So you are getting married - congratulations! Have you decided whether you want to change or separate your last name (surname)?
It's an exciting time, but also a stressful and confusing one. With all the energy, time, and money spent planning a wedding, now is the time to think about a name change as well.
Honestly, I haven't thought about my options when it comes to changing my last name after marriage.
I just used my husband's last name because it's traditional and seemed better at the time.
I don't regret my decision, but I wish I had read this post to know about all the name change options available.
What is a hyphenated last name?
A hyphenated last name is a combined last name of two spouses. A hyphenated last name may also be called a double last name or double last name.
For example, Sarah Smith marries Adam Jones.
A hyphenated last name would be Smith-Jones or Jones-Smith. It's your choice which name comes first.
Splitting your last name is considered a legal name change — meaning you cannot omit your spouse's first name or hyphen in the future without undergoing a court-ordered name change.
There are many good reasons to split your last name - but also some things to remember.
Advantages of hyphenation
- You still keep your name!Separating your last name allows you to preserve your identity while accepting that of your spouse. Your friends, colleagues and customers will not lose sight of you after the name change.
- Preserve your professional identity.Hyphenation can be great if you are using your current last name for work reasons. Are you a doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur or hold a university degree/certification? If that's the case, it might be in your best interest to keep your last name, and hyphenation lets you do that.
- Honor your family heritage.Hyphenation is also a good option if you have a predominant last name or if you are the last to have your last name.
Disadvantages of Hyphenation
- You will have a long name.Hyphenation means you will likely have a very long last name. It's worth writing down your hyphenated name and saying it out loud a few times to make sure you look and sound like you.
- Your last name may be too long.You've probably found yourself in situations where you've run out of space when entering your last name in print and online forms.
- It will probably confuse some people.You might end up confusing people if you hyphenate your last name, but don't end up using it in personal or professional situations. For example, you might tell others that your last name is Sarah Smith, but your real name is Sarah Smith-Jones. People may not know what your legal last name is if you are contradictory.
- This will not make it easy to change your name after marriage.Hyphenation is considered a legal name change, so you will still need to keep all of your legal documents (Social Security card, driver's license, passport, etc.) and personal accounts (banks, credit cards, TSA Pre✓, etc.). If that sounds too boring to you, it might be best to keep your current last name.
- Your spouse will have a different name unless you want to change theirs as well.It is unusual for both spouses to have hyphenated surnames.
- People can just ignore one of your last names.Some people just don't care about your last name and will choose one of your last names when referring to you.
- You probably have a different last name than your children.Another potential downside is when it comes to your children. It is not common to give your children a hyphenated last name, which means that you probably have a different last name than your children.
While there are more downsides than upsides listed, hyphenation is still a great name change option.
How to separate my last name?
Okay, now that we've talked about the pros and cons of hyphenating your last name, it's time to talk about how to do a hyphenated name change.
The first thing you need to do is check with your state to learn more about your options for changing your married name.Cornell maintains an up-to-date marriage law database.where you can select your state to learn more about your marriage laws.
if you are not sureCheck with your county accounting office (where you apply for a marriage license) to see which last name change options are accepted in your state. Every state is different and options for changing married names are constantly changing.
When requesting your marriage certificate, tell the county clerk that you want to hyphenate your last name. That way, when asked for the desired post-wedding last name, your marriage certificate will be filled in correctly.
Once your marriage is complete, you will receive your marriage certificate documenting that you are married to your spouse.
Your marriage certificate serves as a legal name change document that you will use during your stayName change after marriageprocess.
If you're already married and can't find your marriage certificate, check out our guideHow to get a certified copy of your marriage certificate.
Once you have your marriage certificate in hand, you can start your name change process.Apply for a new social security cardunder its new name.
I'm not sure I want to be apart anymore. What are all the options for changing my last name?
(For the following examples, assume that Sarah Ann Smith marries Adam Jones.)
- Don't change anything and keep your maiden name.Some common reasons spouses choose to keep their maiden name are if it is closely related to their occupation, if they are the last person in the family to have the last name, or if you just love your last name. Regardless, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to keep your maiden name! Also, it's the easiest as it requires ZERO paperwork for a name change after marriage.
