General Question

seekingwolf's avatar

Can you add a 2nd middle name after marriage?

Asked by seekingwolf (10387points) March 12th, 2012

Not planning on getting married but this is something that I’ve been wondering.

Is possible to change your name to Firstname MiddleName MaidenName (as a 2nd middle name) HisLastName after marriage?

I could see myself doing this because I’d like to change my last name but still retain my maiden because it means a lot to me and my family name is very big in the field I’m going into because many relatives are involved in it. So it means a lot to me to keep it.

I also want to keep my middle name because it goes GREAT with my first name and it’s a relative’s name. So I can’t just drop it.

Just wondering if anyone else has done this. I’m in NY btw (not the city!).

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38 Answers

fundevogel's avatar

You change your name any which way you want when you get married. Personally I might try to convince my marriage partner that we should be “the Strangeways-Piggs” or “Mr. and Mrs. van der Velde”. That would be rad.

CaptainHarley's avatar

You can use as many middle names as you like, or none at all if you like. Only the first and last names have legal validity.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

That’s pretty much what happens. Shelia Renae Smith becomes Shelia Renae Smith Harris. Many women don’t write in their given middle name after marriage but it doesn’t just disappear.

JLeslie's avatar

Sure. A friend of mine named her children with four names. First, middle, her last name, and then his last name. If your maiden name is big in your field, why not just keep your maiden name? Middle names get lost, and hyphenated names, if you are thinking that at all, are a mess, people don’t know how to handle them.

JLeslie's avatar

@MollyMcGuire Legally most women don’t do it that way, they usually drop their middle name, or drop their maiden name.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I agree with @JLeslie about the hyphenated last names—horrible—AVOID that.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Do you think you fill out a piece of paper and say “my legal name now is XXXXXXXXXXXXX.” You never lose your middle or maiden name—it’s on your birth certificate.

JLeslie's avatar

@MollyMcGuire Yes you do. My legal name now is firstname middlename hislastname. My passport and social security card, and license have those three names only, that is now my legal name. I have an AKA of firstname middlename maidenname. If I try to fly under my maiden name I will not be let on the plane.

seekingwolf's avatar


Well, I’d probably use my maiden name in work to have on resumes and whatnot as a middle name, so people will definitely see it in that form and I’m fine with that. As for day to day, it doesn’t matter much outside of that, but I just want to keep it as part of my legal name.

I do not want children but I would want to have the same last name as my future husband. That is just me.

Where would want change a name like this? I don’t think marriage licenses allow you to write out a 2nd middle name. So would SS do it?

Earthgirl's avatar

Just another option for you, since you like your middle name and want to keep your last name, do what I do, I use either or. I use either my maiden name or my married name depending on circumstances. You don’t have to officially change your name if you don’t want to. Yet, you can use your married name as you please. All my credit cards and my passport remain in my maiden name. I use my married name too. It has never been a problem for me. But I don’t have any children.

funkdaddy's avatar

You can change it however you would like…

My mom happened to marry a man who’s last name was the same as her middle name, so she would have been “Mrs. FirstName LastName LastName”... so she just took her maiden name as her middle name.

When I got married I tried to talk my wife into taking a new name and we’d both change to it. She didn’t go for Mr. and Mrs. Funkton for some reason (my actual suggestion), nor Mr. and Mrs. Badassery (the red herring). She already had two middle names (common in Hispanic culture) so she’s stuck with just mine. ~

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Your plane ticket has to have the name on your DL. That doesn’t mean that is your “legal name.” That is Homeland Security rule that has happened since 9–11. There was a time a plane ticket could be used by anyone who had possession of it. Your legal name is any name you choose to go by that is not used fraudulently. You never lose the names on your birth certificate. Even if you petition court to change your name, you will still be traceable by your birth name.

JLeslie's avatar

@seekingwolf I really think you should keep your maiden name, because things are getting trickier in this post 9/11 America with needing to use full names in certain places like airplanes as I mentioned above. You can use your husband’s name socially, introduce yourselves and Mr. and Mrs. X, and just be fine with whatever last name someone addresses you with. When you are with your husband they will assume his name most of time, and if you have children the same thing. In social situations no one is going to be checking your ID.

