I repeatedly come across clients who have gone to a lot of time, trouble, and expense to do a legal name change, in order to go back to their maiden name.
Stop right there. I’m going to save you some money and hassle.
If you were, or still are, legally married to someone, you do NOT need to take any legal action whatsoever to go back to your maiden name, or indeed, any previous married name.
(That is, unless you did a legal name change in the past. If you did that, this article probably isn’t for you. Phone me instead.)
Here are some things you don’t need:
- To start a court action for a legal name change;
- To use that part of the standard BC divorce paperwork that asks you if you want to change your name. That’s not for you. That’s for people who want to change their name to something entirely different to their married and to their maiden names. Like if you wanted to change your name to Fuzzy Dingo or Rock Star, or possibly something less flippant; or
- Anyone else’s permission. It’s your name (if you want it). It didn’t automatically stop being your name when you got married and started using another one.
You can use your maiden name whenever you want. You can use it at the same time as you use your married name. You can use your maiden name, your married name and even a previous married name, if that’s what you want.
It’s as easy to go back to your maiden name as it was to start using your married name. Remember how you went to the ICBC office with a copy of your marriage certificate, and then they gave you identification in your married name? Yep. Just take your birth certificate into the ICBC office, and get them to issue you your identification cards in your maiden name.
This applies to all legally married (past or present) people, whether men, women, non-binary, trans, genderqueer, and however you identify.
I work with lots of members of the queer community, and I find there’s quite a bit of misconception among us with respect to marriage and divorce. The great news is that, for once, the same rules apply to everyone:
- Just like heterosexual couples, you are entitled to use your partner’s last name after you get married, right away, and no matter if you’re male, female, non-binary, transgender or genderqueer or anything else;
- You do NOT need a legal name change to start using your partner’s last name, provided you did get legally married to them;
- You can get new identification issued to you in your married name as soon as you’re married; and
- As per the above, if you don’t want to use your married name anymore, whether or not you’ve separated from or are still with your partner, you can just go back to using your maiden name anytime you want.
Any questions, give me a call. Otherwise: you’re welcome!
note: this blog isn’t legal advice. Don’t ever take legal advice from a blog: phone a lawyer and get actual legal advice. The law and practice around this topic might change after the post is published.
Jo McFetridge is a lawyer in Victoria, B.C., regularly practicing family law.