your best to explain the reasoning behind that decision to your spouse. Think of it this way… two years have passed without your undergoing a name change, and chaos has not ensued. So it's just a matter of sticking to your choice and leaving things as-is.

      Reply
  25. Nancy J

    I am about to marry my boyfriend of 17 yrs….. but I own a home ….. How does me taking on his last name effect my paperwork on the house?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nancy. Unless you're advised otherwise, your current legal name would go on such paperwork.

      Reply
  26. Delila

    Hi,

    I think my question may be already answered but my fiance and I are getting married next month and we are applying for our marriage license in two weeks. I want to keep my maiden name and add his last name. Maybe hyphenate it? Would I have to change it on legal documents, social security, drivers license, taxes, etc. or can I keep all my documents as is? I just don't really want to go through all the paperwork (if any) to change everything.

    Thanks :)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      It seems that you're looking to use a hyphenated name informally/socially, while still maintaining your maiden name as your legal name? There's nothing out of the ordinary about that. If you keep your documents as-is, then your name wouldn't change. Your maiden name will remain your name. You wouldn't have to update any of the documents you cited.

      Reply
  27. Scott W

    Hello, my husband and I got married in The Netherlands where they don't change their last names on the marriage certificate, and so therefore ours only reflects our original names. Even their passports show their original names and in small text below say "married to XXXXX". We'd like to hyphenate here in the US. Where do we begin? Everything I've seen says the marriage certificate must show the new hyphenated last name.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Scott. Your foreign marriage certificate would be accepted as valid, and usable, as-is.

      Reply
  28. Sarah

    I would like to hyphenate and use my husband's name casually, as my daughter still has my maiden. Does it matter which order I hyphenate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sarah. Maiden-Spouse is more common, but going with Spouse-Maiden is also done. The difference is the latter may require you to petition the court, in some states, while the prior does not.

      Reply
  29. Candice

    I have been married for 6 years, but am considering petitioning the court to add back in my maiden name. I would like to do this without an actual hyphen. Would I register it as a second middle name, or 2 last names. I would like to be able to use them interchangeably depending on if it is work environment or another situation.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Candice. If you're going to petition the court, you can compartmentalize it however you prefer.

      Reply
  30. Kim

    I am getting married in Sweden in two months. I want to take his name as is traditional, but I am concerned about my passport and other documents as I leave the country and come back to the United States. How do I handle it? I apologize in advance if someone already asked..I tried to read all responses before I asked but there are so many!!! Thank you…

    Reply
    1. Kim

      Also, I just read the post about the Netherlands… I have not seen my marriage certificate yet in Sweden…Will I not be able to change my name with the marriage certificate as you do in the States??

      Reply
  31. Lex

    I recently got married and didnt hyphenate my last name for example my old name was gonzales vargas, when i got married i changed it to gonzales wilson but i never hyphenated the last names is that okay?

    Reply
  32. Nicole

    Hello,
    sorry if this was already asked, I searched the Comments but I couldn´t find anything similiar.
    I´m soon getting married in Germany to my german Fiance, the Problem is that by german law only one Person can hyphernate and the other keeps the Family name (He has to keep his name and I will be Nicole his-hers because they want to protect the future Kids from endless names) The officer said if I married by californian law ( I was born there) it may be possible that both can have a hyphernated name (both His-Hers). In the comments I think I read that Cali is different? Is it possible? Please help. Thank You!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nicole. Yes, California does allow one or both to have a hyphenated name.

      Reply
  33. Erika

    I would like to properly post my previous married name & my current married name on professional sites like LinkedIn. Right now I have Erika (Smith) Jones. With Smith being the old last name that is what a lot of people will recall. Since I recently remarried 2 yrs. ago there are quite a lot of people that know me only by my new last name of Jones. Just wondering if I did it correctly. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Erika. I think it's a reasonable approach for folks who have knowledge of your previous name, but for others the use of parenthesis can lead to confusion. It can be interpreted as a middle name, alias, or nickname.

      Reply
  34. Shane

    I appreciate all the great comments/questions on this site. My wife hyphenates her name and her workplace finally upgraded the employee directory to include her hyphenated name(we've been married nearly 2 years). Are there certain areas of the country where hyphenating seems more common? I'm from the great state of Arkansas, and there are more women here in The Natural State who hyphenate then a lot of people would realize.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shane. There's not much in the way of reliable last name data (typically provided by the census, last data refresh for 2000) as there is first name data (provided by the SSA, annually updated). I can tell you the top 1000 last names of the 2000 census doesn't include one hyphen. Which is to be expected. You'd have to get into the lower rankings to find real hyphenated references, and then try to cross reference them by state. Not an easy task.

