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Laws of Eve: Should I change my name after marriage?

Published:Monday | June 8, 2015 | 6:00 AM

After the honeymoon and it was time to return to work, I asked myself - "What name should I use?" Should I remain 'Sherry Ann McGregor', become 'Sherry Ann Tai' or make the already long name even longer and become 'Sherry Ann McGregor Tai'? Should that new name be hyphenated or not?

Is there a rule governing what I should do?

All of those questions became less difficult when my husband said, "I am fine with whatever you choose." For me, the thought of the hassle involved in going to the bank, the tax office, the passport office, titles office and General Legal Council and printing new business cards to effect the changes was enough for me to choose the easy route - I retained my maiden name.

Recently, I found information that confirmed that the married women who retain their maiden names are in the minority. Here are some of the reasons :

1 It is the traditional approach to marriage and is a true representation of the biblical perspective that the man is the head of the household.

2 What will the children say when they are old enough to understand that their mother's surname is different from their own? What will they think their family name is?

3 When a woman continues to use her maiden name in business there will likely be misunderstandings, with people asking what name to call her.

4 It could cause discontent among the in-laws who may interpret the decision not to assume the husband's name as a reluctance to integrate into the family.

5 Despite an overt willingness to leave the decision to his wife, sometimes a husband may secretly want his wife to assume his name as a clear sign of unity.

6 The changes on official documents do not all have to be made at the same time. The transition to the use of the new name can be made as and when each document expires.

7 Even if a woman's maiden name is an established professional name, people will eventually become accustomed to the new name if she decides to assume her husband's name or a combination of her name and his.

There is no right or wrong answer to the question, and there is no rule or law that dictates what should happen. In this case, tradition and personal preferences determine the issue.

Ultimately, each couple should discuss the importance of a name change to them. They may even decide that the man should be the one to change his name. In that case, however, perhaps the person who will be expected to make the adjustment should make the final decision.

• Sherry Ann McGregor is a partner and mediator in the firm of Nunes, Scholefield, DeLeon & Co. Please send questions and comments to lawsofeve@gmail.com.