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More domestic partners consider name changes

In Washington State and across the United States, domestic partners and same-sex couples face a unique set of challenges. With legal protections that vary significantly from state-to-state, same-sex couples must be careful to protect themselves when it comes to family law issues at all stages of their relationship.

One issue that many experts seen people in domestic partnerships dealing with is name changes. In the United States, only eight percent of women in heterosexual marriages choose to keep their last name after they marry. Recently, same-sex couple have also felt the pressure to have the same last name.

In some cases, people argue that it helps with child custody and adoption issues if each of the parents have the same last name. Other couples hope that by having the same last name they will be treated as family in medical facilities and in public. Some hope that by having the same last name they will add some legitimacy to their relationship in areas where same-sex marriages aren't recognized.

Whatever the reason, domestic partners are choosing to have the same last name, these people need to know that there are generally specific requirements that must be met to change a name. These requirements will be different depending on where a person lives. Generally, people must petition the court to have their name changed. They may be required to publish their new name in a newspaper and will generally need to pay court fees.

If people do not follow these procedures correctly they can face punishments. In some cases, people can face criminal charges for not legally changing their name but using a new name on official documents.

Whether to change their names is just one of the many issues that domestic partners in Washington face. In most situations, these relationships require careful planning especially during the dissolution process.

Source: The Atlantic, "For Same-Sex Couples, Changing Names Takes on Extra Significance," Vicki Valosik, Sept. 27, 2013

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