After We're Married, Can My Husband Take My Last Name?

last name sign


As soon as you get engaged, many brides start hearing this question: “So, are you changing your name?” And while taking your husband’s name is traditional, it’s not the only option! You can keep your maiden name, hyphenate or come up with a new name that combines both of your last names. But what about your husband taking your last name instead?

While a man taking his wife’s name is uncommon, it’s not unheard of. Hyphenating or combining names is the more common option, and celebrities from Beyoncé and Jay-Z Knowles-Carter to John and Yoko Ono Lennon have chosen to simply use both of their last names. Even Antonio Villaraigosa, former mayor of Los Angeles, has a combined name: His last name used to be Villar, his ex-wife’s last name was Raigosa, and though they’re divorced, they both continue to use the combined name they created. And while they’re no longer married, Jack White got his last name (and the inspiration for the band’s name) from his ex-wife and former White Stripes bandmate Meg White.

It’s worth noting that, while the name change process for women is relatively similar from state to state, the process for men varies drastically.

In some states, it’s the same: From Social Security to the DMV, you’ll have to fill out the same forms, provide the same proof, and wait in the same lines. But in others, it’s a more complicated process that requires a court appearance and even more bureaucracy. That’s because, depending on the state, your husband’s name change may not be considered part of the marriage process, but instead is seen as a legal name change where a marriage license isn’t enough. So before you head to the Social Security office, make sure to do your research. Find out exactly what goes into the name change process for a man in your state, and arm yourselves with the necessary paperwork and proof.

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