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Name change? Name for publications?


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Hi all--My MS thesis isn't published in journal form yet, but it is listed in ProQuest under my married name because my university was very strict about using legal names on theses and diplomas (in contrast, my undergrad institution allowed you to add nicknames, middle names, whatever).

 

Now that I will soon be divorced, I'm wondering...

 

Would you change your name back to your maiden name?

 

I've finished one year of graduate school under my married name. I'm not so well known that changing my last name would cause any problems (i.e., people not being able to find me).

 

However, it will be hell for a bit to change all the necessary legal documents back to my maiden name. So I guess my other question is:

 

Can your publication name (academic persona) be different than your legal name?

 

I know there have been other threads about last names, and I know ultimately it is a personal decision, but seeing as how I'm conflicted about whether to change back or not, I'm wondering if you all have any opinions/thoughts on this.

 

If I can publish under any name, then the legal thing won't be such a big deal and could be dealt with later. I'm wondering because we will be submitting conference proposals soon, and I'd like to know whether to submit it under my current legal name or my future academic persona.

 

Thanks!

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I'm not divorcing, but I have considered some 'what if' scenarios. What if I divorced? Became widowed and decided to remarry? I've decided that I'm not changing my name. I did it once, before I had anything out there in the world to be associated with. All of my diplomas have my current last name on them. I was in the military and all of my military documents have my current last name on them. Everything I've published has my current last name on them. All of my taxes have been filed under my current last name. Why should I do something that disassociates me with my life? Patriarchy? Bleh.

 

I don't care if my now-spouse turned into the next greatest evil. Or, conversely, if I turned into the next greatest evil and my now-spouse divorced me and demanded I quit using "his" name. I'm not changing my name. It's my name now. I've done a lot with it and I've met a lot of people who associate me with it. I'm published by that name. Name changes confuse the issue and cause bureaucratic snarls that I have no intention of dealing with.

 

I think the name thing is over-rated to begin with. I have a name to differentiate me from everyone else out there, or we'd all be "Hey You." It has no inherent value other than nomenclature. I've added value through my own actions. To change the name to satisfy a patriarchal system, simply because I'm a woman and was expected to take my spouse's name, is a ridiculous reason to change it. I'm glad I did take his name when I married him. I've now got a nicely anapestic name that ends with a soft consonant, even if it does take too long to write down. However, I'm not changing it again. But that's me.

 

Though, if I ever write a novel, I'm tempted to masculinize my name for Franzenfreude reasons: Daniele to Danny.

Edited by danieleWrites
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First off, I'm sorry about your divorce. It's a terrible time and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Take care of yourself during the process. 

 

I had a relative in a very similar situation. Her married name was on her law school degree, registered with her state bar, and some national organizations. For her, it came down to the question of what she wanted to be called in her everyday and professional life. She ultimately chose to return to her maiden name. It took a few weeks to change the documentation with these places and for her co-workers to get used to the switch, but it honestly wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The organization that took the longest to make the change was her alumni association, believe it or not, but that situation resolved itself quickly when she told them that she wouldn't be sending them any more checks until they got her new name right :P  For her, the thought of keeping her dreadful ex-husband's last name was too much. She wanted to go back to her maiden name so she wasn't constantly reminded of him. The legal process wasn't much more than filing an application, waiting for a fairly pro forma hearing, and paying a nominal fee (under $100, I think). Some states include the name change in the divorce decree, so check on that. New credit cards took less than a week. New passport arrived in a month. Some of the legwork sucks, but these places deal with name changes regularly, so they're pretty good about it.

 

I think the biggest questions are personal ones: What do you want to be called for the rest of your life? What will you do if you keep your ex-husband's last name but then meet someone new and decide later to marry again?

 

But beyond personal questions there are professional implications. I think the biggest issue is consistency so that employers can find the work listed on your CV if they choose. If you decide to switch back to your maiden name right now, all you would need to do is note on your CV that your thesis is listed under XZY name, I think. But I don't think I would want all of my published work to be under a name that wasn't legally mine. It's problematic. I think it's OK for the few things you mentioned that were published pre-divorce, but I think long term it might be hard to explain. Honestly, publications are a big part of the reason why I will be keeping my maiden name. It's the only way to assure that consistency that I can see. Maybe someone else with more experience with this will chime in with another alternative...if so I'd be eager to hear it.

