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TheTinyLawyer

Getting Married in Law School

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Hi, I am a 1L who is going to be getting married between 1st and 2nd year and I was wondering what experiences others have had regarding name changes and how that has impacted you. I've been told its quite the hassle to do so after graduation so I probably would do it right away. I'm on the fence about changing my name as my maiden name will be the one on my undergrad degree and I like my name and am rather attached to what I've achieved under that name. But I also like the idea of unity and sharing a last name and I know that my spouse wants me to take his (mind you he is respectful of my choice, it isn't a secret that he would prefer me to take his). I'm also possibly considering having one for personal and one for professional life (obviously my legal name would have to be the professional) and am curious regarding those of you who have gone that route. Any tips, concerns, experiences welcome! Thanks!

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26 minutes ago, TheTinyLawyer said:

Hi, I am a 1L who is going to be getting married between 1st and 2nd year and I was wondering what experiences others have had regarding name changes and how that has impacted you. I've been told its quite the hassle to do so after graduation so I probably would do it right away. I'm on the fence about changing my name as my maiden name will be the one on my undergrad degree and I like my name and am rather attached to what I've achieved under that name. But I also like the idea of unity and sharing a last name and I know that my spouse wants me to take his (mind you he is respectful of my choice, it isn't a secret that he would prefer me to take his). I'm also possibly considering having one for personal and one for professional life (obviously my legal name would have to be the professional) and am curious regarding those of you who have gone that route. Any tips, concerns, experiences welcome! Thanks!

I don't like the term "maiden" name - "maiden" basically means "virgin." 

Taking your spouse's last name has no impact on unity. None. If your spouse is so concerned about that, why can't he take yours? Or combine the names or come up with a new name? Why does "unity" always mean the woman changing her name? (Assuming you are female.) I can promise that whether or not you change your name has no impact on how close your marriage will be or whether it will last. 

I didn't change my name to my husband's last name when I got married, nor did he ask me to. I was already several years into practice and I am who I am under my name. You should be attached to what you've achieved under your name. (I know, that may be your father's name if you are from a patronymic naming culture - I am not - but the buck has to stop somewhere.) You're going to be a smart, independent, professional woman - keep your name, and if your husband to be really loves you, he will support that. I adore my husband and him me and we have a great marriage with two separate last names. ☺️

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I'm with @providence. If "unity" is what you're both after, why not hyphenate both your names, taking the other's as the addition? Then if you have kids your kids can have that hyphenated name. 

That's what I'm planning anyway, if my wife to be would be up for it.

I'll say Though this is a very personal decision, and I'm wary of the fact that you didn't ask about that. I'm sorry to say I can't answer what you actually did ask.

Edited by pzabbythesecond

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48 minutes ago, TheTinyLawyer said:

 I'm also possibly considering having one for personal and one for professional life (obviously my legal name would have to be the professional) 

Alot of people do this, and it seems to have wide spread acceptance regardless of what political circle you may run within. (Progressive or Conservative) 

But do what is right for you. It sounds like you have a really understanding and supporting partner. Do your best to keep your relationship healthy over the next couple years (it can be a challenge). 

Best of luck, 
 

4 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

your kids can have that hyphenated name

 Lol, don't do this ....

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Figure out what you are comfortable with and don’t let anyone judge you for what you choose to be called.

Just like it’s no one’s business if you have kids or how many, or if you get married or stay common law, no one should be casting shade over whether one or both of you change your name. Do what you want. 

It is a good idea to begin building your reputation with a name you intend to keep into the foreseeable future. This won’t really start until you graduate, so during school is a perfect time IF you want to make a change.

Using two names can be tricky logistically - as a random example, your license should match your bar card if you want to skip the security gate in my local courthouse. This may or may not matter to you: maybe a few headaches would be worth it?

Regardless, congratulations!

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I'm not going to comment on whether you should or shouldn't change your name (that should be your decision and not that of a stranger on the internet). However, I've found in my experience changing your marital status can complicate your financial aid application and the name change can be awkward professionally if you have to wait weeks/months for the government paperwork to come back. Similar to @Hegdis, I'd suggest the wisdom of picking one name and sticking with it to solidify your personal branding and just make things less complicated overall.

 

Edited by Ophelia

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Yeah, it's your call to keep or change your name or whatever you decide to do. I was really just addressing the issue of "unity." I don't feel like I have any less family unity not changing my name and when people say that you need the same last name to have unity, I sometimes take it personally as a comment on my choice, though I shouldn't. Even if I wanted to change my name, my situation is complicated by my kids who pre-date the marriage and their last names. But everyone who said it's your business and not anyone's place to judge is correct. And yes, congrats. Marriage is the most amazing thing. 😊

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Thank you everyone! I love that you all tackled a different aspect of my question. When I say use two names I was more thinking about simply using his on social media to distance that from my professional life more than actively using it in everyday life. I thought about having us both hyphenate but I don't know if our names are not suited to it. I think it's also a phonetics thing. (if that makes sense) My going from a 3 syllable name to a 1 syllable just sounds odd. I think we're just going to have to sit down the two of us and contemplate it more. Thanks!

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2 hours ago, TheTinyLawyer said:

Thank you everyone! I love that you all tackled a different aspect of my question. When I say use two names I was more thinking about simply using his on social media to distance that from my professional life more than actively using it in everyday life. I thought about having us both hyphenate but I don't know if our names are not suited to it. I think it's also a phonetics thing. (if that makes sense) My going from a 3 syllable name to a 1 syllable just sounds odd. I think we're just going to have to sit down the two of us and contemplate it more. Thanks!

