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Subject:  Re: keeping the ex's name after divorce Date:  1/23/2013  1:26 PM
Author:  impolite Number:  4738 of 5016

The question of whether or not it's ethical to keep a married name is...bizarre to me. So bizarre that when I first read the question, I thought "that doesn't make sense", so I didn't answer it.

I'm still thinking about it several days later, so I came back. Obviously something is bothering me about it, if I am still pondering it.

Here's why I think the question about whether or not keeping a married name is ethical doesn't even make enough sense to ask in the first place:

1) It's the person's name. Angie #1 couldn't accuse Angie #2 of being unethical just because Angie #1 came first.

2) The person who changed their name at marriage *chose* to take that name. Why in the world wouldn't they then get to choose whether or not to keep it? There's nothing inherently unethical in the process, either direction. (I'm purposely leaving out the debate about gender expcetations, because that's a whole 'nother sticky wicket, yes?)

Now as to how the person decides to 1) originally take a new name at marriage and then 2) decides whether or not to keep the name after a divorce, I can only offer my own reasonings for both.

When I married at the tender age of 20, I took his last name because:

- My mother had taken my father's name.

- I wasn't particularly attached to my maiden name, as I was young and was about to graduate college (I had my degree put in my maiden name, FWIW, because I felt I'd earned it under that name, even though I was about a month shy of finishing when I married). I didn't have an established career with that name.

- I have a very unique first name. IT is the one most people fixate on, and for my middle name I am named after my Godmother and it means an untold amount to me that I have her name, so the last name? Kind of a throw away at that point.

- I knew I'd give any children of the marriage his last name, matching seemed easier.

- His last name didn't have any particular bad connotations to it. Nice, solid, regular name. I wouldn't be associated with the Kardashians or the Unibomber when someone heard it, in other words.

The reasons I kept that last name at the time of the divorce:

- My children had that last name.

- There's a lot of paperwork involved in changing a name. It just seemed ridiculous to go through all that, for something that I still considered "minor" (all my reasons for changing it still applied - I wasn't particularly attached to my maiden name OR my married name, so <shrug>).

- I had the notion that I a) wanted to get married again someday - I hadn't soured of the institution entirely, so would likely be changing my name again ANYWAY (see previous: don't really care what my last name is) and b) I wanted more children, and it would be weird to me to have three last names in the same household (as they, too, would likely have their father's name).

- I had an established career, and professional network, with that name.


The reason I changed my name to my second husband's name upon marriage:

- Still was not particularly attached to my last name (either of the previous).

- Marriage afforded me the easy opportunities of either leaving it as is (my two oldest children's last name), reverting to my maiden name, or taking my new husband's. The paperwork is the same for the last two, so they were equally problematic. IF I were to decide to change it, either was a viable option, and my new husband didn't care which of the three I chose.

- It is a unique last name. Not terribly unique, like tconi's, but also not common for this part of the country. It fits well with my first name and hell, I was used to spelling my first name already, so spelling the last also? No biggie.

- You can take the girl out of the South....though by my home state's standards I am quite the commie pinko liberal, I still have lingering Southern in me. Though I understand those marrying and deciding to keep their own names, *and* make no judgements about it (again - I had no attachment to my own name, but some do, whatevs) - it just wasn't the choice for me.

- I had started to grow tired of having to correct people referencing my "husband" to "you mean the childrens' father, we are no longer married"...some might not find this a big deal, and truly it wasn't horrible really, but it could have lead to some major HIPPA violations, for example, as we both have the same dentist, GP and eye doctor. Yes, really and yes, still.

- Some of it actually revolved around why we were marrying in the first place. A large part of the inconveniences we encountered were due to T being "mommy's boyfriend" instead of the kids' stepfather. Once I married, and changed my name, a relationship that seemed rather easy to follow in the first place but apparently was convoluted became "solid" in the eyes of the schools, daycares and other such offices. Magically, overnight. Stepfather apparently trumps Boyfriend, even though the only thing that had changed, since we were already living together, was we added a piece of paper to the mix. I don't know if this was because of the name change - I suddenly became visibly "not married to X" on paper - or because the cummulative effort on T's part to be visibly present at the school and other activities finally *clicked*, but at any rate it was a consideration in the matter.

My new husband didn't care what name I either kept or took. Had zero opinion. My first husband nearly came undone when I was deciding whether or not to take his name (he wanted me to) and I just did not get the drama (considering I had no attachment to either name); he *also* had a weird moment or three around me KEEPing it, which I found absurd as well.

In all three cases, it wasn't an action taken *lightly*.

impolite
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