The Fun of Changing Your Name . . .

I have to say, I never considered that changing my name after marriage would be such a pain the butt. I didn’t get married until this past December 2013 at the age of 46. After all those years of going by my maiden name I just couldn’t see myself dropping my last name, it seemed odd. But I wanted to take my husbands last name, actually two names. He is Latin and has both his father’s last name and his mother’s and I wanted to honor both sides of his family and took them both. It sounds great in theory, and pretty cool when I say the whole thing but trying to get 5 long names to fit on ID cards . . . not so great.

The first adventure took place at the Social Security office. I did get lucky in that they have built a nice new SS department building since the last time I had to go there. It was pretty streamlined. You go in and sign in on a computer screen and get your number. Then you go to the waiting area and sit, watching flat screen TVs with the numbers flashing for who is next. They had several windows open when I got there and even with a constant flow of traffic to the windows I was still there for an hour waiting for my turn.

When I got to the window I was glad I had brought every piece of paperwork I thought they could possibly ask for. The lady helping me was able to fill out all my required information very quickly, just one problem. My name is too long to entirely fit in their system. I have to decide which name I want to not use.

I wanted to keep my whole original name, that was who I had been all my life but I had to have his last name too, that shows our connection as man and wife. The only possibility was the second name I had taken of Tony’s. It was not easy to say, “leave off this name.” It was his family name from his father’s side. I wanted all the names which is why I took them in the first place. This got me thinking though.

If I had to leave off one of my names would this cause problems later in life when it came time to claim Social Security? Now granted they could match me with my number but still, we all know how well the government can work sometimes and I wondered if it would be better to not take a chance.

I talked over the situation with Tony that afternoon. He pointed out that he had told me the long name could be a problem which was why he had said he would be okay if I just took the last name. I decided to look into legally dropping the other last name. I went to the court-house and filled out paperwork and went to have it approved by a judge. He said I would have to send registered letters to anyone I had debts with telling them of my name change and bring him back the USPS notification cards where they had received the registered mail before he would approve the change. That would take weeks!  I started to cry. It was already going to take months to get my visa and now this judge was going to tack on several more weeks to that. NO!  I could not understand why it was such a big deal. I didn’t have to go through all of that when I changed it on the marriage license just two weeks before. I hadn’t even changed my name on anything but the Social Security card. Everything else still had my original name. But the judge would not budge.

Seeing as how I was working to get everything changed over as soon as possible so I could file for a visa to Denmark to be reunited with my new husband, I was not willing to add several weeks to the whole process. I decided to keep all 5 names and let the chips fall where they may. (Besides I figured I’d look into it again in Denmark after I’m with my husband, with any luck the process will be easier there.)

So I went on to the next place on my list of name changes, the DMV. This was pretty easy. As with Social Security, you go in and check in on a computer screen now but the DMV was much better. you could put in your cell phone number and leave!  You could go, have lunch, shop and all the while you get periodic texts telling you how much longer until your number is next in line. If you can’t make it back in time you can request to be dropped back in line a bit to give you more time to get there without having to start over. Whoever put in this system, I love you!

When I got my turn at the desk, the lady there was very helpful and friendly even though I was near the end of her day and I’m sure she was ready to go home. To my surprise and delight my entire name fit on my license!  So I have at least one government issued ID with my entire name on it. It made me happy to see the whole thing there and I was glad I didn’t have to drop one of my new names. Slowly over the last few weeks I have managed to get everything changed but my passport. (That will take some time to send off and get it back. I will need my passport  for my visa request so that one will have to wait a bit longer.) Most places have not been able to fit my whole name on my cards but my first name, three initials for each of my middle names and then my full last name fit in most cases. I’m happy with that.

Since I was close to getting everything changed namewise, Tony and I decided to fill out all the paperwork to get my visa. That is turning out to be an adventure on its own.

Next: Good thing I bought a new ink cartridge before printing out my visa paperwork.

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