What’s in a name?

A name is a word or set of words by which a person or thing is known, addressed, or referred. Recently, there has been a trend for people to legally change their names.

There are certain rules which have been enforced throughout the world.  For example, the French government banned a couple in Brittany from naming their child Derc’hen because it contained an apostrophe.  Another baby from Brittany, whose name was Fanch, was also banned because it contained a tilde (an n with a small sideways “s” above it).  Japanese Courts have upheld the rule that married couples must have the same surname.  In New Zealand a young girl was made a Ward of Court so that she could change the name she hated – Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.  New Zealand does not allow names that would cause offence or names that are longer than one hundred characters.

Legislation was passed in Quebec and in Greece that prevents women from taking their husband’s names.  It is still the norm in this jurisdiction, however, for heterosexual married women to take their husband’s surname but even this trend is slowly changing with more and more women option not to take their husband’s name.

When couples split the wife will often choose to revert to her maiden name and they can legally do this even before the Decree Nisi is granted in divorce proceedings.  This can be done by way of Deed Poll.  This can, however, create difficulties if there are children involved and the children have the father’s surname.  It is a decision which should not be entered into lightly.

Anyone who was born or legally adopted in Northern Ireland can change their first name or surname and there are a few ways to do this.  One can record a change of name with the General Register Office for Northern Ireland (GRONI), re-register the birth or change one’s name by Deed Poll.  There are fees for registering a new name in certain forms which have to be completed.

Should you wish to change your name, or enquire about changing your name before or after a divorce, please do not hesitate to contact Enda Lavery of our office.