Advice About Keeping Your Professional Name? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 23 Old 07-13-2011, 10:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all. I am in the throes of figuring out what my baby's last name should be when he is born this fall, and one of the options I'm considering is changing my legal name so it can be the same as the baby's. My partner is considering the same thing, and we haven't decided which if either of us will make a change, but we think it might be important to have legal names that are the same as our baby, so that we never find ourselves shut out of seeing him at the emergency room or some other bureaucratic nightmare.

 

What I'm wondering is, if one or both of us changes our legal name to match the baby, how hard would it be to keep using our birth names professionally?  For example, I would put my professional name on my resume, but then when I start my new job, I would whip out my ID & Social Security card for the I-9 and it would say a different legal name. Is that a problem with employers? Do they still usually honor your decision to use a professional name separate from legal name?

 

And what about when I go back to grad school (something I hope to do next year)--I assume I would apply under my legal name, but if I want to use my professional name to register for classes, so the professor calls me by it, is that difficult to arrange?

 

Can you put your professional name on a credit card, or does it always have to be your legal name?

 

I would welcome any advice or experiences that you all can share about keeping a professional name distinct from your legal one!

 

 

 

 


First baby due Oct/Nov 2011. Slowly finding my way...

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#2 of 23 Old 07-14-2011, 08:33 AM
 
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I am not sure about all of the questions you asked, but I do think if you travel by air, it's challenging to maintain two different names.  I am married but kept my maiden name.  My son has my husband's last name.  My son has been to the emergency room and has had other medical issues requiring specialty care and we have certainly never had any issues with different names. 

 

I think maintaining two different names sounds pretty complicated, although others with experience may weigh in.  There are certainly times when I think about changing my name just to make things easier and to have a family name, and I may still do so. 


 

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#3 of 23 Old 07-14-2011, 01:33 PM
 
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I did not change my name, I have 4 kids and never have had any problems. I do fly with the birth certificates esp. internationally. However, I have never used the certificates.

 

I found that keeping my name was much simpler than changing it. I have never had any issues at the hospital or at schools


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#4 of 23 Old 07-14-2011, 03:26 PM
 
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I am no expert but my assumption is that individuals who use a different last name for social purposes still keep their professional and legal name one and the same. I'm not sure that one could do it otherwise. Or if you could, sounds like an incredible hassle.

 

I also agree that I wouldn't worry about having different last names as a practical matter though. My husband and I both kept our birth names and our children legally have both names. (My parents did the same as well and that seemed to work ok.) So I don't have any personal experience with having a totally different last name from my children but certainly, no one ever questioned my relationship with my husband when he was admitted to the emergency room (twice now!). And my parents have never had any trouble either.

 

So I wouldn't change my name for that reason alone. I would be worried you would be setting yourself up with far great bureaucratic nightmares by trying to maintain double identities.

 


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#5 of 23 Old 07-14-2011, 03:38 PM
 
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Based on my experience as a student, professional, and mother as well as the experiences of most people I know and work with:

 

Choose a name and use it. If you want to change your name, great. If you want to add a name or hyphenate great. If you don't want to change anything, great. Just choose one name to use and stick with it. The annoyance, confusion, and stress come from trying to juggle mutliple names, only one of which is your legal identity.

 

I changed my name because I had a horrible rhymes-with sort of name that I was teased constantly with. I was delighted to change it to pretty much anything. I've never had any problem with identity. 

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#6 of 23 Old 07-14-2011, 04:15 PM
 
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I did not change my name.   My kids have my husband's last name.   

 

I have never had an issue with having a different last name from my kids.   They have taken it completely in stride.   As they've gotten older we've talked a bit about why we chose to give them their father's last name rather than mine, and how naming traditions differ around the world.

 

It probably helps, though, that we're in a university town, and between women who didn't change their name for professional reasons, people who didn't change their name for political reasons, and international students/faculty from cultures where women do not change their names at all -- I'd guess that at least half their friends are in the same situation as they are, with parents with different last names and often mothers with different last names than kids.  School is used to it, their friends are used to it, all the medical practices around here are used to it...  


