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Name change after divorce

4 years 6 months ago #95952 by nbp
Hi all,

It has been eons since I have been on - life happens, you know? - but I hope everyone has been doing well! I'm dealing with an internal conundrum and am looking for some other perspectives to see if that might help me make up my mind. I just got divorced - it's a good thing, very difficult obviously, but needed to happen. I am now a single mother because my ex moved out of state, sees DD once a month, and is otherwise not in contact, but that is another thread... In any case, when we married 10 years ago I took his name. I grew up with my mother having kept her maiden name, and as a kid it often bothered me (though perhaps in part because she HATED when she was mistakenly called Mrs. Husband's Last Name, and because my parents did not have a great relationship), so I wanted to make sure we all had the same name, and I knew kids were part of the plan. So fast forward, DD, my ex, and I all have the same name. I am halfway through residency/fellowship and have 10 or so publications in my married name. The simplest and perhaps best thing to do is to just keep the name, since changing it is such a hassle and it could have career implications, but I feel some allegiance to my maiden name and I really kind of want it back. I keep going back and forth on it and here are the pros and cons I've come up with:

In favor of changing my name back:
- It's what I want to do, from an identity standpoint. A lot of this divorce has been about freeing myself from a relationship that in retrospect I should have gotten out of many years ago, and the name is symbolic - I want to reclaim myself!
- It's a much easier name to spell and pronounce (seriously, what was I thinking?)
- Related to both of the above, I don't really like my married name. It is clumsy and a bit awkward, and while I identify with it now, it still feels at its root as though it isn't me.
- I don't know at this point if my brother will ever have children, and I plan on having more, and could potentially give my name to a future child, keeping the line going, so to speak

In favor of keeping my married name:
- Inertia
- It will be an ENORMOUS hassle to change it - medical license, DEA, credit cards, banks, student loans, insurance, employer, blah blah blah. It was hard the first time, it will be harder now that I am a physician
- My publication record. I entered residency intending to become a researcher. I am now almost certain I do not want that, but hey, people's minds change, and even if I continue not wanting to be a PI, I still may want an academic role/affiliation. While I can always include those pubs on my CV, they won't come up when people search for me by my new name. Now, the area of research I do is different from what I used to do, but still...
- I'm a psychiatrist. This is not super relevant because I only have two long-term patients right now, but changing my name does imply a certain degree of self-disclosure. And later, will it be an issue if my diploma on my office wall has a different name? (Maybe I can get my med school to reissue a diploma with the name changed?)
- My daughter. As I said, I disliked my mother having a different name, though I deeply respected her rationale as a feminist. It was also unusual at the time - most of my friends' mothers had changed their names. Things are different now, very many of DD's friends' mothers have kept their maiden names, so perhaps from that standpoint it is less of an issue. But I don't know what it would communicate to her for me to get rid of HER name, for us not to have the same name. Especially since her dad is pretty uninvolved. Maybe he will step up his game over time, but if he doesn't she may not have a great relationship with him, and I wonder how it will affect her to share a name with him and not me. I also intend to remarry, and hopefully the man I am with now. He has a child as well. If we have another kid, which I hope to do, I may agitate for giving him/her my name (see above, passing the name on). In which case there would be two future-husband's last names, two my maiden last names, and then just her as the only one in the family with a different name.

It is entirely possible I am overthinking this, particularly as it pertains to my daughter. I realize that it looks the factors in favor of keeping the married name far outweigh the factors in favor of reverting back, just looking at the lengths of the lists above. But it does not feel quite that simple to me, and the nagging desire to have my maiden name back is still there. I'd love to hear any thoughts y'all might have for me!

Thanks :)

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4 years 6 months ago #95956 by lolaMD
Based on the pro's and con's you listed, I would keep the married name. But, in a large part I am biased by my own experiences. I have not been through a divorce, but I did deal with changing my name midway through medical school when I was married. Total pain, despite it still being pretty early on! I should have just stuck with one name, but like you wanted the change for the kids and to avoid the husband / wife different name deal. The two name situation doubled my time for licensure due to FCVS having trouble with verifying the two different names, marriage certificate, USMLE scores under 2 different names, etc. For my residency, I am still having difficulties with 2 names in the system. When I started residency, because there was my maiden name on some of the usmle score sheets, they entered it wrong in the system and took 6 months to fix the big issues. I am still dealing with problems on some of the EMR's in my program due to finding my maiden name showing up under some of the credentials. I think that after seeing the hassle first hand, I would keep my current married name even if I was divorced, widowed, or remarried.

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