Casually dressed female colleagues talking in a meeting room

Changing your surname to your married name – Things to consider in professional life

Karina Ralston Karina Ralston ||

The present times have seen an emerging practice of working women opting to keep using their maiden name in their professional life, or even retaining their maiden name altogether.

One of the biggest reasons for this is that for many professionals, your name is your most valuable asset. In modern society, women, like men, develop unique reputations in their respective industries. Not only is a reputation developed, but professional relations instil trust and confidence between colleagues and clients.

In a survey conducted by global measurement company Nielsen in 2013, it was recorded that 84% of consumers trust recommendations from people that they know, compared to approximately 50-60% who trust various forms of advertising. If your name is no longer searchable through social media networks and search engines, you may lose out on a significant amount of potential business.

The law provides for an adult to assume any surname they wish (as often as they wish except for the purposes of fraud). A person’s surname does not form part of their legal name, but rather a ‘conventional’ or ‘informal’ name by which a person is known. Essentially this means that there are no obligations imposed on women to change their surname formally if they retain their maiden name. Women may choose to maintain their maiden name completely for professional purposes, and identify using their married name ‘by association’. They may also choose to change to their married name on all legal documents, and maintain use of their maiden name amongst whichever circles they choose.

If a person identifies under multiple surnames, one thing to be conscious of is to pick which name they record on legal documents, and maintain that. Whilst signing the incorrect name is unlikely to cause any legal consequences, it may result in time consuming inconvenience in the event that government agencies are unwilling to accept inconsistent documentation.



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