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Hi, I'm sorry if this has been covered before, but I couldn't find anything on this when I searched the forum.

I'm marrying a French man and I would like to take his last name or have a hyphenated last name. I'm a little confused about how this works in France. I heard somewhere that, for legal matters/official documents, a French wife usually uses her "maiden name." Is this true? Are there situations in which her last name is truly legally changed to her husband's last name?

I'm also wondering what name I would use for my passport and spouse visa application once we are married. Would I need to get a new passport if I take my spouse's last name?

Thanks for any advice!
 

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In France women keep their maiden name (for life), but you can use your husband's name as your nom d'usage, or eg. 'your husband's surname' or ''your maiden name epouse your husband's surname'. This means that you do not need to change your passport. If you are planning on living in France then I strongly recommend that you do not change your surname to your husband's name in the USA - it will cause significant administrative complications in France.

Edit: You use your maiden name for your spouse visa (but if there is a box for 'nom d'usage' you can insert whatever form you choose there).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you, EverHopeful. I am so grateful for you and Bev and all of the other people who share advice on here. I wonder how many marriages you two have helped make possible? Many, many thanks! What a wonderful forum.
 

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Thank you, EverHopeful. I am so grateful for you and Bev and all of the other people who share advice on here. I wonder how many marriages you two have helped make possible? Many, many thanks! What a wonderful forum.
Not me :D Bev is far more familiar with these things than I am and far more responsive to questions.

All the best for the wedding, which must be coming very soon now. And I hope you found a dress :)
 

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I've been having system problems here, so appreciate EH jumping in to give you the information. As she mentioned, you don't ever actually change your name in France - you just take your husband's name as a "nom d'usage" (if you want to). And, if you get divorced (I am NOT wishing that on you) you cannot continue to use your ex's last name unless you get specific permission from him as part of the divorce decree. Trust me, it makes Life a whole lot simpler to do things this way!

Anyhow, the next key decision point in the name game here will come when you have your first child. Said child can take either your last name, the father's last name or a hyphenated version of the two names as their birth "family name." But once you decide for child #1, all the subsequent children of the marriage have to take the same surname. (None of this naming the girls after Mom's family and the boys after Dad's.) Again, in the long run it keeps Life simpler (IMO, anyhow).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Marriage is indeed a legitimate reason.

I mention this process because for those who do opt to change their last name, many people think that it is a part of the marriage process, whereas it's a completely different procedure (request to modify the état civil.)
 

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Just as an aside to this interesting discussion I have experience of opposites in UK and France.

During (amicable) divorce proceedings in the UK with my first wife she asked if she could continue using my surname as she was in business and changing name would have been additional work, client confusion etc. I said "yes" because it was no problem for me, and I was planning to move to France. In fact she continued to use "my name" until she remarried some years later.

On second marriage in France I was just a little surprised that my "new wife" (ha! we were both nearer 70 than 60!) wanted to keep her maiden name (nom de jeune fille) as a hypenated addtion to my surname. The only real problem is that parcels delivered to a local parcel depot are either in her nom de jeune fille, or my name....so we have to check both names.

In writing this I thought that the phrase "nom de jeune fille" is a bit dated (why jeune?), but then realised that "maiden name" is just as illogical.....true maidens are in short supply today?

DejW
 

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Just as an aside to this interesting discussion I have experience of opposites in UK and France.

During (amicable) divorce proceedings in the UK with my first wife she asked if she could continue using my surname as she was in business and changing name would have been additional work, client confusion etc. I said "yes" because it was no problem for me, and I was planning to move to France. In fact she continued to use "my name" until she remarried some years later.

On second marriage in France I was just a little surprised that my "new wife" (ha! we were both nearer 70 than 60!) wanted to keep her maiden name (nom de jeune fille) as a hypenated addtion to my surname. The only real problem is that parcels delivered to a local parcel depot are either in her nom de jeune fille, or my name....so we have to check both names.

In writing this I thought that the phrase "nom de jeune fille" is a bit dated (why jeune?), but then realised that "maiden name" is just as illogical.....true maidens are in short supply today?

DejW
I thought that in the UK a divorced woman could keep her married name if she wished, without asking her ex-husband's permission. :confused:
 

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Marriage is indeed a legitimate reason.