Also, I don’t think anyone there is a specific amount of time given for you to change to your married name, you just use the marriage certificate and get everything changed. But, once you change it, it is court paperwork to get it changed back in most states. So, maybe don’t do anything right away, give it a few months, and maybe it will become very clear to you what you want to do.

As far as having two middle names, probably you can just list two names. You could also probably have two last names if you prefer. Thing is all of the options are uncommon in America, and you will habe people making mistakes all the time if you don’t do what is atypical. Personally it would not bother me, doesn’t bother me, if someone addresses me incorrectly, so I am not saying it is terrible to be atypical, only warning you.

I use my maiden name when I talk to friends who have not seen me in years, things like that, but otherwise I always use my married name. My husband is Mexican, and there women keep their maiden name and additional add “de married name” they don’t lose their maiden name. But, also, if they use their full name, they are known to be married. In America we try to remove that with the use of Ms.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@MollyMcGuire When you change your name with a marriage or a name change through the court, it is a legal name change. Legally speaking, while you still were the other name prior to the name change, you are not suppose to continue using the previous name on official documents any longer. That is part of the reason why they ask if you are changing your name to escape debts or other things tied to your previous name. Yes, you are still tied to the previous name as in what you did under that name stays with you, but you do not have two names (the previous name and the new name), just the new name. When you make the change, it is suppose to be for everything.

@seekingwolf You can change your name to any arrangement of your partners name and your name that you would like with a marriage.

JLeslie's avatar

@MollyMcGuire I said my AKA is my maiden name, of course I don’t lose it, all names I have been known by legally are attached to my social security number. Name change varies by state. California for instance is fairly lax. The name on my license is my legal name, which is what is on my social security and my passport. If they don’t all agree it can get tricky I would think. These things are checked when signing contracts, and other situations, including flying.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Try this scenario, for a real couple when they got married:

HUSBAND – - His FIRST name, her MAIDEN name, His LAST Name. Dropped His MIDDLE Name.

WIFE—Her FIRST name, her MAIDEN name, His LAST name. Dropped Her MIDDLE name.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

No one has to drop anything when you marry. The woman may add her husband’s last name to her name.

JLeslie's avatar

@MollyMcGuire Of course, everyone so far has agreed with that.

JLeslie's avatar

Gawd, sorry for all the typos in my long post above. Really awful.

fundevogel's avatar

@JLeslie “Also, I don’t think anyone there is a specific amount of time given for you to change to your married name, you just use the marriage certificate and get everything changed. ”

You can legally change you name anytime you want, but it’s more expensive if you don’t do it within the window of time allotted for a name change associated with a marriage. At least it is in California. One of my friends ended up sticking with her birth name because she couldn’t decide what she wanted to switch to before the grace period ended. At least that’s how she justified not being Mrs. Awesomepants to me.
She may have been lying.

JLeslie's avatar

@fundevogel Interesting. So, probably that grace period varies by state.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

You can legally change your name to whatever you’d like it to be.

I know a woman who got married and she and her husband decided to do something unique- they made a combination of both their last names. Say her last name was Turner and his was Brockman. They BOTH legally changed their last names and made them Turnman.

rojo's avatar

My wife did this for a few years, then got tired of writing out the whole thing and just dropped the maiden name. All her choice, I did not mind how she did it as long as it made her happy.

whitenoise's avatar

Any combination of the two family names will do.

Your passport, however, will always show your family name at birth. If you so choose, then you can have a mention of your being a spouse of…. followed by your partners family name.

A couple can choose any of the two family names for their children, but can only choose for their first child. This choice stays true for the subsequent children of the couple, but can be changed within a short term from birth of the first born.

When you are member of the royal family, things are different… there will be a law made that stipulates your name.

JLeslie's avatar

@whitenoise Not in America. In America the passport typically shows the current legal name. My maiden name is not on my passport.

seekingwolf's avatar

@Tropical_Willie I don’t want to drop my middle name so that wouldn’t work, no.