      Reply
  35. Jennifer Newell

    My future husband asked if he could take my last name….I said yes….is that strange. Acceptable which I really don't care. Just never had heard of that so just wondering if anyone else had their husband take their last name…marriage of proper male and female relationship

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jennifer. I don't think there's anything strange about it. It may be less common, but neither odd nor unacceptable.

      Reply
  36. Lisa Martin

    My partner (now wife) and I just got married and our social security cards were changed to our new married name Martin-Hornsby. We live in Texas and when my spouse went to change her license, the DMV said no, they could not change her name to Martin-Hornsby, that she could add my last name on to the end,but not hyphenate it as the first last name. Everyone I have spoken to says this is ridiculous. Straight couples- the male often hyphenates his last name adding hers to the beginning. Any insight into this? I spoke to my attorney who said this is wrong, try another office and if not, we will proceed with action to get it done.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lisa. Your counsel's advice does make sense. It may be worthwhile to try another office or clerk.

      Reply
  37. Erica

    Thank you for all your advice. My question is what do I do if some of my official documents (bank, IRS, work, Soc Sec) have me listed as Erica MiddleName MaidenName MarriedName with my two last names unhyphenated, but when I moved, I foolishly, for convenience sake, filled out others (DMV, Voter Registration, passport) with just MarriedName as last name and MaidenName as a second middle name.

    I am assuming I would need to petition the court for a name change so that everything is uniform. Initially I was thinking I would hyphenate the two last names to alleviate confusion that I seem to encounter around my two unhyphenated last names, but my actual preference is to keep the two unhyphenated last names and just make all documents uniform. However, on the name change forms in California where I live, they don't ask for your former last name, but for what your current name is and what you want to change it to – so it looks like I'm asking to change from Erica MiddleName MaidenName MarriedName to Erica MiddleName MaidenName MarriedName, which looks redundant and seems ridiculous.

    Is there either some way to indicate that I would like to use the two unhyphenated last names as my last name uniformly? (and as an aside, do I even need to list my middle name on the petition form?) Or is it just simplest in light of all the existing complications to just go ahead and hyphenate on my petition? (Sorry this question is so long and complicated). Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Erica. If you're referring the to present and proposed name fields, there should be multiple lines allowing you to specify the before and afters for your various name segments. Before you file your petition you can seek clarification from the court clerk that you've filled it out correctly.

      Reply
  38. Annette

    I am divorced with one child and out of respect for him I'd like to keep my married name and hyphenate with my new married last name. My teenage son would like to hyphenate but my fiance is not on board. He's looking at it like it is my ex-husbands name rather than my son's. I am getting the impression from those around me that this is a strange idea. I am wrong in wanting to have the same last name as my boy? I don't want to insult either man in my life. HELP.

    Reply
  39. Jenna

    When I filled out my application for marriage license, I wrote that my married name will be hyphenated. After being married for a while, I think it will be easier to take two last names instead of hyphenating. Can I change my mind without filling out extra paper work and just move forward with changing from my maiden name to 2 last names instead of a hyphenated last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jenna. It depends on the state. It's not assured that two last names without a hyphen would be recognized. Try getting in touch with your city/county clerk to determine what is/isn't recognized.

      Reply
  40. Tunde A

    If a woman hyphened her name and the children do the same, then, hyphen named (children) married another hyphen named what happens?

    I think, this was simply adopted to avoid a longer thread of confusion and to have a degree of order, but in life, order is what we call it. So, what do you say??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tunde. Probably opt for a segment surname that uses either a part of one party's surname, or a combined segment surname from both spouses.

      Reply
  41. Theresa

    I made the mistake of hyphenating my last name when I married. I kept my maiden name and then added my husbands name. I divorced several years ago and now want to drop his name. Does anyone know how to go about it? Do I just need to visit the SSA?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Theresa. If you requested your maiden name be restored during the divorce proceedings, then you can take a certified copy of your divorce decree to the SSA to change your name. If you did not request the judge restore your maiden name, you can petition the court to change your name. Afterward, you can take your court order to the SSA to restore your maiden name.

      Reply
  42. Sharon

    My declared last name is hyphenated on the marriage certificate, but I want to drop the hyphen when I go about the process of changing my name on documents (so it would be "her his" rather than "hers-his.") . Is that allowed or does it have to be hyphenated? What forms do I have to fill out to drop the hyphen?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sharon. Such double-barred last names aren't as universally recognized as hyphenated. It's allowed in some areas and not in others. The forms you fill out would be the same, but it's just a matter of whether or not it will be recognized.