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#7 of 23 Old 07-14-2011, 09:33 PM
 
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I have my name, DH has his, and the kids have both of ours. We didn't start it off this way when we had children, we actually legally changed the older two children's names a few years back to add my name. It never has been a big issue, the only thing that does happen is misaddressed school forms home, or places/people dropping off one of the kids last names, things like that. Oddly enough, my children are the only ones in their entire school that has two last names, and we still run into places that have no idea how to put it into their system, like dentists, etc...

 

I do know two women that use different last names for different purposes, like what you are talking about. Both legally have both last names, they just drop one at their will depending on the environment. 


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#8 of 23 Old 07-14-2011, 09:41 PM
 
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HUGE numbers of children do not have the same last name as one or sometimes even both parents.  With all the out of wedlock births, divorce, remarriages, etc, the nuclear family all with the same last name is a pretty rare thing.  I think you should choose the single name you want, and then use it.  But don't factor in whether or not it will be the same name as your children......i mean, how many women out there are divorced and remarried and their children have their fathers last name, and the wife has her new husbands last name?  How many unmarried moms have their last name, but the children got the fathers last name?   It's not at all unusual these days. 


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#9 of 23 Old 07-14-2011, 09:49 PM
 
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My mom kept her maiden name and my sister and I had our dad's last name. I don't think she ever experienced any problems with not having the same name as us. I'd stick legally with the name you want to use and not worry too much about having the same last name as the kid, if bureaucratic snafus are your main concern. Like the PP said, lots of kids don't have the same last name as a parent.


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#10 of 23 Old 07-15-2011, 06:16 AM
 
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My legal name is hyphenated but I tend to just use one part of the name in informal situations.  That might be an option for you if you want to share a legal name with your child; then at least you would not be using two completely separate identities.


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#11 of 23 Old 07-15-2011, 12:05 PM
 
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Are you a same-sex or an opposite-sex couple? I have a different professional/legal name last name from my husband, and my son has his dad's last name and we never have had any problems with more than one name in our family, BUT we are an opposite-sex married couple. So we deal with less hassle. People don't question that we are a "real" family the way they sometimes do with SS couples.

 

Could you both hyphenate? So if you are Smith and your partner is Jones, could you all three go by Smith-Jones? That way there is a connection to your previous professional name, but you get the advantage of all having the same last name.

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#12 of 23 Old 07-15-2011, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for answers and suggestions.

 

Anna Phor, we're a male-female unmarried couple, planning to remain that way, and we're considering giving the child a name that is unique to him, not either of ours. It's important to us that one partner not give up her birth name for the other partner's, and at this time neither of us really wants to change the name we are known by professionally and among friends. We will either keep our names unchanged or else change them to match the baby's new name for our legal documents but keep our birth names for our regular lives. Hyphenating is on the table for the baby's name, but it would result in a 5-syllable, 17-character name, and I am not sure that's preferable to giving the baby his own unique surname, so I wanted to explore our options.


First baby due Oct/Nov 2011. Slowly finding my way...

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#13 of 23 Old 07-15-2011, 08:16 PM
 
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Hi nmouse!  Another vote for choosing one name and sticking with it for both professional and personal purposes.  DH and I have different names and DD has DH's last name, but it has never been a problem...medically, socially...professionally...other.  I agree with the above PPs that differing last names are so common that no one blinks an eye.  I'm on DH's insurance plan as a family member but I never sign in as "Mrs. DH's last name."  Hospitals and other agencies don't really care as long as they can later verify papers for payment purposes only.  

 

Honestly, the name issue is so common that people actually apologize (with real sincerity) when they call DD by my last name.  Goes to show that our society has changed in huge ways!


