Whose Surname Do We Use?

Now, I don't want to get on my soapbox and start 
chanting 'down with the Patriarchy' but what's so amazing about same-sex marriages is how they champion new traditions and encourage equality between partners.

When same-sex couples get married there's no automatic assumption about surnames in the way that there is in an opposite-sex marriage. Gay couples HAVE to have a conversation about surnames and that's how it should be: people deciding together rather than hat tipping to tradition.

Of course, there are a number of options available to same-sex couples:

  • You don't have to change anyone's name. Years ago, a woman took her husband's name to integrate into his family. It was a business transaction taking her from the protection of her father and into to the care of her husband. Today, it's a tradition that is both redundant and yet widely maintained. For same-sex couples, there's no tradition to comply with. One surname is worth the weight of the other, and many couples are choosing not to change either name to save money, time and effort.
  • You can take your partner's name or they can take yours. Deciding to do this will probably be the result of a conversation between you both. If one of you is happy to take the other's name, then the switch is very easy (explained below). Having the name, for some, is part of the "family" package and important for cementing a family status.
  • You could double-barrel your surnames. This seems to be the new norm amongst many same-sex couples and is a way of sharing a name without being excluded. For example, Ann Taylor and Kerry Lowe could become Ann & Kerry Taylor-Lowe or Ann & Kerry Lowe-Taylor.
  • You can combine your names into a new name (meshing) For example a John Horton and Jim McAllister could become John & Jim McHorton or a Lisa Palmer and Sadie King could become Lisa & Sadie Paling.  Depending on how well your name's fit together, of course.
  • You can also create an entirely new name. Maybe you've been watching Vikings and fancy Lothbrok as a surname. Perhaps you think Ronaldo, Starbuck or Darkstar (yes, really.) would be a good idea. Creating a new name is a way of making a fresh start with your partner on equal terms.

How to Change Your Surname

If you're taking your partner's surname, then you don't need to go through deedpoll in order to change it. You can send off your marriage or civil partnership certificate with a covering letter to any organisations, banks, companies or government departments that will require notification. The hardest part is remembering to send it to everyone.

  • HMRC
  • Your employer
  • Your bank
  • Local council
  • Utility providers
  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • DVLA
  • Credit card companies...

If you're meshing or hyphenating your surnames, then this will have to be done by deedpoll. The easiest way is for one partner to change their name beforethe ceremony and then afterwards use the certificate to change the other partner's name as you would normally. This saves you both having to do it via deedpoll and as such will be cheaper. Obviously, if you're creating a new surname, then that will have to be done by deedpoll, too.

If you need deadpoll, then you can download the form from the Ministry of Justice's website. 

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