Some of you may recall this little rant I went on after the updated Guidelines were released last year:

“Change of name by marriage: A party who has changed their name by marriage, and retained their previous spouse’s surname, must record that surname on the NOIM.”

The 2014 Guidelines said they may record that surname on the NOIM. I am NOT okay with this change. When a person changes their surname by marriage, they do not go through a legal change of name process and relinquish their previous name. Instead, they tell everyone who has their name on file that they want to be called by a different name (their married name) and show their marriage certificate as proof they are entitled to use that new name. They still maintain their birth certificate and still have access to their previous name. Indeed, many people who change their name through marriage only do so for personal purposes, maintaining their birth name for professional purposes.

I cannot find any legislative reason why a person who has changed their name by marriage, and continued to use their previously married surname, cannot use their birth name on their marriage documents, AS LONG AS they can provide a chain of documentary evidence showing the change from their birth name to their married name (i.e. birth certificate in Smith, marriage certificate showing Ms Smith married Mr Jones, divorce certificate in Mrs Jones, and photo identification in Mrs Jones, to show the person in the photo ID is the same person named on the birth certificate, just using a different name).

I did question this change during the consultation process, but I clearly confused someone when I talked about “a person changing their name by usage through marriage”, because the response was that changing a name by usage was different from changing a name by marriage and therefore wasn’t relevant to this issue. I have emailed the Marriage Law and Celebrant Section to follow up again and will update you if/when I get a response.

I finally got a response! I emailed MLCS about this change of name by marriage issue on 1 August 2018, and after multiple follow-up emails from me I actually got a response on 8 March:

We agree that the guidance is contradictory guidance. Thank you for bring this to our attention.

We agree that a party to a marriage, who has been previously married and changed their name through that marriage, may choose to use that married name when completing the NOIM.

We will amend Part 4.19 of the guidelines to reflect this.

So yay me, I won another one! It’s definitely worth chasing these things up!