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#14 of 23 Old 07-17-2011, 01:46 PM
 
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I think it's easier to keep your professional name (legally) than to change your name legally and go by another. 98% of the world knows me by my last name. A few people call me Lynn + dh's lastname. Usually these are people who don't know me well, but they do know dh and the kids (who all have the same last name). If they're going to know me for a while, I point out that my last name is different. If I'm never going to see them again, I don't bother.

 

It's much easier to go by a name different from your own socially than professionally, IMO.

 

If you'd like to give your child(ren) a that's a combo, you could consider shortening both and creating a new name. We didn't hyphenate for the same reason you don't want to -- a 5 syllable, 17 character name is a pain (especially since no one can pronounce either of our names upon first reading it). It was important to dh that the kids have his name, and I didn't care, so they got his. But if your last name is, for example, Polar Bear, and your partner's is Elephant, you could combine them into something like Bearephant or Elebear -- which honors both but doesn't require so many syllables.

 

Another option is to give the child one last name and use the other as a middle name (not hyphenating).

 

ETA: I've never had a problem having a different last name than my kids. Never for travel, bank accounts, library accounts, etc. NONE of my professional colleagues in my department have changed their last name upon getting married (male or female). NONE. So, for us, having a different last name from your partner is normal. I have to say that I like  that it's normal not to change your last name. It means that no one is giving up their identity, and I think it makes things a bit more equal for same -sex and opposite-sex couples. No one sticks out because of names.


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#15 of 23 Old 07-19-2011, 10:03 AM
 
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Like a lot of moms here, I've kept my own name.  My mom kept hers and my grandmother kept hers as well.

 

It's easier to keep one legal name.  If you want, you can gift your children your surname by giving it to them as a middle name or as a second unhyphenated surname - that is commonly done in some cultures.

 

I've never had anyone question, doubt or cause problems for me as a child, nor as an adult with children by having a different surname than my dh.  I do know of some people who use their married Mrs. name in their personal lives, but it's not on any official paperwork.

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#16 of 23 Old 07-19-2011, 10:34 AM
 
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Another mom who kept her name, gave kids DHs name and have never, ever had an issue with travel, medical, or anything else. I do agree that it's more commom than you think.

 

In our case, we were agreed that we didn't want a hyphen. Hard to deal with in systems and then I didn't know what a daughter would do if SHE got married and wanted to hyphenate again. That to us seemed like a bigger issue than any medical or legal stuff we might encounter. We both work in systems and have trouble figuring out the hyphens. I know some women with one name professionally and another legally. It works for them, but expect some bumps in the road. My boss had her luggage lost travelling on the corporate jet when it had her legal name on it, but she travelled under a professional name. But again, not a big deal. I also know a couple who changed both of their last names to a completely new name. But they USED that new name everywhere. They didn't keep their old names. I honestly think it's more difficult to change your legal name but then not use it, or use something different. If you don't want to use the new name, then don't change it. Trust us when we say you'll run into many more issues that way than you ever will by having a different last name than your kid.


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#17 of 23 Old 07-19-2011, 06:05 PM
 
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You could consider hyphenating your last name + new last name and then just go by whichever you want depending upon the situation without having to deal with it being totally different than your legal name.  I know a few people who legally have hyphenated last names but only commonly go by one name. 


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#18 of 23 Old 07-19-2011, 06:10 PM
 
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If your only concern is having the 'same' last name as the baby, you could go with "YourLastName- Partner'sLastName" as the baby's last name, and neither of you would have to legally change your names.

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#19 of 23 Old 07-20-2011, 01:44 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nmouse View Post

Thanks everyone for answers and suggestions.

Anna Phor, we're a male-female unmarried couple, planning to remain that way, and we're considering giving the child a name that is unique to him, not either of ours. It's important to us that one partner not give up her birth name for the other partner's, and at this time neither of us really wants to change the name we are known by professionally and among friends. We will either keep our names unchanged or else change them to match the baby's new name for our legal documents but keep our birth names for our regular lives. Hyphenating is on the table for the baby's name, but it would result in a 5-syllable, 17-character name, and I am not sure that's preferable to giving the baby his own unique surname, so I wanted to explore our options.


