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June 28, 2005

Maiden Names

A male friend (who's divorced) asked me what I thought about asking your ex to change her married name BACK to her maiden name. 

I had no clue really, despite being divorced, since I never changed my name in the first place and never changed it back.

Behind his question is his desire that she change it -- essentially release HIS name -- and return to hers.  She doesn't want to. 

I'd never thought of it from a man's point of view, that he might want his ex to stop bearing his name.  And that she would want to retain it.

If I had changed my name, I would want to go back to my original name ... but it's moot, as I can't now and couldn't then imagine changing my name anyway.

Posted by Halley Suitt at 04:41 PM in People | Permalink


In my opinion (yes, as a male), weird situation to begin with. Neither myself nor my significant other want to get involved with the name-change if/when we do get married. Why should she give up her name? It's the one she's used to, part of her identify, you might even say.
Changing the name when getting married is creepy, if you ask me.

Posted by: Dino Morelli at Jun 28, 2005 5:33:07 PM

He can go ahead and ask, but he shouldn't get his hopes up. His last name isn't a sovereign's gift that he can bestow and remove. Obviously he gets that on some level since he's floating the trial balloon before asking, but were I in the ex's position, I'd probably respond by saying, "no, why don't you change your last name instead?"

Posted by: Peter at Jun 28, 2005 5:42:01 PM

My sister and her husband had a unique solution to the name issue. Instead of taking his name, or him taking her name, they made up a new last name together.

Posted by: Erin at Jun 28, 2005 6:16:29 PM

First marriage: I changed my last name to his, because I'd told people for years (long before meeting him, in fact) that I'd take a guy's last name if it was easier to spell than my maiden name. Can't get much easier than "Smith," so I did.

When we split up, it was still a lot easier to spell, and plus, we'd had a kid. Once you have a kid, well, it's a lot simpler to deal with the world when you and the kid have the same last name.

Second marriage: by this time, I had a known name in my field and changing it to his would have been confusing at best. And given the kid situation, I decided to stick with husband #1's last name although I'm married to husband #2.

It's confusing, but it works for us (although I don't have a problem answering when people refer to me as "Dori Negrino")

Posted by: Dori at Jun 28, 2005 7:00:47 PM

I didn't change my name the first time I married. But the second time I married a man whose name had a lot of history associated with it--there's even a town named after his family. My name, on the other hand, had no history. My father changed his name when he moved to the US, due to concerns about anti-German sentiments.

I loved the idea of my kids having a connection to a place through their name, so I decided to change my name as well. But as a conciliatory gesture, I kept my original last name as my middle name, and gave it to my oldest son as his first name.

As to the issue in the post above, names aren't property, to be given and taken away. If the woman he married changed her name when she married, it was her choice to do so, and it became a part of her identity when she did. The fact that she's now divorced doesn't nullify that act or that part of her life. If she decides to change her name again, that's her choice--not his.

I find myself wondering why he's threatened by her retention of that name. What possible impact does it have on him what his ex-wife chooses to use as her name? Sounds like a control issue to me.

Posted by: Liz Lawley at Jun 28, 2005 8:20:58 PM

I think if you have kids, and you had the same name while married, you keep the same last name as your kids, whether the ex likes it or not. You're still a family, just a divorced or widowed one. With no kids, sky's the limit. Call yourself Walmart if it makes you happy.

Now, being that I own sessum.com, my husband's last name's domain, that would make for
an interesting situation if we ever happened to unravel ourselves into court. Of course, it's the kiddo's name too. Really, Your Honor.

Interesting conversation. I grew up with a widowed mom who took my stepfather's last name when
she married him (I was 12). There was a big sense of loss that I didn't identify until
I grew up that not only did I lose my dad, but my mom became someone else in name. That's no small thing.

These days it's a bit easier for kids to introduce parents with all sorts of names not rlated to their own, but back in the 60s and 70s, it was an oddball thing.

