“Maiden name” is a phrase that appears on large numbers of legal documents. But what is a maiden name?
Here is everything you need to know about the term and where it might appear:
What Is A Maiden Name?
A maiden name is the pre-marriage surname of a woman who chose to take her husband’s surname after they got married. In other words, it is a woman’s family name before she got married and took her husband’s.
In the UK, a woman’s maiden name is likely to be the one that’s written on her birth certificate.
Is A Maiden Name A Last Name?
Yes, a maiden name is a last name. But it is used specifically only for women who have since taken a married name.
Your Maiden Name – Meaning
It is traditional following marriage in many faiths practised in the UK as well as in secular ceremonies that the woman takes the man’s surname.
This remains the norm. But in modern times, it is by no means a guarantee. It is increasingly common:
- For both spouses to keep their original surnames
- To create a new “double-barrelled” surname by combining both spouses’ surnames
After divorce, both former spouses can choose to keep their married name or revert to the name they used before they got married. In this case, this may mean the woman retakes her maiden name.
Do Men Have Maiden Names?
There is no equivalent of a maiden name for men. Traditionally, a man did not take a woman’s name following marriage so there was no need for the concept of a man’s maiden name to arise.
What is the mother’s maiden name?
Your mother’s maiden name would be the surname that was listed on her birth certificate – her surname before she was married (possibly to your father).
This was also a common security question asked by many banks and similar institutions. The idea was that this information was difficult to locate. Today, however, the internet has degraded its usefulness. A quick search query can usually discover what anyone’s mother’s maiden name is.
Can I Use My Mother’s Maiden Name In The UK?
Under UK law, there aren’t really any restrictions on changing your surname. Thus, if you want to start using your mother’s maiden name, there is nothing stopping you. The only stipulation the law makes is that you should notify the authorities of your decision to do so.
You can change your surname by Deed Poll or by using a Statutory Declaration (this is a kind of legal statement that you sign in the presence of a solicitor, notary public, or commissioner for oaths). A Deed Poll involves you renouncing your former name and adopting a new one.
If you ever need to prove to someone that you have changed your name, copies of that Deed are the easiest and most effective way to do so. This is because it means your new name is enrolled at the Royal Courts of Justice.
That said, there is no requirement that you use either Deed Poll or Statutory Declaration to change your name. As far as the authorities are concerned, you may simply need to prove that you have been using your mother’s maiden name for a long period of time.
Maiden Names And Marriage Certificates
A woman’s maiden name will not always feature on a marriage certificate in England and Wales. If a woman was previously married, she may list her previous married name if she took her previous husband’s. If a bride’s father is known and listed, his surname is likely to be his daughter’s maiden name.
In Scotland, a woman will normally list her maiden name on her marriage certificate even if it is not the one she currently uses (because she was previously married, for example). The mothers of both spouses will also list their surnames. Finally, a woman may also continue to feature in official records in Scotland under her maiden name.
Maiden Names And Birth Certificates
Birth certificates in the UK will include the mother’s maiden name by default. However, there is no requirement under UK law for parents to give their child any particular forename or surname. This means a child’s name on their birth certificate will be:
- Traditionally, and still most commonly, their father’s surname
- Sometimes, their mother’s surname (this might be their maiden name)
- A double-barrelled combination of both of their parents’ surname
- In comparatively rare cases, a wholly new or different name
A child’s surname also can be changed by both parents acting together at any time (that is to say, until the child becomes an adult at 18 years of age). Following divorce, a child’s name can sometimes be changed by the residential parent (the parent that the child lives with most of the time).
Maiden Names In Legal Documents
If you need to know more about when and how to use maiden names and their meaning in any legal context, the simplest route is to talk it over with your usual family law solicitor.
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