Changing your surname when you get married

by Oct 7, 2019

It has been traditional for centuries for a woman to assume her husband’s name when they get married. A majority of woman still do this today but you may not be aware of what the options are. Even fewer are aware that men may now assume their spouse’s name if they wish. 

This is how it works: 

There are two laws that cover marriage in South Africa: The Marriage Act the the Civil Union Act. See this article for details on what they are and the difference between them. 

Under the Marriage Act only a woman may change her name. Under the Civil Union Act either spouse may change their name. 

A person getting married may keep their original (maiden) surname, take their spouse’s name or double-barrel their two names. Assuming your spouse’s name is optional and certainly not a legal requirement. 

It is important to note that a person changing their surname is still legally allowed to use their original name. In practice this means you may take your husband/wife’s name but still use your original name for professional or work purposes. 

The reason for this is that by the time people get married they in most cases have established careers with cars and houses. Their original name appears in all of these and it can be impractical to change all of these. 

 

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