I mention this process because for those who do opt to change their last name, many people think that it is a part of the marriage process, whereas it's a completely different procedure (request to modify the état civil.)
Not in France it's not. Take a look at the Service Public page I linked to - under the drop down for "Cas concernés". I think the feeling is that the convention of the "nom d'usage" covers the matter as far as "I'm married and I want to use the same name as my hubby" so there is no need to use up scarce court time. The reasons they will make a legal change of name are things like: your name is "difficult" (means something nasty in French, for example) or causes you problems due to "notariety" (i.e. family name is Hitler or something).

I know the laws here can be real sticky about retaining a former spouse's family name. Friend of mine wanted to retain the family name of her late husband, although she had remarried. Legally, on remarriage, you have to choose between your maiden name and your new husband's family name.

US law on name changes (or name usage) are much more "relaxed."
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Hi EH...as you are usually right, I won't debate it. Our financial situations were very complex, and we wanted to keep the divorce friendly. Given this environment I think it was only reasonable that my ex wife asked me for permission to continue to use my name - whether she needed to or not.

At the time of our daughter's (second!) wedding my ex wife had just remarried, but continued to use my name. This caused a laugh with the wedding registrar because Mr and Mrs W were not married to each other, and there was another husband at the ceremony, and everybody seemed to have another name in their history.

....and we are still good friends!

DejW


I thought that in the UK a divorced woman could keep her married name if she wished, without asking her ex-husband's permission. :confused:
 

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Agree, same in the UK

I've taught UK CV / job interview techniques to French students. They were quite surprised that in the UK there is no need to put your birth certificate name on the CV. A simple case is that William Smith can put "Bill Smith" on his CV without any problems. and you can go a lot further, as BEV suggests.

As I remember UK law on names is pretty relaxed, you go criminal if you are intending to deceive for personal gain.

As an interviewer I've had people explain why the CV name is not their tax/social security name. Reasons range from divorce as already discussed, to a range of complex personal aspects. On one occasion I had a male candidate explain that he wished to be known by his mother's name because his father's family name had appeared in recent well publicised court case. I left HR (Human Remains) to sort out the legal aspects, he was a good candidate whatever name he used.

...old joke, but worth repeating.......you can call me by any name you wish - except "early in the morning".

DejW

Not in France it's not. Take a look at the Service Public page I linked to - under the drop down for "Cas concernés". I think the feeling is that the convention of the "nom d'usage" covers the matter as far as "I'm married and I want to use the same name as my hubby" so there is no need to use up scarce court time. The reasons they will make a legal change of name are things like: your name is "difficult" (means something nasty in French, for example) or causes you problems due to "notariety" (i.e. family name is Hitler or something).

I know the laws here can be real sticky about retaining a former spouse's family name. Friend of mine wanted to retain the family name of her late husband, although she had remarried. Legally, on remarriage, you have to choose between your maiden name and your new husband's family name.

US law on name changes (or name usage) are much more "relaxed."
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Not in France it's not. Take a look at the Service Public page I linked to - under the drop down for "Cas concernés". I think the feeling is that the convention of the "nom d'usage" covers the matter as far as "I'm married and I want to use the same name as my hubby" so there is no need to use up scarce court time. The reasons they will make a legal change of name are things like: your name is "difficult" (means something nasty in French, for example) or causes you problems due to "notariety" (i.e. family name is Hitler or something).

I know the laws here can be real sticky about retaining a former spouse's family name. Friend of mine wanted to retain the family name of her late husband, although she had remarried. Legally, on remarriage, you have to choose between your maiden name and your new husband's family name.

US law on name changes (or name usage) are much more "relaxed."
Cheers,
Bev
Well, the services publics page is not an exhaustive resource for French law. I can say that in my law classes we talked about the procedure for name change requests after marriage, since students need to know that th TGI is in charge of modifications of the état civil.
 

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Ah, I see what's going on here.

1) nom d'usage vs changement de nom (I'm talking about the latter whereas it is more common for couples to do the former)
2) The link to services publics does not take into account the law "modernisation de la justice du XXIe siècle" that partially reformed the procedure for name changes. The reform had been expected for a few years.
 
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