      Reply
  43. Veronica Taylor

    Hello, I have a unusual problem, I found my biological father several years ago, father's name was left blank on my birth certificate , my mother died 2 1/2 years ago, now my biological father would like for me to have his last name, I would like to drop the last name I was given by my mom because it belonged to her husband, I was not given a middle name but I am married with the last name Taylor , My father's last name is Mcafee, Can I take Mcafee as my middle name and be known as Veronica Mcafee Taylor, did I mention I am 53 years old☺️. Thank you for your help

    Reply
    1. Veronica Taylor

      I did not mention that I now go by Veronica Peaker Taylor, Peaker was the last name given at birth which I now use as my middle name , have I been wrong in doing so , should I have been signing my signature with both last names Peaker Taylor, when I change my name to Veronica Taylor Mcafee, How should I sign my name?

      Reply
      1. Valera

        should I have been signing my signature with both last names Peaker Taylor

        You should if Peaker is part of your last name and not your middle.

        when I change my name to Veronica Taylor Mcafee, How should I sign my name?

        That depends on how you change it. If you want Taylor as your middle name, then you can sign with your full name or just Veronica Mcafee (omitting your middle name). If Taylor is to serve as the first part of your last name, then you'll sign all three names.

        Reply
  44. Emily

    I recently got married and would like to hyphenate my maiden name and my husband's last name. Would I need to obtain a court order to do so in Pennsylvania or could I follow the same process as if I were simply taking his last name only?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Emily. You don't need a court order. The procedure would be the same as just taking your husband's last name only.

      Reply
    2. Shane

      Emily,

      Believe it or not, the process is not as complicated as some may think, especially changing your name on the SS card. My wife hyphenates and it was fairly painless as far as the paperwork.

      Reply
  45. Loralei

    Hello,

    I recently got married to my hubby who is from SD and we have discussed taking on his last name. To complicate things, I am still using my ex-husband's last name and would like to keep it for the sake of my children as well as for documentation purposes. Will it be okay to just hypenate my husband's last name to the current one that I am using? Will this be legal and binding for all documents going forward? Thanks.

    Reply
  46. Rosie

    I have used my change of deed surname, I married for the second time and hyphenated my name with my husband….. the issue I have is with banks they question the fact of my legal document of change of name deed and say it not on my marriage certificate. This action has upset me… I have to wait for someone in the banking world to decide to go againts two rightfully legal documents…. why is this so any help out there ……

    Reply
  47. Julie

    Hello,

    I was married at 19 and divorced at 45. After the divorce I maintained my ex husbands last name for two reasons , my children and that fact that I carried his last name longer than my maiden name. I would also add that changing your name on all your significant documents is time consuming.

    I am now engaged and I really am apprehensive about changing my name. For the fact I am now 51 and for 32 years have carried the same last name. I know my fiance would want me to take his name. There really is no easy solution to this.

    Wondering what some of you thought. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Julie. There's no right or wrong approach. You you can take your time to decide what to do, or not do. Have a look at the keeping your maiden name after divorce article, which covers this topic further.

      Reply
  48. Carrie

    I took my husband's last name and when we divorced, I took my maiden name back. Several years pass, now I am engaged. My fiancé prefers I take his last name, but I am twice shy because of changing my name for marriage once before. I am considering hyphenation or no change at all, but I feel very conflicted about breaking our families' tradition. How can I explain my choice, while honoring the idea of family unity?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Carrie. This topic is covered in greater detail within the keeping your name after divorce article. Ultimately, the choice is yours. You shouldn't feel compelled to make an immediate change, or any change at all, that you'll later regret.

      The procedure for changing your name as a result of marriage is fairly straightforward. Going back to reverse the change is far more time-consuming, so you'll not want to put yourself through unnecessary hassle, if it can avoided.

      Reply
  49. Sheryl Grow

    My wife and I are a same sex couple debating on changing our last names. We have thought of hyphenating the two. If we do this do they both need to listed the same? For example both as Smith-Jones or (Smith being my last name, Jones hers) or can I go as Smith-Jones and she as Jones-Smith?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sheryl. That probably wouldn't be recognized through a marriage-related name change. There typically needs to be a matching name. For instance, the states that allow couples to change their names to something entirely new, it has to match.

