BreezyBry
Savvy August 2021

Creating a new last name rather than taking mine or his?

BreezyBry, on May 20, 2021 at 12:34 PM Posted in Married Life 0 16
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My FH and I are struggling with a name change. I really want to take his name because I just always imagined doing it that way and he never said otherwise. Last night, he told me that he would prefer I keep mine or that he take my last name.

He hates his last name because it was poorly translated into English from Chinese. He feels like he faces discrimination because of his name for job opportunities and when he was in school because it is very obvious that it is a Chinese name. He does not want me or our future children to face discrimination, so he doesn't want me to change my name. He is also not attached to his name as a "family name" because it isn't truly his family name. He received this name when he came to the US at 8 years old.

For me, I just never imagined keeping my name and don't want to do so. I don't want to answer questions about why I kept it and I really want my husbands name.

Our thought is to both take on a new last name that is closer to his real family name. Has anyone done this? Like if a Smith and a Jones marry and decide to take the name Brown or something. Would the process be the same as if I were just taking on his normal last name?

16 Comments

Latest activity by BreezyBry, on May 25, 2021 at 10:04 AM
  • Nicole
    Devoted August 2022
    Nicole ·
    • Flag
    You can write in whatever last name you want to change to on your marriage license. It does not need to be your FH's last name.
    • Reply
  • M
    VIP January 2019
    Maggie ·
    • Flag

    Couples definitely do this and I think it's a great idea. The logistics of it might depend on where you live. I know that where I got married, the license is actually a "free pass" for any name changes desired by either party. There's a time limit though, and if you don't use the marriage license to change names but want to do it later, then it involves extra fees and a court date.

    • Reply
  • Nicole
    Devoted August 2022
    Nicole ·
    • Flag
    I just googled this to find out not all states allow this. You'll have to research what kind of name change is allowed in your state vs. which you'll need to petition at the court. Sorry!
    • Reply
  • Grace
    Super February 2022
    Grace ·
    • Flag
    Definitely check your state's specific rules on name changes. Some states it is easy to switch to a new name (different that either spouses original last name). Other states it is a long process and you may have to stand in front of a judge and argue why it is necessary.


    For what it is worth, it sounds like a great plan to create a new last name that you are both happy with. Your FH's explanation for why he wants to change it makes a lot of sense. So long as it is legally possible, I would say go for it. I know someone at work who chose to go this route. My close friend from high school is also planning to do this since both her and her partner have hyphenated last names already.
    • Reply
  • Cool
    Super July 2020
    Cool ·
    • Flag
    It’s easier for you than him. It’s sexist, yes, but when you get married it’s easy for the wife to change their name to whatever. For the man to change his name is a more tedious process but it is possible.
    • Reply
  • BreezyBry
    Savvy August 2021
    BreezyBry ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    I was able to do a little digging and it would be a huge pain in Louisiana. They only allow exchanging names or hyphenated names. Unfortunately, we are getting married too soon to get it all done before then and getting it done after would cost us both a ton of money.

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  • Melody
    Expert April 2021
    Melody ·
    • Flag

    It's a good idea in theory, but the practical side of it is usually much more complicated. Different states have different rules and what may be a fairly simple process in one state isn't even allowed in another. I'm in CA and these are the options I had:

    - I take his name.

    - He takes my name.

    - We both just keep our names as is.

    - We hyphenate both last names (either Smith-Jones or Jones-Smith)

    - We create a new last name that is a combination of our current names (Smith and Jones could change to Smones, but we couldn't just up and change it to Brown since that has no affiliation with Smith or Jones.)

    So what you're wanting to do wouldn't even be a possibility in my state. It sounds like your state is even a bit more restrictive than mine, though. I am sorry for the situation you're in. It's fairly unique, so it's one of those situations where procedures just haven't been set up to make it work.

