What’s in a Name?

The name-change game has already been discussed by several bees, but I would like to throw in my two cents!

To be honest, I never thought about changing my name. I never wrote “Mrs. [insert name of crush]” all over my notebooks. My name is my own and I never entertained the idea of losing it for any reason. To me, it would be like losing a part of myself, like losing my family. I will admit that I’m not even particularly fond of my last name—it’s one of those stereotypical, super-long Spanish last names that ends in Z and is a pain in the ass to spell. On the other hand, Mr. B’s name is short and sweet and perfectly French. It would be soooo much easier having his name, but that’s never been an option. Why?

Well, in Québec, you’re actually not allowed! GASP. Whaaaaaat? Yup. Civil Code, article 393:

In marriage, both spouses retain their respective names, and exercise their respective civil rights under those names.

BAM! Lawyered! There is a super complicated legal procedure to circumvent this, but it’s costly, and most of the time it doesn’t work. The reason for this law was allegedly to maintain a woman’s identity and also to avoid situations of marriage, divorce, remarriage, etc. where a person goes through five different names in a lifetime. And while I personally agree that a name should be somewhat permanent and not linked to marital status (after all, half of marriages sadly end up in divorce), I also don’t think the government should forbid women from taking their husband’s name if they want to!

Some women are most concerned about having the same name as their children. Like Mrs. Toadstool, I grew up with a different set of rules. In the Spanish tradition, a person has two last names, the first being traditionally the father’s, followed by the mother’s. Each person carries both of their parents’ last names, and when they have children the child’s last names are composed by the first last name of each parent. So, for instance, I’m:

Miss Waterfall Middle Name Papi Waterfall’s (first) Last Name Mami Waterfall’s (first) Last Name

My children would be:

Hypothetical Future Child Mr. Waterfall’s Last Name Miss Waterfall’s Last Name and so on and so forth. (If you’re confused, go on over to Mrs. Toadstool’s post—she explains it much better, and even has an adorable little diagram to go along with it.)

I actually really like this system because I believe a child is made of equal parts from each parent, and that includes the names. Sadly, over years of living in Canada, having a first name, a middle name, and two sets of last names was really cumbersome because nobody else had that many names. I always run out of space on government forms whenever I have to enter my full name! Over time, I started going by my middle name and only use my full last name on official government documents.

What about our future children? Well, Mr. Waterfall and I have decided that they will only have his last name because, frankly, his French name and my Spanish name don’t go together at all. And sure, it bums me out a little that they won’t have any part of my last name, but it will make their lives so much easier.

What were your reasons for keeping or changing your name?


Mrs. Waterfall

Wedding Date:
June 2013
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  1. mspony Bee
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 3:12 pm

    I had no idea about that law in Quebec, that’s very interesting. I kinda wish it were that way here so that the decision were made for me!

  2. Member
    pocketfox 677 posts, Busy bee @ 9:12 pm

    I had no clue about this law! My aunt and uncle got married in Montreal, but she has his last name. I guess she changed it when she moved to Ontario.

    Also, I find it interesting that SO and I were (inadvertently) planning to follow a Spanish style on naming our future children.

  3. Member
    desiree.0615 772 posts, Busy bee @ 10:06 pm

    Wow! What an interesting bit of info I have learned today! I always love hearing different point of views in regards to changing your last name! Great Post!

  4. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:32 am

    So it isn’t weird for kids to have only their dad’s last name and not share a name with their mom? Wow, I had no idea that’s how they did things in Quebec… and only in Quebec, not all of Canada? Mind=blown.

  5. Member
    MissPoohBear 1 posts, Wannabee @ 7:31 pm

    Huh, that’s really interesting about Quebec… I’m kind of glad I’m allowed to take FH’s name here, though my situation is kind of unique: I have a traditional Irish last name, complete with apostrophe, which computers really hate. I often have to clarify with official places that my legal last name is different than what shows up in their computers… O’Malley as opposed to OMALLEY for instance. That plus I’m a lot closer to my mom’s side of the family that my dad’s and I’m marrying a guy whose last name goes pretty well with my first name, and, really, I’m actually relieved to be changing it. Yet another bonus of getting married…38 days and counting 🙂

  6. mswaterfall Bee
    Mrs. Waterfall 1403 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:38 pm

    @cosmo_gmr: @BeeRod527: I totally know what you mean about DE or DEL. For some reason when I was small, I decided my Barbies’ last name was Soza De Soza 😀
    @kristen182: Depends when they got married, the new civil code was only after 1994, so before that, judge away 😉
    @Mrs. Bracelet: @TriciaG: @Mrs. Pony: @desiree.0615: I was really suprised too when I found out in law school!
    @bridinmt: Unfortunately, it’s VERY long and last namey. Think Fernandez, Rodriguez… that sort of thing. I wouldn’t wanna do that to future waterfall babies 😀
    @TakeTwo: I agree. To each her own! I think it should be a personal choice and not a government dictated one!
    @Samantha: Him taking your name would be a really cool alternative!
    @FutureDrAtkins: That IS a connundrum! Sounds like you found a good compromise though. I guess I would have to file a name change with the Bar if I ever did change it since I’m registered to practice law under my current name.
    @pocketfox: She might have done it before the law passed or simply done the loophole version of the name change. I really like the Spanish way of naming children, though probably out of habit more than anything else 🙂
    @Blonde17Jess: Well, Quebec already has the lowest marriage rate in Canada since a lot of people are in domestic partnerships. I’ve seen it done all sorts of ways, Dad only; Mom only; Dad + Mom, Mom + Dad, Dad-Mom and Mom-Dad! But people don’t seem too concerned if the children have a different last name. Mr. Waterfall has his mom’s last name only, actually.
    @MissPoohBear: Lucky you!

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