When you're considering ways to change your name after marriage while honoring your maiden name, one of the best options to consider is adopting your spouse's last name and making your maiden name your new middle name.
For those that aren't aware, your maiden name is your last name at birth. For men, your maiden name is your birth name too. But the term "maiden" applies only to women.
Since many people choose to adopt a new name after getting married, losing your old name can feel like a tremendous loss and some people even grieve it.
If you're an only child or don't have children, you might worry how your parents will feel when your surname is lost. Who will they expect to carry on the family name now?
Making your maiden name your middle name is a great way to keep it in your life while still following marriage conventions, as far as changing your name goes.
How do you change your middle name after marriage?
You can use a certified copy of your marriage certificate to legally change your maiden name to your middle name. Do it at the same time you change your last name. No extra step.
When you apply for a marriage license, assign your new middle name if they offer a spot to do so. If the application didn't ask, your marriage certificate won't show your new name.
Such an omission isn't a problem. Your new name will get derived from you and your spouse's current and birth names, as shown on your marriage certificate.
Pros of maiden middle names
If you change your maiden name to your middle name, you'll achieve useful, long-term plusses beyond just its sentimental value.
For instance, if your maiden name were Avery, you could tell folks, "Call me Avery." They wouldn't know if it was your first, middle, or last name.
You could go by your maiden middle name informally or socially, while maintaining the veneer of legality. It is part of your legal name, after all.
What happens when you come across unexpected little name changes at non-government institutions and need a quick way to prove that you've changed your name?
Whip out your marriage certificate? That's a hassle. Yet having your maiden name as your middle makes it easy to verify you've "added a name" and you're the same person.
If you were born without a middle name, inserting your maiden name presents a great opportunity to fill that void. This may help make your decision even easier.
If you decide to go forward with your name change, you can save time by using our online name change kit to help complete the transition.
Satisfies your relatives
Your parents and relatives might begrudge you for dropping your birth name. Pride in family and heritage can run deep. Giving up your name may feel like abandoning your legacy.
You may feel yourself shrinking to a child, explaining to your parent why you're changing your name. Perhaps they won't mind, but thinking of the conversation may breed anxiety.
If your name is famous, prestigious, or linked to relatives you admire, making your maiden name into your middle name is a solid way to honor your past while honoring your commitment to your partner and future with them.
If you're trying to show that you aren't forgetting where you came from, keeping your heritage as a part of your name is a wonderful gesture and sure to heal rifts that might develop over adopting a brand new name.
The decision to change your name is yours alone. But there's no shame in pursuing a win-win solution that keeps you, your spouse, your family, and your mean in-laws happy.
It's not just women who face the name change question. Some states allow men to take their wife's name. Even pursue a birth name to middle name switch.
Can you have a second middle name?
Today, three out of four people have a middle name. And many of them use it on a regular basis. If you have a middle name, you have a dilemma:
- Do you replace your middle name?
- Do you use your maiden name as a second middle name?
The answer depends on what you think of having two middle names after marriage.
Some use two initials, or one initial and one middle name. And others use just one middle name on a regular basis while keeping the other as a formal middle name.
Just remember: having two middle names can prove unwieldy, especially with forms and documents that only have space for one middle name on them.
Double middle names are uncommon and demand juggling, making sure people don't confuse your dual middle as part of your first or last name.
Usually easier than hyphenation
When you have your maiden name as a middle name, it's easier than hyphenating your name. It keeps your identity clear and compartmentalized.
You'll be able to more easily prove your connection to people on both sides of your family as necessary. This is important for childcare issues, such as flying with children.
You won't struggle with an overly long last name and you don't have to use your middle name on a regular basis—but you won't get penalized if you don't.
Before considering a hyphenated name, assess how well it complements your partner's name. Does it sound good or does it roll off the tongue like an auditory cacophony?
The maiden to middle path may edge out a jarring hyphenated surname. Plus, it means your last name won't be such a mouthful.
Helps ease you through the transition
If you aren't hyphenating your last name because you just want a single last name, perhaps you're choosing your partner's name for convenience or because you prefer it.
In doing so, you might experience a sense of loss. Although there may be ways to reverse your name change, it's best to choose well at the outset instead of backtracking.
By keeping your maiden name active and relevant it won't seem as scary because you won't feel as though you need to abandon what you've been familiar with your entire life.
Your name change should be an act of triumph and celebration. Not of doubt and anguish. Keeping your maiden name alive can help make that a reality.
You get to embrace your new name while keeping the old. This is like having your cake and eating it, too. Sometimes the simplest choice is the best pick.
Disadvantages of maiden middle names
There are a few downsides when executing a maiden to middle name switch. Various states make the process trickier than average (see next section), though most don't.
If you have a middle name, you must choose one or feel like "one of those people" by listing more than one middle name whenever you give your full name.
Getting used to having a middle name is also a process, as you'll need to add this new name to numerous documents. It's time to practice your new signature too.
Everything from your social security card and driver's license to passport should match and reflect your new middle name. You don't want your credentials to drift out of sync.
Some states make this tricky
Only three states don't allow you to replace your middle name with your maiden name after getting married: New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington State.
In these states, you need to petition the court to alter your middle name. The steps can be easy or stressful, depending on how much you enjoy bureaucracy and the court system.
It may be tough since it takes more time, when name changes can already be time-consuming. If you live in one of these states, hyphenation may be the easiest option.
Finding the right balance
Changing your maiden name to your middle name is becoming ever more popular as people try to find a balance between tradition and more practical, modern alternatives.
No matter whether you're leaning towards hyphenating, creating a new last name, or keeping your maiden name, it's worth considering your middle name as a fungible placeholder.