By Gianna Huesch
Are you thinking about changing your name? These days there are many options for women in relation to deciding which surname to use after marrying. Because adults can assume any surname they like under the law (with certain exceptions), you can either: retain your maiden name, take on your husband’s last name, hyphenate your last names, double barrel your names, turn your maiden name into a new middle name and take on your husband’s surname as yours, make up a new last name that is a combination of your maiden name and married name, or even make up a totally new name.
You can start using your new name whenever you like, and you don’t actually have to change your name on any documentation if you don’t want to. This is called “name by association” and is perfectly legal. Many women use their married name in social circles, but keep their maiden name on their official identification documentation. Legally, there are no obligations on women to change their surname formally if they retain their maiden name.
As a professional, your name is often a significant and valuable asset, and nowadays many women wish to keep their maiden name so that it remains searchable on social media networks and search engines. As such, they may maintain their maiden name for professional reasons while identifying using their married name “by association”.
If you identify under multiple surnames, it’s a good idea to pick which name you will be recording on legal documents and stick to that. Signing the ‘incorrect’ name probably won’t cause legal hassles, but it may become an inconvenience at times, for example when government agencies are reluctant to accept inconsistent documentation.
If you are taking your husband’s name it’s a very simple process. A Marriage Certificate issued by your state or territory’s Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages is sufficient evidence that you have married and you do not need to go through any application process to change your name. This will not change your name on your birth certificate / birth record, but it will allow you to legally change your name on all of your identification documents. You can start officially changing your name as soon as you are married and have your Marriage Certificate.
If you are changing your name after divorce, you will need your Marriage Certificate as proof of the link between your maiden name and married name so that you can revert back to maiden name without making an application. Some institutions will require evidence of your divorce so your Certificate of Divorce will be necessary.
You can buy kits online that make the whole process of changing your name easy, for example, see https://www.easynamechange.com/au/name-change-kits/onepage/#government and http://www.afterthewedding.com.au/namechangekit.html
Are you getting married and require legal advice in relation to a family law matter, for example drafting a Binding Financial Agreement? Please contact Cristina Huesch or one of our solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400 for assistance.