MyName MyMaidenName HusbandsName

About three years ago, I got married and changed my name. The way I did it was:

From - Aspidistra MiddleName MaidenName
To - Aspidistra MaidenName HusbandsName.

It’s not a name-change pattern that I’ve seen anyone use in this country, but I’ve seen it a lot used by well-known Americans - eg.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Mary Baker Eddy
Robin Wright Penn
Ursula Kroeber LeGuin

…and so on.

Now I’m trying to persuade the passport office (who have already proven to me over the past week that they are an evil nitpicking rule-bound organization from Hell who will do everything in their power to thwart me) that they should let me have this name on my passport.

In aid of helping me gather ammunition for my assault on the Bastions of Bureaucracy, I’d like to find out…

[li]How common is this formulation amoung women in the US. Am I doing it right? Or should the full version be “Aspidistra MiddleName MaidenName HusbandsSurname”?[/li][li]Is it supported by the bureaucracy in the US? Can women use this format on official documents over there, or is it a purely informal one used by women who were already well-known before getting married?[/li][li]Anyone outside the US done this? Especially in Oz.[/li][li]Who are some more famous three-name women whose existance I can beat the passport office over the head with (so to speak…)?[/li][/ul]

  1. Fairly common, but by no means universal, in the US. My mother used that form before my parents were divorced.

  2. In the US, via common law, you can use any name you like, as long as it is not for fraudulant purposes. Each state has laws regarding official procedures for changing your name, though it’s usually not necessary unless you need proof of who you are (or used to be.)

My wife did this last year, it was a simple matter of telling the clerk what she wanted when we got her new drivers license. We showed the marriage certificate, and it was done. Of course, this is Florida, and the clerk may not have known the law from a large gaping hole in the ground.

I’d go beyond “fairly common” in the U.S., and state that the pattern of “firstname maidenname husband’sname” is used by the vast majority of married women in the U.S., and is accepted without question by the bureaucracy (driver’s licenses, passports, tax returns, etc.). In fact, trying to do anything else, like adopting a hyphenated last name (maidenname-husband’sname), is more likely to cause a problem.

More and more women are simply sticking with their maiden names when they get married, but a woman who takes her husband’s last name almost always uses her maiden name as her new middle name. When she does so, her original middle name (if she had one) generally vanishes.

Thanks guys. (and while I’m here, friedo I forgot to say in the other thread that “that’s what the guns are for” was highly amusing :D)

Now I just need to know about points 3 and 4…

Agree that this pattern is extremely common in the US. The only problem I had adopting it was on my Colorado driver’s license. The problem: I did not go by my first name but have always used my middle name. (Always. Never called by first name, ever.) In other states where I have been licensed to drive, I’ve been permitted to use F. Middlename Lastname, but Colorado insisted I couldn’t abbreviate my FIRST name but only the middle one. So I made them spell them ALL out. When I got married I thought, aha, now I can have Middlename L. Marriedname, but no. So all four of 'em are on there and spelled out. (Whenever I am called by my first name, which is Carol, I know I’m about to get a ticket.)

Other people in Colo. have, however, not had this problem. And everything else was a breeze including Social Security and passport (on both of which I am Middlename L Marriedname.

Don’t know about point 3, but isn’t Hilary Rodham Clinton famous enough?

Do you really think you’ll get anywhere using the argument that it’s common in the US? I’d expect you could prove your point until the cows come home and they’d still be obdurate blockheads on the subject.

What I would wonder is the legality of changing your name in this fashion in Australia when you marry. Unless you got married in the US in which case maybe, just maybe, you’d get somewhere with that argument.

How much does a deed poll cost? We’ve got similar issues with Mr P using one name while having another name by deed poll and still having some old documents in his original name. The NZ passport people got around it by using Mr P AKA Mr Something Completely Different.

Well, if it’s your legal name I’d think they’d have to let you put it on your passport, license, checks, etc. If it’s just the name you go by, that’s a little different.