      Reply
  50. Kara

    I'm 38 and just got married. I have a professional career where I am known by my maiden name. I will keep both my maiden last name and take his. When filing for taxes as a newly married couple it is very difficult to do so without the same last name. So my last name for the social security card will be my middle name follow by my maiden name. My official "last name" will be changed to his. Is this possible?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kara. Your name doesn't have to match your spouse's when filing taxes. It doesn't matter. Just make sure the name you're filing with matches what's on your social security record.

      Reply
  51. Kathy Sue Smith

    i just got married a few days ago but haven't gone to the social security office yet or filed my marriage certificate that was signed yet at the clerks office. I'm from a small town and am a hair stylist. I dint want to have to change my salon licenses or my business check account. Can I keep my first name/middle name/ divorced name before my marriage/ then my new last name? If so can I just sign Kathy Smith for business but use My first/ middle/ last name before marriage/ new last married name use all for all legal documents ? Do I have to use all names for signing checks , etc??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kathy. That shouldn't pose much of a problem. You can contact your bank to see if they'll recognize your continuing to do business in your preferred name. That way you'll be sure there won't be future surprises when it comes to renewing, cashing, or signing checks.

      Reply
  52. Mel

    I will be getting married in a week and plan on hyphenating my name (my maiden name and his last name). I don't plan on making any name changes to any government docs, etc ( SS, drivers license , passport) but will maintain those under my maiden name. My question is, does this affect us filing jointly on our tax return? For purposes of filing jointly , will I have to make this name change with the social security office?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mel. You'd file your taxes with the name that appears on your social security card. So if you don't intend to change your name with the SS, then you'll file taxes under the name you've been using.

      Reply
  53. Stacy Barzee

    I'm getting married in February. I have a concern about changing my last name. I don't mind taking his last name, but for my Nursing degree I would like to keep Barzee.
    Is there a way to do this? I'm known by my ( ,Barzee) name. I've been a nurse for 13years. I don't want to loose my reputation and have to start all over. Or have to tell everyone who I am again and that I got married.
    Help me out.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Stacy. That's typically not a problem. You'll still want to get in touch with the state's Board of Nursing to be aware of any particulars this may entail. Also, contact your HR department to determine if they'll allow it. Some employers are flexible, while others will want your legal name to appear on your badge and your write-ups.

      Reply
  54. Kimberly

    I got married in Sept. I have not changed my license or ss card..my new health insurance is through my husbands employer so we hyphenated it but Im learning its becoming such a hassle but after being married a couple of times and divorced, I am also the last of the Mason's in my family and I am adopted also I fought to get Mason back after my divorce 11 yrs ago, I dont want to lose my maiden name again plus I absolutely hate my husbands last name Odle..if it were pronounced the way its spelled id be ok but it sounds just funny as hell and even if I were to have just his last name I'd always have to spell it and correct the way people pronounce it so its not like I will have much more to explain when I say Mason-Odle. …I just want to make sure Im doing the right thing keeping both names before I legally change it on my license and SS card…it doesnt ring well together thats for sure and its a mouth full but I do not want Mason as my middle name..I happen to love my name Kimberly Beth besides Beth is a family name dating way back..but Ive heard horror stories about women who have chosen to hyphenate their names such as computer issues and people not know what to call them..my kids are grown as are his so there wont be any children born to us as a couple so that isnt an issue but I cant see people calling me Mrs. Mason-Odle ya know..so how does that work and how do you decide…

    Reply
    1. Kimberly

      Oh I forgot to add that I am in the mists of getting approved for SSDI..so my attorney told me to wait to change everything as Im right on the verge of approval..and the name will change when I change my ss card …I do want to take on my husbands name I just dont think I want to lose my maiden name again but I hate the hyphen..

      Reply
    2. Valera

      I just want to make sure Im doing the right thing keeping both names before I legally change it on my license and SS card

      There truly is no right or wrong. It's a matter of what you can live with and what you might regret. Do you think you might end up changing your mind after changing your name for real? At that point, there wouldn't be anything preventing you from going back, other than the time and expense of going through a court petition.

      Ive heard horror stories about women who have chosen to hyphenate their names such as computer issues

      Folks have reported this here as well, which is a bizarre roadblock to run into.

      I cant see people calling me Mrs. Mason-Odle ya know..so how does that work and how do you decide

      You've not changed your name yet, so you can still decide or decide not to decide, at least for the time being. Or even longer. Or consider an alternative, such as not going through with a change, deferring it to much further into the future, or just using the hypenated version informally.

