Category: Name Changes

Do You Have to Take or Keep Your Spouse’s Name?

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Name Changes on Monday, December 28, 2015.

What’s in a name? A lot. Last week the Supreme Court of Japan upheld the constitutionality of a law requiring married couples to use the same last name after marriage. What about after divorce?

A statute requiring Japanese spouses to choose which single family name – the husband’s or the wife’s – to adopt in legally registering their marriage. The family law dates from the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

96% of couples in Japan choose the Husband’s last name

The plaintiffs argued this amounts to gender discrimination because being forced to choose a single surname infringes on personal dignity and the freedom to marry.

Presiding Justice Itsuro Terada said sharing a single family name is a system “deeply rooted in our society” and is meaningful in that it “enables people to identify themselves as part of a family in the eyes of others.”

Although admitting that being pressured to forfeit a maiden name often works to women’s disadvantage professionally, Terada said such hardships can be mitigated, since women are free to use their maiden names in daily life.

Noting that the law gives couples the freedom to decide which surname to adopt, Terada said it is not discriminatory in itself.

Florida is different.

Just because you’ve married, and decided to change your name, doesn’t mean you’ve officially changed your name, or have to by law.

Before you can change your name after you’re married, you’ll need the original (or certified copy) marriage license with the raised seal and your new last name on it.

In order to change your name after you marry, you will then need to update your name with the Social Security Administration first, and then with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Changing your name after a dissolution of your marriage is a little different.

Rather than a marriage license, after a divorce you’ll need a certified copy of your divorce final judgment. Make sure it includes a provision that grants your name change.

If it does, this document will serve as your legal proof of name change. If it is missing, you may need to amend your final judgment or possibly file a petition for a change in your name.

Like a marriage license, your divorce decree lets you change your name, but you will need to notify SSA and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The Japan Times article is here.

Changing Your Child’s Name

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Name Changes on Thursday, August 15, 2013.

In divorce it is very common to change names. Changing an adult’s name is easy. But, changing the name of a child is a whole different ballgame.

Courts are not as free to change a child’s name as they are an adult’s name. A judge will only change a child’s name when the change is required for the welfare of the child.

Consider this odd case out of Tennessee – courtesy of the Volokh Conspiracy – in which a judge didn’t like the name “Messiah” for a child:

The parents came before the court because of a dispute over what the child’s last name should be, but the judge changed the child’s first name as well, giving two reasons:

“The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” Judge Ballew said….

According to Judge Ballew, it is the first time she has ordered a first name change. She said the decision is best for the child, especially while growing up in a county with a large Christian population.

“It could put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is,” Judge Ballew said.

In Florida, changing the name of a minor is serious business, and you can only do it if the change is required for the welfare of the child.

If you fail to show evidence that the name change would be in the best interest of the child, your name change will be denied.

There is a Florida statute with a few rules:

Mother not married at the time of birth – The parent who will have custody of the child shall select the child’s given name and surname.

Mother married at the time of birth – The mother and father on the birth certificate select the given name and surname of the child if both parents have custody of the child, otherwise the parent who has custody shall select the child’s name.

Parents disagree on the surname -The surname selected by the father and the surname selected by the mother shall both be entered on the birth certificate, separated by a hyphen in alphabetical order.

Parents disagree on the given name – The given name may not be entered on the certificate until a joint agreement signed by both parents or selected by a court.

Back to the Tennessee case, it seems to me that people I know named Jesus don’t have social problems because of their names. Is Messiah that much different from Jesus that the Messiahs of the world are going to suffer more?