Not long ago, I went through a legal name change. Now that all you June brides have shaken the rice out of your hair, I thought I would let you in on what's in store. Though marriage is a top reason people change their names, it's not the only reason. Here are the top 10 in the U.S.:
- Never liked it/felt it was right in the first place.
- Hard to pronounce or spell
- Interfering with career advancement or job search
- Getting married (92 percent of American women still take their husband's name)
- Getting divorced
- Want to remain anonymous (writers, reporters, detectives, etc.)
- Want a more "American" name (or got one through inattention at immigration)
- Need a shorter, sexier name (actors, musicians, etc.)
- Other reasons (gender reassignment, spiritual/religious conversion, etc.)
I didn't change my name when I got married 32 years ago, so it felt slightly silly to change it now. But I'm old enough to vote, drive, get a tattoo. Hell, I'm old enough to join AARP. I think I'm old enough to decide what my name is.
I looked up the rules and talked to friends who have done it. I was assured it was not hard. It's basically just a two step process:
- Submit a form in court for a judge's approval.
- Update your legal documents.
What I didn't realize was that while young brides may have a few documents to update, by the time you reach my age, your name is attached to more paper than the U.S. Code and updating your legal documents becomes a new career. I created the chart below to serve as a guide for anyone thinking of embarking on this "simple" process:
Would I still do it, had I known? Hell, yeah.