When a marriage ends, individuals have to decide what their legal name will be going forward.
If the relationship ended somewhat amicably, it might be more convenient to leave the name as-is, admitted the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Begrudging the amount of paperwork that would be involved in updating all of her legal documents, Redditor TAlastname thought it would be simpler to leave her legal name the same.
But when her ex-husband accused her of being petty for keeping his name, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if there was more to this issue than a minor inconvenience.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing to drop my ex-husband’s last name?”
The OP went through a divorce two years ago.
“My ex-husband (who I’ll call by his fake name, Tony) and I broke up two years ago after 26 years of marriage. We have four children together.”
“We ended amicably even more due to the circumstances (he is gay), and we divorced.”
“Due to the stupidity of the time and social pressure, I added my husband’s last name to my name. So all my documents like identification, driver’s license, passport, all credit cards, and voter registration card have his last name at the end.”
“Also, my business name is literally a part of my name and the beginning of his last name, and there’s no way to change after 20 years with that name and be known like that.”
The OP wasn’t looking forward to the process of legally changing her name.
“Honestly, it would suck to have to change everything, go to government agencies, pay for everything new, go to the bank to change everything, so I didn’t want to take out his last name.”
“I introduce myself by my maiden name; only in the documents is it this name.”
“I don’t intend to never change, but I just don’t want to go through it right now.”
“Tony is currently engaged to a guy, and they are going to get married in the next year.”
“The situation that happened was: Our son and his family decided to travel and invited me. He asked for my ID to make the reservations.”
The OP was surprised by the conversation that ensued.
“A few days later, Tony, his fiance, and I were at my grandson’s party. Our son said jokingly in the conversation circle that he couldn’t believe that until today I hadn’t changed my last name.”
“I laughed, saying that I was too lazy to rush to change everything that has this name on it.”
“Tony started to ask if I really hadn’t changed my name. He asked why I didn’t think that being engaged to someone else isn’t the best time to change it, and he insisted that it was weird of me.”
“I just replied, ‘Unless you can go in my place, spend hours and hours in lines, pay hundreds for it, I won’t do it in the near future.'”
“We stopped talking, and the party flowed smoothly.”
The OP later felt conflicted.
“Later, he called me and said I was acting weird and a jerk by refusing to change the name, which he said was uncomfortable.”
“I asked our son, and he said he understands my side of not wanting to do this, but he understands Tony’s side of being uncomfortable with his ex using his last name after the divorce.”
“So I ask for an outside opinion.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said it was reasonable for the OP to want to have the same name as her children.
“If she changes it, she will no longer have the same last name as her children.” – Hammerthrice
“There are kids, adult or not. Right now she has the same last name as at least one of them, and changing it would make that stop being the case.”
“That was what impacted my mom after the divorce. She says changing it felt like it would be rejecting ‘the kids.'” – Different-Leather359
“It will also possibly be the same last name as her grandchildren.”
“My ex was weird about his mum not reverting to her maiden name after divorce. She decided to keep it because of her kids and grandkids. But also she only had her maiden name for 20 years. She had her married name for nearly 40 by the point of divorce.”
“Why would she revert all of her documents for a maiden name she’d had half the length of her married name? She became a teacher after she married, she’d answered to Mrs. Married Name her entire career and literally never answered to Ms. Maiden Name in the classroom and was still working at that point.”
“My ex-MIL did end up with the same last name as her grandchildren, my children, because even though I kept my name, I caved and gave the kids their dad’s surname when he put a lot of pressure on me (I wish I hadn’t). So clearly he wanted matching last names with his kids but couldn’t see why his mother might want it too.” – Distinct-Inspector-2
“NTA. 26 years with a name, and a shared child with the same last name? No. You have no legal reason you need to change your name.”
“The amount of work that goes into it is a pain in the a**. You are allowed to keep that name if you want it. It’s yours. Not by marriage, but because you already legally changed it decades ago.” – Gilly2878
“NTA. There are all sorts of reasons women decide to keep their married name after a divorce like wanting to keep the same last name as their kids, keeping a consistent identity, business/professional reasons, or because changing your name is such a hassle like you said.” – LawGrad001
Others agreed and pointed out the OP’s ex didn’t own the last name anyway.
“It’s hilarious that he thinks that you hijacked it, as if there aren’t numerous people out in the world with the same last name.” – ReflectionNah
“No. It’s not his last name, it’s your children’s last name. He can change his name.” – hatetochoose
“NTA. I’m kind of puzzled by Tony ‘being uncomfortable with his ex using HIS last name.'”
“You had the name for 26 years. Did Tony not consider it your name during that time? Was he just loaning it to you on sufferance?”
“There are plenty of perfectly good reasons to keep his last name: your kids have that last name, all your documents are in that name, maybe you’ve used that name in your career, and yes, it is expensive and time-consuming to change it.”
“The patriarchal concept of women taking their husband’s last name bugs the crap out of me, but you’ve been that last name for 26 years. No one gets to tell you when or why to change now.” – Esmereldathebrave
“Tell Tony to change his last name to his new husband’s last name and see how he does with it.” – Background-Leopard24
“NTA. It’s not “his” name. It’s your name unless you don’t want it to be anymore.”
“I guess if your ex really wants a different name from you, he could pick a new one and legally change his. Why doesn’t he take his boyfriend’s last name?” – MonicaHuang
“NTA. The moment you decided to take your ex’s name, it became your name. He didn’t get the last name in the divorce. It is immutably yours until such point that you decide you wish to change it.”
“Depending on where you live it might be free/relatively cheap to change your name upon marrying, but relatively expensive for any other reason, including divorce. You should not have to occur this additional expense.”
“My parents were legally separated for longer than they were together and eventually divorced. My mother never went back to using her maiden name, it wasn’t worth the hassle. She didn’t have the money to change it, and even if she did it would be a waste. She also wanted the same last name as her children.”
“The only time my dad ever mentioned it was jokingly referring to there being two ‘Mrs. Smiths’ when he was getting remarried. Mum shut it down by offering the pre-prepared paperwork saying that he agreed to have his children change their last names and that he would pay half for all of us to do so. When his new wife mentioned it once, it was the only time I ever saw my dad shut her down.”
“Your husband is an AH. If he doesn’t want to have the same last name as you, he should change his name (and deal with the massive pain of having a ‘prior identity’ for the rest of his life).” – Natural_Garbage7674
The subReddit couldn’t have been more unanimous on the fact that the OP was not required to change her name, no matter the reason, even though her ex was getting remarried.
The OP had an established business whose branding would suffer if she changed her name, and she had her kids and their last names to worry about as well, not to mention her various legal documents.
But the subReddit also pointed out that the OP’s ex did not have a monopoly on his last name. Not only were there other families with the same last name somewhere in the world, but a person choosing what to do with their own name was one of the prices of marriage: keeping a name after divorce or not picking up the name at the altar in the first place.