Posted by: jeneane at Jun 28, 2005 9:15:44 PM

That's a very interesting thought. It hadn't even crossed my mind before. Thought-provoking.

Posted by: Cyberesque at Jun 29, 2005 4:45:55 AM

This came up awhile back when one of my friends got divorced. She said she was going to keep her married name because that was the one she had built her professional reputation on. Most of the people in my circle of friends married relatively late, after they had begun to establish their professional reputation. But they still changed their names because they got a lot pressure from both sides of the family. I just think it's interesting that it's more acceptable for a woman to keep her married name because of professional reputation than to keep her maiden name for the same reason.

Posted by: Caitlin at Jun 29, 2005 1:06:13 PM

My (same sex) partner and I decided to change our names legally, after we had our (non-legal) wedding. For us, having the same last name was part of being publicly recognizable as a family.

However, on the question of whose name, we punted and hyphenated, and we will be inflicting that somewhat cumbersome choice on our kids.

If we split up, I think I would probably return to my original name, although it would depend on how old the kids are, and other life circumstances.

Posted by: Liza at Jun 29, 2005 3:48:55 PM

"They are all slave names anyway," a good friend once said to me. Its really a choice between your husband's name or your father's (unless your family-of-origin was particularly librated). When I got married, I hadn't established myself in my career and my mom had already divorced and changed her name. I felt a lot closer to my husband's family than my family of origin and his family had already adopted me in spirit. Changing my name was liberating.

Now, it's my name and I wouldn't consider changing it. I can't even imagine trying to acquire appropriate page rank for a different name :)

Posted by: Sarah Allen at Jul 3, 2005 4:32:16 PM

Out of sheer laziness I never changed my last name when I married. I didn't want to have to go through the hassle of going through all my documentation name-changes. This was the one time my laziness paid off being that I'm not divorced. He had always wanted me to change my name, in his mind it was a "gift" not unlike the wedding ring. By having his last name I would have "belonged" to him more than to my father.

Perhaps this person asking her to "give back" the name just wants to show that she no longer belongs to him.

I certainly have no clue- speculation is an awesome thing sometimes.

Posted by: Belinda at Jul 19, 2005 3:28:01 AM

I meant "now" divorced.

see? too lazy to preview :o\

Posted by: Belinda at Jul 19, 2005 3:32:18 AM

I think it is so silly that women are expected to change their names when getting married, then go back in the event of a divorce. What, are we homeless and nameless without men, supposed to change and adapt our very identity based on whichever man we marry? Changing our names dates back to when a woman was literally GIVEN to a man as his wife, and she went to his village to live with his family. We no longer live in those times and it's about time people's attitudes caught up.
I changed my name in kindergarten when my stepdad adopted me (not legally but in a small family ceremony) and he has raised me ever since. His name is very precious to me and I can't wrap my head around why people think I should give that up just because I have vowed to be with my husband till death do us part.

Posted by: Giovanna at Jul 27, 2005 1:52:21 PM

In my province (Qu├ębec).

You keep your name and never change it, even in marriage.

I think it solves a lot of problems.


Posted by: brem at Jul 29, 2005 3:49:12 PM

Changed my name when I married my first husband because that's what we all did then (1961). I went back to my maiden name when we divorced. When I married my second husband (1971) I did the hyphenation bit and because our two names sounded good together I kept it after we divorced. I married my third husband after many years being single (1979-1995) and I took his name because I wanted to. I guess it made me feel more connected to him and his family.

Looking back although I loved my hyphenated name it was a pain because no one understands that in this country. Most people don't know what a hyphen is so when I had to spell it and I had to a lot (even though both were common names) people would put a slash, an apostrophe, quotation marks, even commas between the two.

My second husband did not change his name to the combined hyphenated name so I felt perfectly justified in keeping it as it was when we divorced. His first wife had kept his name when they divorced. They had kids but I know she would have anyway.

In my opinion you should do what makes you and your husband most comfortable. My current husband just wanted me to do what made me happy.

