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Your legal name is...?

(27 Posts)
Rosina Sun 09-Dec-18 10:10:53

'Not sure if 'Ask a Gran' is the correct thread for this - perhaps there is a legally trained Gran out there who has the answer. We had no answer to what a married woman's legal name is. If you choose to retain your single name, as many do, that presumably has to be legal as you are changing nothing. If you choose to use your husband's name, apart from notifying various organisations that you are now going to be called Mrs. Smith instead of Miss Brown, that is legal too. However, the register is signed with the woman's single name, although she will have gone through a marriage ceremony.
If you choose to change your name you need to do this by Deed Poll for it to be officially recognised for entering exams, obtaining mortgages etc. Also, it is acceptable to change your name without any official input as long as you use your legal name for official purposes. We went round in circles for some time - does anybody know how this works?

Jane10 Sun 09-Dec-18 10:23:43

I have 2 names. A married and professional one and a pen name. On official forms if using my pen name I usually have to claim it as such eg for HMRC or PLR.
I think you can call yourself whatever you like but legally might have to stick to your formal name. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

stella1949 Sun 09-Dec-18 10:36:49

The marriage ceremony is not the "legal" part . Signing the register is the legal part, so the woman still signs with her maiden name . She is only legally married AFTER she signs the paperwork.

Elegran Sun 09-Dec-18 11:09:48

Signing the register confirms that someone called XXXX has married someone called YYYY. Signing it with her married name it would only confirm that someone called YYYY has married an unknown woman. Not much use as a record!

She can still use that maiden name if she wants to - she doesn't stop being who she was before marriage - or she can mark her new life as his partner by taking his surname, it is up to her.

Her "legal" name is whichever she chooses, or a completely different one if she wishes, but if she changes it from the name she was born with or the one she married, she has to inform anyone who might be confused or cheated.

maryhoffman37 Sun 09-Dec-18 11:09:51

I didn't change my name on marriage (in 1972) but I've never heard that anyone who does has to go through the deed poll route. Don't you have a driving licence or passport in your married name? That should be sufficient ID for anything.

NemosMum Sun 09-Dec-18 11:15:07

Rosina - you are essentially correct. A woman may choose to take her husband's name, or she may not, or she may choose either, depending on the context. A woman is legally entitled to use her 'maiden' or family name all of her life. The husband's family name is a courtesy title, and in times past, when Miss Sarah Smith married Mr. John Brown, she would style herself "Mrs. John Brown." However, if she was a professional or business woman, she might well have remained "Miss Sarah Smith, Solicitor" or Dr. Sarah Smith. However, at home and in the locality, everyone would know her as Sarah Brown. Many people these days choose to add the husband's family name to their own, as the Americans do, so Sarah becomes "Sarah Smith-Brown" (with or without the hyphen). So, it is really a matter of choice for almost everything, and in Law you can call yourself anything you like, except for a few things. For example, if you fill in a DBS form, you must complete ALL the names you have ever been known by. So, I think you do pretty much whatever you like!

David1968 Sun 09-Dec-18 11:18:32

We married in 1983 & I kept my maiden name. This hasn't been a problem legally, though I've had to explain it a few times, especially in the early years when hardly anyone did this. I recall that with one legal document (it might be my Will) the solicitor insisted that I include a phrase to say that I had retained my maiden name on marriage. I understand that you can call yourself what you like, provided it's not for fraudulent purposes.

sazz1 Sun 09-Dec-18 11:21:03

When you marry you can legally change your Christian name or names and your surname to anything you want. My sister did this as she was always known by her 2nd Christian name

Cathy21 Sun 09-Dec-18 11:28:54

Not really the same subject but we renewed our vows at sea this summer on our 58th anniversary. I had to send a photocopy of original papers to Fred Olsen before we could even book the ceremony,

JaneJANE60 Sun 09-Dec-18 12:03:19

Hi. Slightly changing the subject, but does anyone know if you have to use a solicitor to change your name by deed poll. My mum remarried many years after my dad died, this man then died, but she kept his name. She is now 99 and wants to revert back to her first married name, so that he death certificate is in that name. The bank are insisting that this has to be done legally, but the guidance on the website is a little vague. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

grannyactivist Sun 09-Dec-18 12:08:06

My daughter retained her maiden name when she married and there was a great deal of discussion about her husband adopting her name, but eventually he decided to keep his own. Their daughter's surname is also the same as her mother's.

sodapop Sun 09-Dec-18 12:11:34

I wasn't aware there was a legal requirement fora name change. I reverted back to my maiden name when I divorced and just had to inform everyone by letter.

maryeliza54 Sun 09-Dec-18 12:53:42

JaneJ here’s the official government link - avoid all others - you can do it yourself

Marieeliz Sun 09-Dec-18 13:05:22

Feel sorry for anyone, in future years, trying to trace their family tree. It will be a nightmare. Our ancestors had the sense to call eldest son after father and grandfather! Women changed their names to their partners name. Simple.

