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Taking your spouse’s last name: How do I make the decision to or not to?

Social Scene By Esther Muchene

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Whether a woman should take up a maiden name after marriage is a debate that is still raging on.

Since time in history, different societies have expected a woman to take up her husband’s name when she gets married. This has been the status quo for ages and is now being challenged.

You might be having a hard time deciding on whether or not you should make the big change. And since we all have preferences, you might not be sure whether it’s the right one for you.

Luckily, we are here to address some of the advantages and disadvantages as far as maiden names are concerned.

  1. It’s a symbol of unity

Being recognized as ‘Mrs’ gives you a sense of belonging. As you take up the new name, you are able to feel connected to your husband. This is also seen as the ultimate symbol of unity when the pastor finally announces your new title. And for many engaged women, their friends and family probably already identify them as ‘Mrs.’

By implication, this is a sure sign that your husband’s family and friends have already accepted you. Carry it with pride!

  1. It’s easier when you have kids

A family name is also a symbol of unity for the whole family. When you all have the same name, it represents togetherness and gives your kids a sense of belonging.

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Also, this prevents any confusion when it comes to birth certificates, school documents and any other important documents. It therefore makes it easier when you have the same name as a family.

  1. Dealing with legal issues becomes easier

Certain official documents require you to provide your maiden name for legal purposes. This can therefore allow you to avoid the confusion when you don’t legally have your spouse’s name. In some unfortunate cases, divorce battles might use the fact that you didn’t have your ex-husband’s name to twist custody and property wrangles. They might use that loophole to avoid providing for the children and exclude you from getting property that you both struggled to acquire. In such instances, it would be better to have to take up a maiden name once you get married.

  1. You are not legally obligated

In recent years, more women are opting out of taking up a maiden name. Being that the Kenyan law hasn’t made it mandatory to do so, more married couples are open to retaining their original names. For many different reasons, women choose not to go through the process of altering their IDs, passports and other legal documents. If you decide that it’s not for you, the law still supports your decision.

  1. Maintaining professional identity

For many women, their birth names are a big part of their brand and identity. Over the years, they have built a strong brand based on their names which they would rather not compromise. In other cases, some couples feel like they are not directly linked to each other’s professional achievements. If for example, you are referred to as ‘Dr,’ or ‘Prof.’, you might feel like you need to retain your birth name. Don’t feel pressured to change your name if you feel like it will affect your professional identity.

  1. You might have to change in case of divorce

When it comes to complications from divorce, you might need to go through the process of updating your official documents. Sometimes, these processes might require an attorney or lawyer which can incur additional costs.

That said, these are just but some of the many arguments for, and against, changing your name you should consider before taking that major step in your life.

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