I have nothing to add on the whole marriage name thing, but as far as social media goes, I would absolute recommend going by first and middle name, or some combination of not your real name. Otherwise, make sure everything is locked down as tight as can be to friends only. 

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I would just echo the advice that, if you're going to change your name, it would be better to do it now before you're licensed.

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13 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I'm with @providence. If "unity" is what you're both after, why not hyphenate both your names, taking the other's as the addition? Then if you have kids your kids can have that hyphenated name. 

That's what I'm planning anyway, if my wife to be would be up for it.

I'll say Though this is a very personal decision, and I'm wary of the fact that you didn't ask about that. I'm sorry to say I can't answer what you actually did ask.

I've always wondered... say you hyphenate, and have kids, and they want to get married and combine their names... "Hi I'm Stephanie Morrows - Johnson - Lee - Williams... Basically your kids won't be able to do the same thing you did.

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1 hour ago, Icharus said:

I've always wondered... say you hyphenate, and have kids, and they want to get married and combine their names... "Hi I'm Stephanie Morrows - Johnson - Lee - Williams... Basically your kids won't be able to do the same thing you did.

The tradition in a lot of parts of the world is to have two last names.

So Stephanie Morrows Johnson marries Frank Lee Williams. She stays Stephanie Morrows Johnson, but if she wants, socially she can be Stephanie Morrows Johnson de Lee. Shorthand, she can be Stephanie Morrows. 

The children would be Baby Morrows Lee, or Baby Lee Morrows, depending where you are from. So if Baby Morrows Lee marries Baby Trump Clinton then their child would be Baby Morrows Trump (or Trump Morrows.) 

Edited by providence
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59 minutes ago, providence said:

The tradition in a lot of parts of the world is to have two last names.

So Stephanie Morrows Johnson marries Frank Lee Williams. She stays Stephanie Morrows Johnson, but if she wants, socially she can be Stephanie Morrows Johnson de Lee. Shorthand, she can be Stephanie Morrows. 

The children would be Baby Morrows Lee, or Baby Lee Morrows, depending where you are from. So if Baby Morrows Lee marries Baby Trump Clinton then their child would be Baby Morrows Trump (or Trump Morrows.) 

This is really confusing.

Iceland has it right. Just add a "son" or "dottir" to the father's first name.

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A family member of mine was born with one name, being the one on her birth certificate - let's say "Maria Bianchi" (changing the exact names here). When Maria immigrated to Canada some time ago, she was given a more anglicized name  "Mary Bianchi", which was then used for a bunch of official purposes (passports, social security information, etc). She also got her undergrad and masters under the name "Mary Bianchi". She then got married, took her husband's surname, and became "Mary Smith". She got her law degree with this name and began to practice under this name. She then divorced her husband and changed her name back to "Maria Bianchi", which is her current legal name.

Certainly does cause a bit of confusion, as she's had 3 legal names and people who knew my family member early in her law career still refer to her as "Mary".

Edited by ghoulzrulez

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9 hours ago, ghoulzrulez said:

A family member of mine was born with one name, being the one on her birth certificate - let's say "Maria Bianchi" (changing the exact names here). When Maria immigrated to Canada some time ago, she was given a more anglicized name  "Mary Bianchi", which was then used for a bunch of official purposes (passports, social security information, etc). She also got her undergrad and masters under the name "Mary Bianchi". She then got married, took her husband's surname, and became "Mary Smith". She got her law degree with this name and began to practice under this name. She then divorced her husband and changed her name back to "Maria Bianchi", which is her current legal name.

Certainly does cause a bit of confusion, as she's had 3 legal names and people who knew my family member early in her law career still refer to her as "Mary".

This happened to my family when they arrived in the 70s. Half of my family went from *ethnic* last name to an anglicized version that sounds a little similar but is spelled completely differently. I always wondered why or how that happened (think Maria Bianchi to Maria Brown!)

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1 hour ago, healthlaw said:

This happened to my family when they arrived in the 70s. Half of my family went from *ethnic* last name to an anglicized version that sounds a little similar but is spelled completely differently. I always wondered why or how that happened (think Maria Bianchi to Maria Brown!)

I came to Canada as an infant. When I started school my first name was anglicized.

How does it happen? One day you start going by the anglicized name, your friends, you teachers call you that name, you start answering to it, and it becomes how everyone knows you.

Why does it happen? I am not sure if this applies to everyone, or if it is still the case today, but as a young child in the 1970's I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be like everyone else, I wanted to be Canadian. Having a different first name made me stand out as different, as the other. I was fortunate (in my eyes) that my last name was not typical of others in my ethnic group, and did not stand out.  

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There are always going to be some kind of name issues.  For me, from birth my parents called me by not obvious shortened version of my legal name.  So now I have 40+ years experience of saying "actually, I prefer to be called..."

For @TheTinyLawyer there is no perfect solution.  Not changing your name lacks the "unity" she desires, but changing your name will present some hassles as described as well.  I can tell you that my wife went with using my last name personally, but her maiden name professionally, but when she went through a career change she just settled on my last name for everything just out of a sense of simplicity.

But there is no issue that is not insurmountable.  Just remember the phrase "Actually, I prefer to be called..." and you'll be fine.  Just pick the route you want to go and you'll be fine.

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She is asking about the implications about changing her last name and not for some of you to judge her and tell her what to do. Some people just can't seem to give advice without forcing their beliefs onto others... lol

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