Keeping hers or taking his surname?

What should a woman do when she marries? Should she takes his surname or keep her surname? When girls are growing up, they see what they have to look forward to- the abandonment of their identity into the identity of another.

Most women don't think twice about it. But for some it becomes a personal struggle, especially career-oriented professionals who have worked hard to establish themselves and whose names are respected and widely recognized in their fields. Like the brand names of consumer goods, women elected to keep their surnames to protect the value of their contacts, publications and professional goodwill. A greater number of women might also have kept their surnames as a means of preserving their personal identity.

Harvard studies show that 52 percent of women keep their names upon marriage. However a woman who keeps her name at marriage may not retain her name throughout her married life. The arrival of children, for example, might lead her to change her name to avoid the possible confusion of having two last names in one household.

Contrary Harvard studies further reveal that other factors such as legal, social and economic changes have led more women to keep their surnames at marriage.

Under common law, a married woman is not compelled to take her husband's surname, yet the laws of various countries have deprived women of rights, such as retaining their driver's license and voter registration, if they did not assume the surname of their husband. More women found themselves in a situation where they had already "made a name" for themselves in a profession, business or among friends and colleagues before marriage. Perhaps the solution lies in the couple to come up with a surname. If the woman decides to take both names or to take a new name, then she should consider some following things to do:

Writing to various institutions to change her name on, for example, her driver's license, vehicle title, voter registration, passport, bank records, credit cards, medical records, insurance forms, wills etc. To make the process less awkward, "bride name change kits" tailored for each state are sold on the Internet.


Page Updated: 01 July 2015