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Name change


In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a name change could be effected in one of two ways, by marriage or by deed poll.

The questions have been asked over and over again. Do I have to change my name when I get married? Can I use a hyphenated form? Should I continue to use my married name when I am divorced? Is there a procedure for reverting to one’s former name?{{more}}

People can be known by any name they want, and some people have one name that is used at home and another that is used in school or at the work place. There is, however, that name which is on our birth certificate that must be used consistently in important documents such as passports, school records and certificates, among others. If there is an error in the spelling it is important to have it corrected in a declaration presented to the Registrar of the Register office.

Change of name by marriage

In SVG, a woman could be signing her maiden name for the last time when she signs the marriage register. It has been the practice, historically, for a woman to assume her husband’s surname after marriage, but there are some women, especially career women, who continue to use their maiden name because she already has many documents, such as university degrees in her maiden name. It is a matter of choice if one wants to change his or her name. Where you have decided to change your name, you will have to inform certain institutions such as your bank, your work place, and you will have to present a marriage certificate to do so. One could abandon the maiden name completely and become, for example, Mrs. Ann Jackson or retain your maiden name by using the hyphenated surname for example, Mrs. Ann John-Jackson. It is most important to have your marriage certificate to support or verify this. In the USA, when an application is made for marriage, the woman is required to indicate the name she will be using after marriage.

Change with divorce

With the passage of time, a woman builds up an identity as a wife. Mrs. Jackson may write examinations and obtain certification in the new name. If the marriage does not work, she might seek to dissolve the marriage. She might want to change the name and revert to the maiden name, but another might want to retain it. Here again this remains a choice. Three important documents come into play: the decree absolute (the document that is obtained when there is a divorce), your marriage and birth certificates. If you are reverting to your maiden name, then it will be necessary to have all three documents.

Deed Poll

In any case, where you want to have a name change, you can do this by means of a deed poll. A deed poll is a document that you sign and register as a Deed, where you tell the whole world that you are renouncing your old name and embracing a new one. It can be done whether you are married or not. You might need a lawyer to draft the document for you.

This is not a way to escape an old name because you have committed a crime as you could be asked to present your birth certificate.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]