      Reply
  55. Marla

    I have been hyphenated for 40 years…..it's been a pain, but I just dig in and stand tough. I hyphenated my son's name when he was born.
    Here is the most irritating part and I have never been absolutely sure what is correct. Most folks, rather than trying to make an effort to speak my name properly, simply call me "Mrs" Jones, rather than the "Ms" Smith-Jones. So, am I "Mrs." Smith-Jones or Ms. Smith-Jones? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Marla. Hyphenating is one of those things that other folks don't often catch onto. They may consider the first part of your hyphenated name as your middle name when you pronounce it. So, they'll just reference the last part of your hyphenated name. It's only really clear on paper.

      So, you are "Mrs. Smith-Jones", but all you can really do when other folks get it wrong is to correct them. Or you can preemptively state that your last name is hyphenated. Something like "Smith-Jones, last name hyphen."

      Reply
  56. Tina

    So, I was married and divorced some years ago, but I kept the married last name due to our children having his name etc. I just remarried, and haven't an issue with his last name, but was thinking to hyphenate it with my current last name of my ex-husband (same as my minor children) wit new married last name…if I do this would I be required to sign the entire hyphenated name or just my new married name even though it would be hyphenated?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      if I do this would I be required to sign the entire hyphenated name or just my new married name even though it would be hyphenated?

      You'd sign your full hyphenated name for legal documents, taxes, employment, government forms, job applications, credit card applications, and so forth. Anything that would have a reasonable chance of querying an official database looking for a name match and it becoming a problem if it's not found. For informal situations, it doesn't hurt to just sign the last part of your hyphenated name.

      Reply
  57. ashely

    Hello, I am entering a same sex marriage. We wanted to take each others last names and add the hypen. (ex: Alice Jone & Angie Smith so then our names would be Alice Jones-Smith & Angie Jones-Smith) when we were doing our license and asked they seemed very unsure then said we cant do that so either i would take her last name & could add a hypen with mine if i wanted or she could take mine but we both cant. I am in Georgia is this true? They said we would have to do a legal name change an petition to get hers to say both last names as mine is going to be.

    also if I hypen the last name do I always have to add the hypen or can i just do it with the space (ex: Jones-Smith but write it Jones Smith)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ashely. There's a more comprehensive Georgia name change page that you can review that discusses various name change options further. But, in summary, Georgia federal and state organizations, such as the SSA and DDS (Department of Driver Services) will honor the name specified on your certified marriage record. But that's not where you're facing difficulty. In Georgia, as you're aware, new names are specified on the marriage license application. So if the clerk handling your application isn't able to process what you've written, then your marriage record won't ultimately reflect your choice.

      Georgia is one of the more lenient states when it comes to name change options, although it's unclear if both spouses taking the last name is going to fly. Based on the lack of information on Georgia state legislature pages, and how the vast majority of states do actually impose a one person name change only rule, it's safer than not to assume what you've been told is accurate. But, as you say, they seem unclear. What you can do is ask them to specify the rule/statute that disallows it, and if it can't be furnished, would your applications still not be accepted and why?

      An alternative is to try another probate court, as a marriage license issued in whichever county is valid statewide.

      Reply
  58. Mrs. Q

    Hi,

    I've been married a little more than 4 years now. When I first got married I had already completed my undergraduate degree and had a house under my maiden name, so I decided to hyphenate to makes transitioning a bit easier. Any who… When I went to SS to have my name changed, the person who helped me insisted my married name had to go first followed by my maiden name. Recently my husband has been asking if I'd consider changing to the more common version of {first name, maiden name-married name} – which is what every other married woman with a hyphenated name I know has.

    My questions is: Is there an actual rule/law as to how I'm supposed to hyphenate my name? Considering I've had mine for 4 years now, I'm a little hesitant to change, especially considering the hassle it is to go through the checklist of documents/accounts I'll have to update!

    Many thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mrs. Q. There's no standard rule, as there's only two options: maiden-married or married-maiden. The prior is more common, and universally allowed, while the latter is not recognized by all states. The one area where it becomes more ambiguous is when people opt to go for a mutated hyphenation alternative, such as a space instead of hyphen, or combining names without a hyphen, or segmenting parts of each name.

      Reply
  59. Carole Friend

    I am getting married in July – my current name is Carole Laverne Friend – I will be a 'Southwell' when married – can I use my middle name and hyphenate it to my new married name

    being………………. Carole Laverne-Southwell

    I live in the UK – will this be a natural process when getting married or do I need to change it by deed poll??