@JLeslie I don’t see how being in a post-9/11 world means it’s more beneficial to not change my name and use different names professionally/socially. That seems more complicated to me. I’d rather have one legal name, and use one last name consistently and COMPLETELY in legal situations, and use middle names/initials when I see fit in other situations that are not official/formal. If I changed my name to having 2 middle names on my SS and my DL, then why would the longer name be a problem in today’s world if I use that full legal name ALWAYS on important legal documents (SS, DL, passport, important bank stuff, taxes, etc)? Then I can’t see a problem.

My names aren’t that long so maybe I’m different from a lot of people.

@whitenoise Here in the US, your passport is always your legal name. Your spouse’s name doesn’t appear on your passport here at all. When you get married and change names, you’re supposed to change your passport too to reflect that name change.

JLeslie's avatar

@seekingwolf Regarding post 9/11, only because of what @rojo said, My wife did this for a few years, then got tired of writing out the whole thing and just dropped the maiden name. Can be a pain in the ass to write it all out, and now there are more requirments to write it all out. Especially if you eventually become known by your married name anyway. My MIL dropped her maiden name when she did her paperwork in America, even though her Mexican passport still is her maiden name, and documents in MX would contain her maiden name. But, her situation is different, as she does not have a career where her maiden name would be recognized. Maybe also because she had screw ups at a bank and other places because her name is confusing for Americans. One instance her last name was recorded as De Lastname, and it took them a long time to figure out what had been done when she needed to find her account years later.

My husband dropped his second last name (his mom’s maiden name) when he did his paperwork in America. I told him to consider making it his middle name, he has no middle name, but he didn’t bother. His dad could have done the same, but didn’t bother. I guess I am just around a lot of people who go the easier route.

However, you make a good point that having all names will make it easier in some situations. Still having your maiden name on legal documents will possibly help when something is still done in your maiden name, maybe you won’t be required to also show a marriage certificate or some other document like I would, since I dropped my maiden name? I have never had to do that, but I have a friend who had to do twice in her 20 years of marriage, but for the opposite problem. She never took her husband’s name and had to dig out her kids birth certificate because her name did not match for some sort of insurance, and I don’t know anyone else who has to supply such a thing. Another time her marriage certificate for something related to her husband and being a dependent. She had to go get a new one, because she had no idea where her marriage certificate was, or if it even was still in her house somewhere.

You say your last names are short, so maybe it isn’t a big deal. My last names are 7 and 8 letters. Not crazy long, but not short either. My first name is 8, my middle name is 6. If I write out all 4 names it is long. American forms barely have enough space already with my biggish handwriting. Oh, and about forms, maybe two last names might be better? A lot of forms ask for M.L., middle initial. If you have two middle names what do you put there? But, also, if you have two last names, if your maiden is first, that is how you are filed. So if it begins with a D, and your husband’s surname begins with a T, you are in the D line. Usually. Depending on who is lining you up. It would be good to speak to a few people who use two last names and see what they do.

seekingwolf's avatar

I didn’t know you could have two last names. I thought it was always had to be hyphenated. At least, that’s what I know about the laws in my state. I don’t even think they let you have 2 last names here unless there’s a hyphen. I think I’d rather just have the maiden as the middle, only one last name so when I was signing non-important/legal docs, I’d only have to write down one last name. I think that sounds easier.

I guess it helps that I don’t want/can’t have children, now or in the future, so I don’t have to worry about naming issues in the future when/if I marry.

If you have a “Middle Initial” field on a document, I’d probably just pick an initial and go with it. Although I’ve had to fill out a lot of legal stuff before (for DMV, passports, etc) and they always have a space for middle name, so you could write it out.

My middle and maiden names are quite short though. That definitely influences my choice I bet. “Longest” part of my name is my first name, which is 9 letters. All the rest are short, thank goodness. I already have my middle initial as part of my signature.

JLeslie's avatar

@seekingwolf I’m not sure the rules on two last names? Might vary by state. I had always used my middle initial in my signature, so when I changed to my married name, ther was just that one change, the middle initial stayed the same. I also kept my middle name because my mom wanted it to be my first name, but she didn’t get her way, and she didn’t get her first choice with my sister either. I figured with my children my maiden name would be lost anyway. But, I completely understand wanting to hang onto your maiden name, and sometimes I question my decision regarding dropping it.