If you're well known in your profession by your maiden name you can use it for work and legally change it to his and use it outside work. I've known several people who've done this.

Posted by: Fran at Aug 9, 2005 2:15:38 PM

I am now divorced and wish to legally revert back to my maiden name. Please advise as to how to start this process. Cheers, Kathleen

Posted by: kathleen at Aug 16, 2005 1:30:27 PM

The first place I would start is the web site for your county court system. If you can't find it there, try your state Secretary of State's office. In some places, calling will be easier than the web. But legal names are a state law/procedure issue, so the process will vary from state to state.

Posted by: Liza at Aug 17, 2005 2:00:07 PM

Get this, my husbands ex wife threatened to change the last name of their kids to her maiden name upon their divorce. Worst part, their second son's first name was her maiden name! She wanted to change his first name to his last name and give him a whole new first name just to spite my husband. Crazy!

Posted by: Anonymous at Aug 30, 2005 12:52:18 PM

How do I change back to my maiden name since divorcing and how much will it cost me? Is this going to be a drawn out process and frankly a pain in my Ars???


Posted by: Kara at Sep 10, 2005 8:42:17 PM

I am engaged to a divorced man. I guess it's old fashioned, but I will be so happy to have the same last name as my husband-to-be. However, I do find myself wishing that I was the only "Mrs. M..." - I haven't asked him to bring it up and I won't, but it seems unfair that his ex-wife will always have his name and, therefore, my new name as well. We never even met until 2 years after their divorce was final, and became engaged 2 years after that, but somehow her still having his name makes me feel like I'm the "other woman" in the relationship.

Posted by: Anonymous at Oct 6, 2005 1:44:15 PM

I am divorced and remarried. I have a daughter from my first marriage and she is 7. My husband and I have a son now and he is 2. My daughter want to have the same last name as us. My ex-husband is fairly non-existant in my daughters life. I hypenated my name for awhile and have now taken my husbands name completely. Can we hypenate my daughters name because it will be both her biological parents names or will we have to go to court and get my ex-husbands approval? Any advice?

Thanks, Jill in Missouri

Posted by: Jill at Oct 7, 2005 5:03:34 PM

I am engaged to be married to a divorced man, I just found out that his ex-wife still carries his last name. She was the one that initiated the divorce, so one would have thought she would drop his name. I am would be giving up a unique ethnic last name to take his, and I wouldn't even be the only Mrs. Barker.

Posted by: Marian at Oct 10, 2005 8:19:40 AM

My divorce was final today and I can't wait to change my name back. How hard is it to spell and pronounce "Lott"? I make it a habbit of spelling it out after I have to repeat it. And even then, people still don't get it. My maiden name is "Smith" and my boyfriend can't wait for me to go back to that. He said it feel weird to him because he's always known me as Smith and Lott throws him off when it comes up on caller ID or if I make reservations at a restaurant. We dated in high school and started dating shortly after me and my husband seperated. But a real shock came to me today..... I found out my ex husband was married before and I NEVER knew about it. How could he keept aht from me? Now I'm glad I kicked him out.

Posted by: Cris at Oct 14, 2005 10:24:23 PM

My Girlfriend and I plan to be married soon. Maria will very definitely be the Head of the house in our marriage. In recognition of that fact, it is our desire that She keep Her Name, and I take Her Name in the marriage. We will be married in Michigan, in a Matriarchal wedding ceremony. Do you know if that can be done as easily as the reverse is done, or will it require my filing for a legal name change to my married name?

Posted by: Gary at Oct 15, 2005 3:29:41 AM

I am engaged to a divorced man. His ex-wife still has his last name and for some reason it drives me absolutely nuts!! She was the one who initiated the divorce and the annulment,they don't get along at all, so why keep his last name?? They have 2 kids and I get that point, but she wants nothing to do with him. It bothers me so much that she still holds onto that.

Posted by: robin laderoute at Oct 26, 2005 3:28:00 PM