Is One Spouse Required to Take the Other's Surname?

When a couple gets officially married, you are probably used to seeing the woman take her new husband’s surname. And when that occurs, some of you are probably wondering, is that a required thing to do?

The answer to that question is, no. Women are entitled to their maiden name. However, it is generally a tradition or custom to take on the husband’s surname.

Depending on the state you live in, there can be a statutory authority regarding name change upon marriage. In some states, the woman usually has several options. She can use her birth surname, her spouse’s surname, or a combination of both her surname and her spouse’s surname (which is generally hyphenated).

There are, however, a few states that won’t allow a woman those options. When she is married, she is essentially required as a wife to take her husband’s surname.

If a woman would like to take her spouse’s surname, it us not just an easy 1-2-3 step process. Again, depending on the state that you reside in, they will provide a name change procedure for you. Usually, an individual will be required to fill out an application or petition that will be filed with the courts.

The application will ask for general information such as: the legal name, the name the person wishes to take on, birthdate, age, etc. Name change applications generally take a while to be processed, but it is usually very rare that an application is denied. If you have legitimate reasons for wanting to do a name change, your request will likely be granted.

Now you all are probably wondering, what about a divorce? Do I get to keep my surname or do I have to go back to my maiden name? The answer to that question is, it is completely up to you. The woman has the choice of taking back her maiden name or keeping her married surname.

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