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

last name sign


In many cases, when a woman is engaged to a man, people start asking: “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?

A man taking his wife's name is often seen as uncommon. However, it's pretty common for queer couples to take each other's last names. But in many heterosexual relationships, the preference leans towards hyphenating or combining names, as celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay-Z Knowles-Carter and John and Yoko Ono Lennon have done. 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. 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, the process for changing your name is 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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