parent opinion

I’m keeping my husband’s name after the divorce. My mother-in-law is going to be furious.

No one gets married with divorce in mind.

And likewise, while most women think about whether they will take their spouse’s name or keep their own after marriage, no one gives much thought to what name they will have after divorce. 

Unfortunately, like around half of all marriages, mine just hasn’t worked out, so this has become a dilemma I actually do need to consider.

I went down the traditional route of taking my husband’s name after marrying him, not so much because I’m a very traditional person, but because his name is far simpler than my maiden name was, and I was thrilled to enter a life where I wouldn’t have to spell my surname every time someone had to write it down (making reservations and making appointments became a chore no more!). 

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It was also nice to share the same surname as my children once they arrived on the scene. 

For both of these reasons, and because I’ve now had this name for more than half of my life and created my professional identity under it, I will not be changing it back after the divorce is finalised – and I know my mother-in-law is going to be furious! 

She’s always been hung up on the fact that my father-in-law’s first wife retained his name, even though she herself never changed hers after marrying him. 


I never really paid any mind to her comments at the time, but now that this decision needs to be made her words echoed back through my mind. 

“How dare she just keep using his name? What gives her the right after everything she did?”

Look, there are clearly other underlying issues there, but it’s almost like she views a man’s name as his property; property that a woman needs to return if she decides to leave him. 

We get along very well, but I do have to wonder what her reaction will be when she finds out I have every intention of keeping my name.  

My own mother went back to her maiden name after divorcing my father, but it didn’t really affect me or my siblings given we were all adults by then. 

It was, however, an absolute pain-in-the-arse for her to gather all the required documentation for a lifetime of accumulated accounts in order to complete the process. 

Who wants to talk to their telecommunications providers, banks, utilities companies, Medicare and Roads and Maritime Services (and many, many more) if you don’t have to? And, just like changing your name when you get married, it involves a major identity shift.

I know I don’t need to justify my decision, but it is my legal name. And if we’re going to see a name as the property of the husband, then like all property I’m entitled to at least a 50/50 division (i.e. I’m keeping the name).

Sorry, dear mother-in-law. I’ve changed my name for the patriarchy once already, and I’ll be damned if I’m doing it again.

Feature Image: Getty