- 4 years ago
- Wedding: October 2012
Hey bees – so I wanted to share my story of how my husband and I decided to change both our last names by combining our two names into one new one. I don’t want to say my actual last name here but let’s just say that my last name was Liffe and his was Cashippi and we turned into Cashiffe.
Once again, NOT our real names (although I am really Mrs. Cash!) but basically what we did was:
Liffe + Cashippi = Cashiffe.
We had a few reasons for this:
– I did not want to fully change my last name, I felt attached to mine and it had a whole heritage and history to it. I couldn’t get around completely sacrificing it.
– Luckily, my DH is a feminist and also did not like the idea that only the woman changes her name. He is the one who first jokingly combined them, and the more we joked about it, the more we actually liked it.
– Our names would look dumb hyphenated, Cashippi-Liffe would be just as dumb as the one in real life.
– We liked the idea that we get the most important part of Cashippi, the Cash part! My DH was always nicknamed Cash$ (i.e Cash Money) and I was so excited to be Mrs. Cash$! Fun fact: Weddingbee wouldn’t let me use $ in my name, and this is the larger version of my profile pic:
– DH has a brother and male cousins, there’s no worry about his last name being lost.
– We generally loved the idea of combining our cultures and last names and creating something new, and knew it wasn’t impossible to do, just a bit time consuming.
We only made our final decision at the last minute and had done some research and were not too worried about. We thought that when we filled out our Maryland marriage license that we would put our new last name on it. Nope.
At the time we got married we were actually living in North Carolina temporarily and were planning on moving back to Maryland. We saw that both states had difficult processes but North Carolina’s was a little bit more complicated (more paperwork) and North Carolina is more conservative so we thought we’d have trouble, so we waited until we moved back to Maryland.
In Maryland, my DH went back to the courthouse where someone in the family division informed him of the process:
1. DH would fill out a petition form to legally change his name from Cashippi to Cashiffe. It would cost about $150.
2. About a month or so later, he would receive pre-authorization from the court and would be given instructions to post a notice in a newspaper. This would run for about a month during which time someone could send an affidavit opposing it.
3. After no one opposed the name change, a judge would make a final decision. This did not involve a hearing but could have.
4. My DH, after about 3 months (can’t quite remember) received his legal name change order and could use it to change his SS, driver’s license, passport, etc.
5. We would go back to the court and amend the marriage license.
6. I would use the amended marriage license to change my name with SS and such as anyone else who just got married would.
So we got through steps 1-4 and then got to step 5, which was crucial. It was casually mentioned to us by a clerk and so DH went to the court, filed an affidavit to amend the license (another $55 or so) and left happy and excited for me to take his new name.
Which is where the trouble started.
A few weeks after he filed to amend the license, we got a notice saying it was rejected. We began calling to find out why and were told the decision who was made by a Master Clerk who would NOT talk to us. To this day, we’ve never talked to her. We’ve talked to her assistant and other people in the court, but she has never directly spoken to us. Her assistant explained that it simply “wasn’t done” and that generally they only amend the marriage license if there’s a mistake and that must be done within 30 days after the license is issued. Otherwise, the license can only say the name of the person at the time they got married.
What this meant was that I was now married to someone who no longer existed. Much less not being able to change my name, this essentially made my marriage license invalid.
We went through a few stressful weeks trying to figure out what to do and going through different options. We’d already started a process we didn’t expected to get so complicated. We considered me doing the name change, but I can’t because I wasn’t born in the U.S and do not have a U.S birth certificate nor my own citizenship certificate (I got it automatically when my mother did as a child). That part is another long story but basically, no legal name change for me.
We started thinking about whether we could get a new certificate: we could not remarry in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, or Virgina.
Finally, we found our option: New York.
New York is much more liberal in its laws. On your New York license both you AND your spouse write down your new last names, including whether you are hyphenating them or combining them like we did. And so we made a plan that we would go to Niagara Falls for our one year anniversary and get re-married (because at this point it was about 9 months after we’d first gotten married, moved, changed names). New York even has an option on its marriage license application if you’re getting remarried. The clerks in New York (so much nicer than the MD ones! we were shocked!) said they get weird cases like us all the time.
And so, about one year to the day we FIRST got married, we got married a SECOND time at a park overlooking Niagara Falls:
It was magical and yes, I have a picture recap coming soon 😀
A few days later I went and changed my name and thankfully, our fiasco is over with. But here is what I learned, for any couples considering doing what we did:
1. IT DEPENDS ON YOUR STATE. This is key, every state is different. New York was clearly more liberal in this regard than many other states, even though we thought Maryland would be. Research your state extensively to make sure you know what the process will be like, and maybe talk to people directly in the court to get their perspective (if they’re nice enough to give it). With that said…
2. Just because your state has passed marriage equality laws, doesn’t mean the bureaucratic system has changed to reflect that. You would think that once states like MD allow men to marry other men, they will make it easier for those men to take their husband’s names. Nope.
3. If you marry in a different state with more liberal laws and then go back to your own, your husband may not actually be able to use his marriage certificate to change his name everywhere. Not sure about social security but a woman at the DMV (MVA) told me that she’s had gay marriage cases where a man wanted to change his name using his marriage license and was not allowed to do so. For a man, that legal name change order might be key. With that said…
4. If a legal name change order is involved, do it before the wedding! Most of our problems wouldn’t exist if my DH had done his name change a few months before the wedding. We didn’t know, but now we do, and I hope the next “we” does too!
5. Be fully aware of what you’re getting into when you go the alternative route and if it’s worth it to you. We clearly didn’t. At this point, was it worth it? Hell yes. If I’d known a year or more ago what we would go through? Hell no.
6. Don’t try to trick the bureacracy – I didn’t mention this in my full story but at one point I went to SS and just wrote down the new name hoping they wouldn’t notice and they DIDN’T. So I did change my SS and it didn’t do shit, just made everything more complicated. That was just stupid on my part.
So there it is, the whole long story. I hope it’s relevant for at least one of you out there so that you know that us name-combiners exist, you’re not alone, you’re not crazy, but you may be in for a long crappy process. I just hope you take my tips so it’s not as long and crazy as mine was!