Many people choose to change their name after they are married, however, confusion still arises as to the difference between assuming a married name versus making a legal change to your name.
Assuming a married name
In Alberta, assuming the name of your new spouse or joining your name with theirs does not require a legal change to your name. Armed with your marriage certificate, you can change your identification such as driver’s licence and passport easily at a registry agent office. This is not considered a legal change in name and the name on your birth certificate can not be changed.
Changing your name legally
Individuals can change their name legally for any reason they wish, so long as the proposed name change does not contravene restrictions put in place by the Alberta government, including that a name can not contain numbers, non-letter characters or profanity and can not cause confusion, embarrass a person or be offensive. An application must be submitted in person at a registry agent office, and the application requires the applicant to swear an affidavit in support of the change, provide proof of identity and provide a fingerprint report.
If you have assumed a married name and wish to change your name back to that you had prior to marriage, you simply need to provide your birth certificate to the registry agent and request your name be changed back.
What about children’s names?
The question often arises as to whether children’s names can be changed following a divorce, whether to one of the parents or to join both the parent’s names. This can be, for obvious reasons, a highly contentious issue for parents. Changing a child’s name requires an application in similar format to what is described above, however, it also requires the child’s consent if they are 12 years or older and the consent of all guardians of the child. In the event that consent can not be obtained from all guardians, an Order from the Court pursuant to section 69 the Vital Statistics Act dispensing with that person’s consent must be obtained from the Court. In deciding whether to dispense with consent, the Court must consider what is in the best interests of the child.