7 Common Reasons for a Name Change
There are a lot of reasons you might decide to change your name or go about changing your child’s name. Below we detail some of these situations and what you might need to know if you find yourself in one of them.
- Following a Marriage or Divorce
One of the most common reasons for a name change is following a marriage or a divorce. Most places make it fairly easy to change your name if you’re a woman and get married.
It can be more challenging for same-sex couples. Changing your name can also be trickier if you’re a husband who will take your wife’s name or a similar, less common situation.
Another increasingly common but still relatively rare situation is when couples hyphenate their names when they get married, use both names, or they might combine their surnames.
Depending on where you live, this type of name change can mean that you have to complete a form when you get married, but in some cases, it could mean navigating a more complex situation.
If you get divorced, you might want to return to your original name. For example, traditionally, women will take their new spouse’s last name when they get married, and then if they’re divorced, they want to go back to using their maiden name.
A name change might be included as part of your divorce proceedings, or local laws where you live could require that you go through a process.
You can change your name if you don’t like it or prefer something else. Don’t assume you’re stuck with a name your parents gave you. If you hate your name or have a name you feel is too difficult for most people to pronounce or spell, you can legally change it.
Some people get rid of their first name altogether if they usually go by their middle name.
Another preference-related reason to change your name is if you’ve always gone by a nickname and you’d prefer that just become your legal name, creating less confusion.
- Changing Your Child’s Surname
Complex familial situations can lead to the need to change a child’s surname. For example, maybe one parent isn’t present when a child is born, but then they take on a more active role later in the child’s life. If so, a mother might have used their surname on the birth certificate and then wanted to change it to the father’s name.
Another similar situation is if the parents aren’t married when the child is born, but then they do later get married. Legal name changes are an option in these situations.
It’s an unfortunate reality that people feel they are discriminated against simply because of their name. For example, they may worry that if they have a certain type of name, they’ll be passed over for jobs or other opportunities, or people will create unfair generalizations about them.
It is illegal to discriminate based on demographic characteristics such as national origin. However, some people do still have the fear they will be the victim of that type of situation.
On the other end of the spectrum, some people want to go back to the origins of their heritage, which means changing the spelling of their name to what it was before their ancestors came to their country.
For transgender people may have grown up with a name they don’t see as a match for their identity. For example, the person might have a name associated with a certain gender, so transgender people increasingly are changing their name to reflect who they are now.
If you have a religion that’s important to you or are a spiritual person, you might want to change your name to reflect whatever that is. There are life experiences in the spiritual sense that can lead people to feel as if their identity in many ways changes, so they want a legal name to indicate the direction of their life based on their beliefs.
Finally, people change their names as part of their personal branding. For example, entertainers will often change their name legally to their stage name. Suppose you’re in a business where you go by a name that’s well-suited to your industry. In that case, you might also want to legally change your name, or you could change it to something you feel is more associated with positive marketability.