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  • Grace
    Super February 2022
    Grace ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    That is unfortunate. At least you are figuring this out now though.
    • Reply
  • Samantha
    Expert October 2021
    Samantha ·
    • Flag
    I have a friend who's last name was mistranslated. He had to go through the court to change it. If your FH feels strongly about it, then you could always translate his name into the English equivalent. For example, my family's Chinese last name would translate to sweet. So maybe I would create Sweetman or Sweets. My Mom also gave us children Chinese names which we both treasure, but don't use on a regular basis.
    • Reply
  • C
    Master January 2019
    Cassidy ·
    • Flag
    We did not make up a name, rather we took my in-laws name (my husband had his mother’s maiden name). He had to petition the court to change his name a few months before the wedding. Then I changed mine as normal. Fees and court costs were involved.
    When he changed his name they basically said he could have changed it to whatever he wanted (within reason).
    Look into what your states options are. It may be as easy as choosing a new one and putting it on the license or it may be more involved. Either way it can be done. If it involves going to court makes sure he does it before the wedding so you don’t have to go to court as well.
    • Reply
  • Elizabeth
    Dedicated August 2021
    Elizabeth ·
    • Flag
    I think it's really sad that your future husband has felt discriminated against based on his name! I'm very sorry this happened to him. Of course the decision is entirely up to the both of you, but I'd personally encourage him to keep his last name (or even change it back to his original Chinese last name!) and embrace his heritage. He shouldn't have to change who he is. Handing his original Chinese name down to your future children seems like it would be a great way to honor his heritage. Again, I'm so sorry he had to feel this discrimination and shame based on his ethnicity and name! I hope you both are able to come to an agreement you are happy with.
    • Reply
  • K
    Dedicated October 2021
    Kayla ·
    • Flag

    I personally love the idea of couples creating a new name together! I was surprised to see these other comments though about the rules in different states because I was always under the impression that adults could legally change their names to whatever they want for whatever reason. Like on Friends...Princess Consuela Banana Hammock and Mike Crap Bag? I thought that was really possible lol. I'm assuming it is in certain states?

    On a more serious note, I am sorry to hear about what your husband experienced with his name. No one deserves that kind of treatment!

    • Reply
  • Kimistar
    Dedicated March 2021
    Kimistar ·
    • Flag
    I also agree it’s sad but also the unfortunate truth that discrimination does occur. I’m Chinese and totally understand it. While it’s ultimately the couple’s discussion to decide what to do their their names, I also encourage to keep it the Chinese last name. I would take the opportunity to correct the last name to what it should’ve been to translate to or to another Chinese spelling from a different dialect. For example, the Chinese last name Xie (Mandarin) can also be spelt as Chia (Teochew) or Tse (Cantonese).
    • Reply
  • Kari
    Master May 2020
    Kari ·
    • Flag

    I know of at least two couples who have done this - in one case they combined last names to make a new one (like Greenwood and Bigthumb becoming Bigwood or Greenthumb), and in the other case it was a new name entirely unrelated to the name either had grown up with. I don't know the legalities of it depending on where you live, but there is certainly a precedent for others doing it.

    • Reply
  • Rosie
    Rockstar February 2022
    Rosie ·
    • Flag

    Another vote in favour of changing the name! Could you take a name that has the same meaning as his actual last name? (ie, my last name means 'stand of trees', so I might change my name to Copse or Woods, or Forest or Grove).

    You could also just blend your names together somehow - this is something I honestly think should be the way last names go. Ie, if my last name is Jones and his is Green, we might become the Grones or the Jeens.

    Another option would be taking a name that you just... both really like the sound of with your first names!

    Essentially, you are wanting to create a family identity with the same name. If neither of you is attached to his last name, then why not pick something else that you do feel attached to!

    • Reply
  • BreezyBry
    Savvy August 2021
    BreezyBry ·
    • Flag

    Thanks everyone! I think we decided to keep it as is for now. Even though his current name isn't translated how he would like it to be, he has lived with it for 30 years. He is an artist and all of his paintings have this name on it. We weighed the pros and cons, and ultimately decided to keep his name.
    We agreed that in cases of applying for jobs (which was his biggest concern) that I would use my maiden name. It is really sad that he and his family have to worry and live with discrimination. It was sweet of them to think of me.

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