Exemplo: Sarah Ann Smith
- Take your spouse's last name.There's not much to explain here. This option deletes your maiden name entirely and replaces it with your spouse's. It is the most common and traditional marital name change routine.
Exemplo: Sarah Ann Jones
- Change your maiden name to your middle name and use your spouse's last name.This is an increasingly popular option when you want to keep your maiden name in your full name. You can also keep your middle name or drop it - it's up to you. Observation,each state has different lawsabout what counts as a married name change. You may have to undergo a court-ordered name change to change your middle name.
Example: Sarah (first) Ann Smith (middle) Jones (last) or Sarah (first) Smith (middle) Jones (last)
- Separate your name from that of your spouse.As we discussed in detail above, hyphenation allows you to keep your maiden name while adding your spouse's. Many spouses choose to hyphenate because they think it's the best of both worlds because they don't lose their names and can take their spouses.
Beispiel: Sarah Smith-Jones Sarah Jones-Smith
- Two surnames without a hyphen.Pretty self-explanatory as it is similar to hyphenation but without the hyphen. This method allows you to use both surnames interchangeably. You must continue to sign all paperwork with both last names as this is considered your legal last name.Each state has different laws about what counts as a married name change.Therefore, you may have to undergo a court-ordered name change to have two non-hyphenated surnames.
Exemplo: Sarah Smith Jones
- If your spouse is a man, let him take your name.Many states allow a man to change his last name as a result of marriage. Before considering this option,Be sure to research what's legal in your state..
Example: Sarah and Adam Smith-Jones or Sarah and Adam Jones-Smith
- Create a new last name.This requires both you and your spouse to undergo court-ordered name changes. I've seen some couples come up with new mixed surnames. Again, it's your name, so it's for you! Learn more about court-ordered name changes hereon here.
Example: Sarah Smithnes (combines Smith and Jones)
Should I use my spouse's last name?
Absolutely not! Although more than 80% of spouses change their last name after marriage, there has recently been an increase in the number of spouses who have chosen to keep their maiden name - not changing their last name or using a hyphen.
Everyone has a different reason for deciding for or against a new last name. The good news: the choice is 100% yours and your spouse's!
How to separate my last name after marriage?
- Check with the registry office to make sure your state allows hyphenated surnames after marriage.
- Apply for your marriage license and tell the county official you want to hyphenate your and your spouse's last name. If your marriage certificate requires you to enter your first name upon marriage, be sure to enter your desired hyphenated last name.
- After your marriage ends, go to the Social Security office with your marriage certificate and apply for a new Social Security card. Your name change is considered legal after your name has been updated with the Social Security Administration.
- Start changing your name everywhere else - your driver's license, passport, bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, etc.
What is the correct order of hyphenated surnames? Which name comes first?
It's entirely up to you, but usually your last name is your spouse's first and second (the person hyphenating) and second (assuming your spouse doesn't break up).
I choose to hyphenate my last name. Does my spouse also have to separate?
No, it's also your spouse's decision.
Can I separate my child's last name from my first name?
No, your child must undergo a court-ordered name change to hyphenate. If you are expecting a child, you and your spouse must decide which surname the child should have. The child can have the mother's last name, the father's last name, or a hyphenated last name.
Can I separate my last name without legally changing it?
In truth no. You can use a hyphenated last name in informal social situations (on social media, among friends, etc.), but you must use your real name everywhere else (at work, in your personal accounts, when signing your name, etc.).
Deciding which last name to use or not is stressful enough. Then you must go through the actual process of changing your last name on all of your state and federal identification cards, as well as all of your personal accounts.
Fortunately, there are tools likeRenamedthis can help make the rest of the name change process a lot easier. NewlyNamed offers custom name change kits that include all forms and step-by-step instructions so you can easily change your name anywhere after your wedding.
Changing your last name is a big deal, so take the time to think about what's best for you and your spouse!
Hope this is helpful. Thanks for reading!