    Reply
  60. Jeffery

    I'm in NY and my same sex partner and I are getting married. The marriage license says surname after marriage, optional. My question is, if we leave that blank and just keep our pre married names (which we plan to do ). Will we have to carry around our marriage license to prove were married? Example, bank accounts, hospitals etc. we own our house which is already in both of our pre married names as well as our car insurance. What this approach affect anything else I'm not thinking of? Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jeffery. Even if you did change your name, that wouldn't be proof of marriage. A certified copy of your marriage certificate will serve as sufficient proof of marriage (name change or not), if an entity requires such documentation.

      Reply
  61. Jennifer

    I read through everyone's comments and didn't see one similar to my situation, so I was curious your thoughts: I'm marrying someone whose ex wife has the same first name as mine. They have 2 children together, so she is keeping his last name. I'm wondering if it would be confusing to merely take his last name as well…. then both myself and his ex wife would have the same name? Should I consider hyphenating it, modifying it, or retaining my maiden name to lessen any confusion?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jennifer. There's no better or worse. I'd advise you to choose whichever "you" prefer and can live with and don't put much stock in what others may think.

      Reply
  62. Doreen

    I am planning to get married later this year. I was thinking that due to being a business owner of a c-corp for the past years, notary, etc., I would like to keep my last name and hyphenate with my last name with his.
    If I do so, can my signature stay the same for work proposes (my maiden last name), and my personal accounts signature different (using my first name and my finances last name)? I understand that legal documents such as bank accounts, drivers license, SS card, Passport, loans, etc. will need to signed with full hyphenated last name, correct?, or at least in the "print name" area?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Doreen. It can vary from state to state, so you'll have to consult your state's guidebook. And, yes, such legal documents should display your hyphenated name in print and signature.

      Reply
  63. Savannah Close-Ige

    Hi Valera, I recently got married almost 2 months ago. I chose to keep my maiden name and hyphen my husbands name but am having second thoughts.. So my question is, since I haven't changed my name anywhere else besides the marriage certificate what would I have to do to be able to change my last name to just my husbands last name? We are moving next month so I havnt changed any documents (drivers license, bank cards etc)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Savannah. You'll need to get a certified copy of your marriage certificate, then use that to go about changing your name with the various institutions (e.g., SSA, DMV, passport office). There's a possibility you may run into complications with the DMV due to the name on your certificate not matching what you're changing it to. This is only the case in some states, such as California. It can also depend on how flexible the agent you're working with is.

      Reply
  64. Krissy

    Hi. I am going to get married next year. I want to keep my maiden name legally to prevent me from changing my name on a list of legal documents that i've had.
    Would it be okay to drop my maiden name on the marriage certificate and take his while maintaining my maiden name legally?
    Secondly, I am a new green card holder and he is British. Would this decision affect any citizenship process in the future fro both countries? Or would i have to change my name legally as it is on the marriage certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Krissy. You don't have to change your name, regardless of what's on the certificate. It shouldn't affect your citizenship, as name change is optional for all.

      Reply
  65. Heather Johnson

    Hi my name is Heather & this is how I feel about Marriage name change. I have been in a 6 year relationship off and on. I have decided when marriage comes. I'm going to keep my madden name and my future husband's name.

    1st off I have always liked my last name, my mom and dad split when I was 8. My mom keep my dad's last name because she has 2 kids with him, and she felt like she would be abandoning her kids by changing her name back to her madden name. Plush she is still married by law, so technically I am the last female on my dads side with his last name (Johnson), also I'm the only daughter he has so I do not see anything wrong with my name being Heather Jean Johnson (Cooper)! And I would put his name last.

    Because when we do have kids, I want them to have there dad's last name. In my eyes that's who they are/will be. I know they will be half (Cooper) and half Johnson. But I guess I'm kinda old school I have my dad's last name, and I want the same for my kids ,and if they do ever come to me, and say mom why did you keep your madden name. And not just daddy's like your kids. I will explain to them that I am the only female left in my family with the last name Johnson. ( that is blood not tru marriage ) and I will reassure them. That I love your daddy so much I took his last name too. That's why your last name is (Cooper) like daddy's and mom's.!!💕💖💙💛💚💟💞💓💘💗 (This is my opinion on the whole taking your husband's last name or not. Why not keep yours, and take your husband's too.I don't see anything wrong/disrespectful about it. 💯
    ✌ AND 💙 # Hyphenated

    Reply
  66. Maria mulato

    Hi
    I'm getting married in a week and I'm putting my fiances last name first then mine do I have to change my (ss,dmv etc.)or can I leave it as it is and also can I keep sighning with my last name or I have to start sighning with his lasts name

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maria. You can continue signing with your last name until you officially change it.