As for the proper way to do it, there is no such thing. In the States, you can legally change your name to anything you wish at any time you wish for any reason. I could go down tomorrow and start the paperwork to have my name legally changed to Kobe Bryant Jingleheimer-Schmidt if I wanted to. Rather a lot of women use the formulation you’ve chosen, but it’s also common for women to choose firstname middlename hislast, to keep the middle name and hyphenate the last names, or to just not bother with the whole mess. They’re all equally valid, since your proper name is whatever you decide it is.

Frankly, if this is your legal name, I’d think you’d have better luck pounding that drum than the “everyone in America does it that way” one.

My mother’s was first - maiden - husband. She’s told me that’s the norm here in the U.S.

yeah, points one and two are just the warmups. Three and Four are the biggies. I’m sorta hoping that some statesian who lives here in Oz may come out of the woodwork and say they’ve already had this argument (and won)

I have a problem with the deed poll thing … and I know that it’s me being picky and anal now, but when they do the paperwork for that they don’t actually hand you a certificate saying “Aspidistra Blah Blah is now known as So-and-so” they * cancel your birth certificate and re-issue it in your new name*. I just hate that idea - to me it’s like repudiating my birth family. I don’t want to pretend that I was always called MyNewName - I want official acknowledgement that I changed it at marriage.

I’m sure that there used to be a clause on the passport form allowing you to state “I have used this name for X number of years” and you got someone who’d known you for that long to swear to it, and that was that. But it ain’t there now.

I expect what I’ll probably end up doing is getting the old passport re-issued in my maiden name, and then whackin’ them over the head for the next ten years until either they agree with me or I go crazy.

My wife did this when we were married. Haven’t had any problems with it, but also haven’t applied for a passport.

I think it’s slightly more common for a woman to just drop her maiden name altogether, keeping her original first and middle names.

You mean this whole thing is just because you prefer not to show your reissued birth certificate to the passport office? Just show it and get it over with. You won’t win if you just go over there and start arguing with them.

Most government and other forms provide for firstname, middle initial, lastname. The problem referenced in the OP may not have been specific to the maiden name vs. a middle name, but that they couldn’t spell out either one.

On an unrelated note, you were in for holy hell if you EVER addressed a letter to my grandmother as anything other than “Mrs. HusbandsFirstName-HusbandsLastName”. In her world, only divorcees used their first name with the Mrs title.

Actually, I think it’s more an issue of her not having a reissued birth certificate. She doesn’t like the idea of having her original birth certificate with her birth name nullified, so she’s never gone through all that. It seems to be less a problem of them being obdurate blockheads and more a problem of her trying to get a legal document issued in something other than her legal name.

I’ve never applied for a passport, but I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t issue me one in DrJ’s last name unless I’d already legally changed my name with the social security administration. Going to the office and jumping up and down screaming, “But I’ve been using that name for three years!” generally won’t cut it if you don’t have legal documents to back it up. Some states will let you change the name on your drivers license without seeing proof of name change, but the federal government is a bit more stringent about stuff like that.


I like it. OK if we call you that now?

Well, that would be my legal name. Socially, I’d still be using my old name. You can address all business correspondence to the new name, though.

I started a thread on this topic after I married. I went with First Maiden Married.


When I was married in the ‘60’s, I dropped my middle name and went to first, maiden. husband name. Did not have Birthday Certificate changed, just notified the Social Security office of marriage and name change. I have a passport and never had any problem. This pattern may be more common in the southern states.

Basketball player and coach Suzie McConnell Serio has explained more than once that she did not hyphenate her maiden name (McConnell) and husband’s surname (Serio). Instead, she’s “Mrs. Serio” to her children’s friends, but keeps “McConnell” as part of her professional identity not only because it was her surname when she attended Penn State and made her Olympic debut, but because several of her McConnell relatives are also coaches.