BlueBelle Sun 09-Dec-18 13:34:38

I changed my name by deed poll and yes I had to do it through a solicitor and if I remember rightly had to have another solicitor present and to sign it
Sodapop it’s my understand you can call yourself anything but unles it’s done by deedpoll you can’t use it for legal papers like passports etc Thats how it was explained to me when my second marriage ended in divorce I felt very uncomfortable with having a different name to my children so I reverted to my old name but had to do it by deedpoll for it to be officially recognised

Izabella Sun 09-Dec-18 13:59:53

I changed my name by deed poll before divorce and have kept that name with two subsequent marriages. It made it simpler from an occupational point of view.

DotMH1901 Sun 09-Dec-18 14:19:53

Marieeliz - not in Scotland they don't - married women retain their birth surname and can opt to be called by their husband's name if they wish.

SueLindsey Sun 09-Dec-18 14:29:11

I kept my "maiden" name on marriage (1981) but had to have
an argument with a solictor (we were buying a house at the time) who insisted that this would make the contract invalid. Hope solicitors nowadays are better informed!

Theoddbird Sun 09-Dec-18 14:55:10

I have always used my birth name. My signature is actually just my first name....always been accepted. I know a couple where the husband took his wife's name. There are no rules as far as I know. You don't have to do it by deedpole though many women think they do if they revert to maiden name after divorce

NanKate Sun 09-Dec-18 15:11:54

I have two names for different purposes. My married name and my middle name and maiden name. It works well for me.

I was called Kathleen by my parents andnpeople of that era, Kathy by those people who know me from the 1960s and Kate by those who know me from the 1970s. I won’t tell you want my sister calls me 🤭

grandtanteJE65 Sun 09-Dec-18 16:07:33

In Scotland your legal name is the name you use, as long as you didn't deliberately change it in order to defraud someone or commit some other crime, so I can legally there call myself Mrs. Husband's surname, or Mrs Maiden name. Likewise if my husband finds spelling my Scottish maiden name easier in Scotland than his own Danish one that is all right too.

If we cross the border into England, none of the above applies.

In most countries you are safest going on the assumption that your legal name is the one on your passport, driving licence etc.

And for heaven's sake don't book an airline ticket in any other name than the one on your passport these days, or you won't be allowed on the flight.

ManicMaggie Sun 09-Dec-18 16:41:14

JaneJANE60 if your mums bank are insisting it’s done legally then it sounds like the bank mean officially. There are 2 ways your mum can change her name, No 1 :-Either through a solicitor/ legal representative or No 2 :- By herself. If she chooses No 2, to just let people know she’s changing her name without going through a solicitor/legal representative that could be a bit of a problem as although she can do this by herself legally it won’t necessarily be accepted by officials I.E:- Banks, DWP ( state pensions ) etc. I changed mine & my childrens names by Deed Poll officially in the late 90’s which involved a solicitor and it was also notorized but at least that way I knew everything was done legally so to speak, but also that I knew that it would be accepted by EVERYONE be it an official or anyone else. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help. Good luck

GabriellaG Sun 09-Dec-18 17:11:34

When changing your name by deed poll, you officially renounce the use of the name you have been using, birth/ married names etc and vow only to be known by and use the new registered name. That is for official purposes. In day to day life you can call yourself Mickey Mouse as long as it's not for fraudulent purposes. Doing so can attract a jail term for serious offences. grin

Barmeyoldbat Sun 09-Dec-18 17:11:39

We were living together for many years before we married and I changed my name by deed poll in the end as it was easier to be accepted by every one it even reduced our car insurance.

jenni123 Sun 09-Dec-18 17:36:35

I changed my name by deed poll and did it all online. It is a legal document but i didn't use a solicitor. I had to get it signed and witnessed and sent back to the company, they then sent me several copies which were needed to get driving licence, bank, NHS , passport etc in new name.