      Reply
  67. Regina Cole

    I will be getting good married in a few months. I am divorced and kept my married name due to having it for 26 yrs. I have several licenses, certifications, etc that have my married name on it. If I hyphenate my name, prior married name-new married name, will all my licenses, ss, DL, etc still be valid and legal or do I have to change everything? Trying to avoid having to change everything.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Regina. They'll still be valid. You'll have to contact your licensing board to determine if records are required to be updated and documents reissued. Some require notification of name or address changes, while others don't. Some may be willing to allow a prior name to stand on your license while making note of your name change internally.

      If you have any licenses that require you to reregister every X number of years, this is something you'll want to be prepared for ahead of time.

      Reply
  68. Domenica

    Hello!

    My last name on my marriage certificate is hyphenated (my last name-his last mame) I never took the time to change my last name with SSA. I have now change my mind and I don't want my last name hyphenated. I want to have his last name only. When I go to SSA to change my last name will they use what is on the marriage certificate? In other words will they forced me to hyphenate my name? Can I just have them switch it to my husband's last name only?

    Reply
  69. Latoya

    Hello,

    I took my husbands last name when I married him. A year and a half into the marriage I changed it to my hyphenated last name (my maiden and his last name). I did change it at the SSA to the hyphenated one. I want to change it now to just my husbands last name again and drop the whole hyphenated thing. Will I have to do a legal name change? Should I just go to SSA and have them change it with my marriage license? I have been married for 9 years. I've looked in to this, and they keep saying if I take these steps, the legal name change will also change my birth certificate to my requested married name. I do not want this, because my birth certificate should only reflect my birth name Any ideas or help?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to change it now to just my husbands last name again and drop the whole hyphenated thing. Will I have to do a legal name change?

      Yes, you'll have to do a court petitioned name change.

      Should I just go to SSA and have them change it with my marriage license?

      No, you'll need a court order, which'll you'll get once your petition is complete.

      I've looked in to this, and they keep saying if I take these steps, the legal name change will also change my birth certificate to my requested married name. I do not want this, because my birth certificate should only reflect my birth name Any ideas or help?

      Birth certificates changes typically have to be initiated by you once you get a court order. You have to get in contact with the recorders office (or wherever your birth certificate is filed), make the request, fill out the forms, and pay their fee.

      Court petitions provide you the document to change your name, but if you choose not to do anything with the court order, then your name won't change.

      Reply
  70. lisa

    Hi I'm getting married in Sept to my boyfriend of 16 years and I wanna hyphens my last name with his last name. I don't have any intentions changing my current documents. He not on my apartment lease with me not dropping my last name can I get in trouble. With his last name only on out marriage certificate. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lisa. It's not a problem. If you choose not to change your name, it won't negatively affect anything.

      Reply
  71. Phyllis Madera Dejarnette

    I was married in 2008, when I applied for my job in 2011 my name is hyphenated by my first, maiden, husbands last name. My question to you is, when I was hired they are using my maiden name for my sinority. Is that legal. Or should they be using my married name? I have no childeren

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Phyllis. Unless there's a state regulation against it, an employer will address you how you prefer. One of an employers' main concerns is that they're using your proper name for tax purposes, and in your case that may not be happening. If so, it would be in their interest (and yours) to use your current, correct name.

      If you wish to be addressed by your legal name—which is the hyphenated version—then you can make them aware of that. I wouldn't be surprised if their addressing you incorrectly is simply due to a software/database misconfiguration that's being thrown off by certain non-alphanumeric characters.

      Reply
  72. Lynn Crosby

    Hello,
    After 28 years of marriage, my husband passed away, and now, 13 years later, I am remarrying. I would like to retain my married surname, not only because I share it with my two children, but also because I am teacher who has been known by my current last name for over twenty years. I thought of hyphenating my new name, but feel it will be a mouthful for my young students to say. Yet I don't want to offend my soon-to-be husband if I keep my current last name instead of changing it to his. While I realize this is a personal decision, I am still looking for some advice on what to do. How exactly would I sign the marriage certificate if I haven't decided by then? Thank you…

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lynn. Some states (e.g., California) want the "change to" name on your marriage license to match what you intend to change it to. So, if believe you may change your name, it's safest to specify the new name. It's non-binding, meaning if you ultimately choose not to go through with any name change, it won't impact you.