My SIL did it the American way and took her husband’s name when they moved here, it is also the Italian way, and her husband was Italian, and she always disliked that she gave up her name. When she divorced she really wanted to go back to her maiden, and people, talked her out of it, including her lawyer advised her to keep her married name. I was one of the people who said she should keep her married name, and I regret it, because it was so important to her. I just made one comment when she asked me about it, I was within the voice of many, but I wish I had supported her. When she married her second husband, I was shocked she took his name. When I asked her about it, she made a face, and said it was important to him. Now they are separated.

JLeslie's avatar

This is interesting:

It is not uncommon for women, especially in the U.S. and Canada, to combine their spouse’s name with their own birth name.[2] (It is increasingly common for men in those countries to do so; although still a rarity, an example can be found as far back as 1901 with Frederick and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, who worked for women’s suffrage). Which name is placed first reflects personal preference. For example, if “Hannah Kelly Watson” marries “Michael Errick”, she might become “Hannah Kelly Watson-Errick” or “Hannah Kelly Errick-Watson”. Sometimes both spouses will adopt the joint surname. A hyphenated name would be ordered (in a phonebook or catalog, for instance) under the first letter of whichever name had been placed first.

In some cases, the combined last name is not hyphenated; however both names are considered to be part of the last name (as opposed to either one being a middle name). In the above example, she might become “Hannah Kelly Watson Errick”, where “Watson Errick” is the last name, and “Kelly” is the only middle name.

That is from Wikipedia. You might want to read the whole section titled English-Speaking World.

whitenoise's avatar

@JLeslie @seekingwolf

I know that things are different in the US. Just wanted to react from a Dutch point of view.

Guess I must admit that I left that out intentionally, since this question didn’t include asking for the US situation. The world is bigger than the US, although I feel some people on fluther frequently seem to forget that.

seekingwolf's avatar


I mentioned in my question explanation that I live in NY, which would indicate that I’m in the US, as well as my specific state. So I did indicate that I was looking for US and/or NY specific answers. I do ask questions from time to time in forums where there are people from all around the world, so I always add in my location.

JLeslie's avatar

@whitenoise I always find it interesting to know how other countries do things, you just had not mentioned what country you are from, so the answer looks like you are answering for America. I know you are Dutch, but others on the Q might not have. You did mention royalty, so I guess that let’s other jellies know you are outside of the US. I agree a lot of jellies assume US when they create questions and answers, but this time we were informed it was US.

whitenoise's avatar

@seekingwolf @JLeslie
I should have read the whole q. True. I was however also very happy to share my Dutch world.

Sorry @seekingwolf . I could have known better. :-)

Brittm21's avatar

I have a question for all the women who are married!? Me and my soon to be husband are fixing to get married and I was wondering I have two middle names and one of them I hate! Can I keep my first name and one of my middle names and my maiden name and his last name and drop one of the middle names? And will they ask me once we get married or is there stuff you have to do to do your name change like that?

JLeslie's avatar

@Brittm21 When you get married you have the opportunity to drop your middle name with no problem. When you take your marriage license to Social Security you just tell them exactly what you want and you’re all set.

Brittm21's avatar

@JLeslie so do I sign my marriage license the way I want my name?

JLeslie's avatar

@Brittm21 It might vary by state, but for me I signed my marriage license with my current legal name as it is written on the marriage license. It basically is a legal contract, and legally you are still your maiden and given names. The person conducting your marriage will know for sure what you should sign to make it legal. Then I took the marriage license and whatever else necessary to Social Security to get my new card. I think you can now do the application online, but I am not sure. Once you have your SS card you can start changing everything else. Driver’s license, passport, credit cards, etc. Note that DMV’s require multiple forms of ID now, so when you go to change your driver’s license be sure to check the website for what is required. Bring as many ID as possible and your marriage license. It must be an original copy of the marriage license.

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