I kept my maiden name and gave ds my name as a middle name and dh's last name. We are planning to live outside the country (US) for a number of years and decided that internationally it would be preferable to all have the same last name situation.

We both (dh and I) were going to change our names to reflect ds's, and then discovered how PRICEY a legal name change can be! Just to change my name, we were out a little under 500$ after all was said and done, and had to appear in court. My state (ak) may be a little over the top, but the legal concern is fraud and people changing their name to defraud or otherwise elude "proper authority."

Anyway, just posting to say that changing legal names for non-minors can be a real PITA and just get set with what you want (I suggest one name only - 2names is confusing at best, and can appear deceptive at worst).

If you and dp are uninterested in new names for yourselves, just hyphenate for the child, or blend, or do a middle name - last name kind of deal like I did. But don't mess with your own names, unless you want the unity or it feels necessary (like for us, with the ex-pat thing). If your kid, heaven forbid, is in the ER, and you show up frantic with concern and asking alll the right questions, when you state that you are mother, no one will challenge you, chances are, in the US. If you are exceptionally worried, carry a copy of his birth cert with you.

FTR, our hyphenated last name would be 23 characters and six syllables - totally feel ya on that one!

HTH!

K: high school teacher and mama to DS1 (7/07), loss (10/10) and DS2 (7/12). Married to my best friend and soon to be elementary school teacher!
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#20 of 23 Old 07-22-2011, 07:47 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by greenemami View Post
just go by whichever you want depending upon the situation without having to deal with it being totally different than your legal name.


Except then you have to keep track of where you used what name, and so does anybody else (other family members, coworkers, whoever) who needs to be able to access your records. It seems like it would be way too easy to get confused or have somebody else get confused. In the pharmacy where I work, I can't tell you how many times I've had the husbands of women who hyphenate their names ask for their prescription under the wrong name, and then of course we can't find them. Or the women themselves tell me to just put them in under whichever name. I tell them I don't care either way how they want to be in the computer, they just need to pick whatever way they prefer and then always ask for their prescriptions under that name. It's a big source of confusion when it happens. And I would imagine this plays out in many other venues as well. I think if you want to be Katie Smith-Jones you should be Katie Smith-Jones everywhere except maybe for informal social things, then you don't have to worry about where you're Smith and where you're Jones and where you're Smith-Jones.


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#21 of 23 Old 08-08-2011, 04:56 AM
 
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My husband and I each kept our names and hyphenated DS'.  When we've traveled internationally, I think it's been helpful for DS to have both.  My husband and I are of different races, and thought it was especially important to have an obvious name connection because we didn't know whether DS was likely to look like one or the other of us, or neither.

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#22 of 23 Old 08-08-2011, 10:44 AM
 
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We hyphenated both our last names for ds.  I wanted a totally different last name for ds, but we couldn't come up with one we liked and I caved to familial pressure of ds having dp's last name, but there was no way I was going to let him have *only* dp's last name.  I feel like i know kids with every combination, just dad's, just mom's, one dad's but not the other dad's, totally different name, hyphenated, middle name is one of the parent's names.  

 

My housemates just adopted, they have the same first name (for annoymity's sake, let's say Rich and Richard) and they gave their baby the last name Richards.  I know 2 couples who are Dan and Danielle they could have (although neither did) given their kids the last name Daniels.  

 

I'm not married to dp, but if he's in the hospital I just say "My husband, John Smith, is here and I want to see him"  It's not like anyone asks for a marriage certificate.

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#23 of 23 Old 08-08-2011, 08:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prothyraia View Post

If your only concern is having the 'same' last name as the baby, you could go with "YourLastName- Partner'sLastName" as the baby's last name, and neither of you would have to legally change your names.


This.

 

This is what we are doing.

 


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