      Reply
  73. Renee

    I have been married and divorced two times. I just changed my last name back to my maiden name last year so I don't want to have to change it again, especially at my work. I want to take his last name but want to keep my maiden name for work. How should I do this? If I were to keep my middle name and my maiden name and add his name do I have the option of signing with either last name?
    First name/middle name/maiden name/ married name. If I have to last names, with no hyphen, can I write either name when signing things?

    Reply
    1. Renee

      I don't want to hyphen the two names because my maiden name is already long so I want the option of signing my married name outside of work while keeping and signing maiden name at work.

      Reply
    2. Valera

      I want to take his last name but want to keep my maiden name for work. How should I do this?

      At a minimum, your employer will use your married name for tax purposes, but how else they'll use it (e.g., email name referencing, bulletin board posts, checks, print-outs) is up to them.

      If they're going to be changing your name within a database, where will that new name be outputted? And if you prefer to keep that information private, you'll have to work out how they can accommodate your preference. That's something you can find out in advance.

      If I were to keep my middle name and my maiden name and add his name do I have the option of signing with either last name? First name/middle name/maiden name/ married name. If I have to last names, with no hyphen, can I write either name when signing things?

      On government documents or any document that has a legal basis, you'd sign your full name. Anything that might run a query against your full name (e.g., medical/car insurance, resume) also use your full name.

      Reply
  74. Rose Siengsubcharti

    Hello, I'm from Southern California but was married in Michigan. On our Marriage Certificate, I'm listed as First Name Married Name. However, I'd like to keep my Maiden Name as my Middle Name (I currently do not have a Middle Name). So my new name would be:

    First Maiden Married

    I thought the change could take place at the Social Security level but was told that to have my Maiden as a Middle changed but was told that this was a whole new process that would involve changing my birth certificate? (I live in LA County) And that I would have to petition the court first.

    If approved, what will be on the birth certificate? It seems redundant to have First Maiden Maiden.
    Then I will have to change this on my marriage certificate too right? So it will First Maiden Married.

    However, if this is all correct, then it is FINALLY at this point that I go to Social Security to have it legally changed to First Maiden Married.

    Is this all correct?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rose. If you're going to petition the court, you could go directly to First Maiden Married, and skip the intermediary First Maiden Maiden. In this case, you wouldn't need to mess with or use your marriage certificate—your court order will be sufficient to change your name with all the necessary institutions.

      Reply
  75. S.carter

    Not a question, just a statement. I'm getting married today and as per tradition, fully plan on taking my fiancee's last name. Some people only hyphenate on social media sites like Facebook to keep confusion of friends to a minimum, which I will be doing. 😄

    Reply
  76. Amy

    Hello, I live in Texas and got married about 2yrs ago. I would like to keep my maiden name and add my husbands last name without the hyphen. I also have a middle name and would like to keep it also, so it would look like…

    First Middle Maiden Husbands.

    How would I go about changing it? Would I have to legally change it then go to ss or just go directly to ss? Also would I need to use both last names or just one or the other when signing anything not just legal documents?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Amy. I believe such a name change would require a court order. And, yes, you should sign both names.

      Reply
  77. Douglas Bourke

    What happens when one party with a hyphenated last name marries someone also having a hyphenated last name!!!!!! There may well be three hyphens in the brides married family name!!! How stupid, because in reality the connotation is that the person is a bastard – not knowing what their family name really is!!!!

    Reply
  78. Gary Philpott

    Hi.

    I am Irish and got married to my American wife. I am filling out my Green Card forms. On our marriage cert she changed her name to hyphenated Acevedo-Philpott. Her Drivers license now says Acevedo-Philpott but her SSN and Passport still say Acevedo. When filling out the forms it asks for my Wife's Family name .Would this be Acevedo or Acevedo-Philpott?

    Thanks in advance.
    Gary

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Gary. Generally, it's the name that's on the social, so Acevedo.

      Reply
  79. Isabella

    Hello,

    I am a resident of Arizona, was married there in 2015 and kept my maiden name. I would like to add my husbands name and would like advice which option is the easiest in terms of legal paperwork.

    Option A: I do not have a middle name. So, this option I would my my maiden name my middle name and take my husbands last name.

    Option B: Hyphenate

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Isabella. Option B (hyphenate) shouldn't pose a problem. Option A might give you difficulty due to your not having an existing middle name. You can contact your driver's license office to confirm if a new middle would be honored.

      Reply
  80. Michelle Ware

    I changed my name 10 years ago to my husband last name. Now, I would like to hyphenate it. How hard will this process be?

    Reply

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