 

 If you're applying to conferences, I think you can use your maiden name without a legal name change without it being a big deal. As long as the name on your proposal matches your CV, I think you'll be fine. None of the conferences I've done work for have ever checked legal names. They all just sort of took folks at their word that the name they're using/submitting under is the one they want on the programs/schedules/web pages.

 

I have no idea if this has been helpful or not. It's just my experience with the whole professional name/married name fiasco. Best of luck to you, whatever you decide!

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I'm not divorcing, but I have considered some 'what if' scenarios. What if I divorced? Became widowed and decided to remarry? I've decided that I'm not changing my name. I did it once, before I had anything out there in the world to be associated with. All of my diplomas have my current last name on them. I was in the military and all of my military documents have my current last name on them. Everything I've published has my current last name on them. All of my taxes have been filed under my current last name. Why should I do something that disassociates me with my life? Patriarchy? Bleh.

 

I don't care if my now-spouse turned into the next greatest evil. Or, conversely, if I turned into the next greatest evil and my now-spouse divorced me and demanded I quit using "his" name. I'm not changing my name. It's my name now. I've done a lot with it and I've met a lot of people who associate me with it. I'm published by that name. Name changes confuse the issue and cause bureaucratic snarls that I have no intention of dealing with.

 

I think the name thing is over-rated to begin with. I have a name to differentiate me from everyone else out there, or we'd all be "Hey You." It has no inherent value other than nomenclature. I've added value through my own actions. To change the name to satisfy a patriarchal system, simply because I'm a woman and was expected to take my spouse's name, is a ridiculous reason to change it. I'm glad I did take his name when I married him. I've now got a nicely anapestic name that ends with a soft consonant, even if it does take too long to write down. However, I'm not changing it again. But that's me.

 

Though, if I ever write a novel, I'm tempted to masculinize my name for Franzenfreude reasons: Daniele to Danny.

 

I was at a beach once, and I overheard some teachers on vacation talking about how they were divorced but had kept their married names because it was just too much trouble to change it back. I totally understand your viewpoint. I have been "Mrs. D" ever since I started working, so the name has been with me for a long time. I've been experimenting with writing my current name and my maiden name to see which one felt better... the jury is still out on that one.

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First off, I'm sorry about your divorce. It's a terrible time and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Take care of yourself during the process. 

 

I had a relative in a very similar situation. Her married name was on her law school degree, registered with her state bar, and some national organizations. For her, it came down to the question of what she wanted to be called in her everyday and professional life. She ultimately chose to return to her maiden name. It took a few weeks to change the documentation with these places and for her co-workers to get used to the switch, but it honestly wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The organization that took the longest to make the change was her alumni association, believe it or not, but that situation resolved itself quickly when she told them that she wouldn't be sending them any more checks until they got her new name right :P  For her, the thought of keeping her dreadful ex-husband's last name was too much. She wanted to go back to her maiden name so she wasn't constantly reminded of him. The legal process wasn't much more than filing an application, waiting for a fairly pro forma hearing, and paying a nominal fee (under $100, I think). Some states include the name change in the divorce decree, so check on that. New credit cards took less than a week. New passport arrived in a month. Some of the legwork sucks, but these places deal with name changes regularly, so they're pretty good about it.

 

I think the biggest questions are personal ones: What do you want to be called for the rest of your life? What will you do if you keep your ex-husband's last name but then meet someone new and decide later to marry again?

 

But beyond personal questions there are professional implications. I think the biggest issue is consistency so that employers can find the work listed on your CV if they choose. If you decide to switch back to your maiden name right now, all you would need to do is note on your CV that your thesis is listed under XZY name, I think. But I don't think I would want all of my published work to be under a name that wasn't legally mine. It's problematic. I think it's OK for the few things you mentioned that were published pre-divorce, but I think long term it might be hard to explain. Honestly, publications are a big part of the reason why I will be keeping my maiden name. It's the only way to assure that consistency that I can see. Maybe someone else with more experience with this will chime in with another alternative...if so I'd be eager to hear it.

 

 If you're applying to conferences, I think you can use your maiden name without a legal name change without it being a big deal. As long as the name on your proposal matches your CV, I think you'll be fine. None of the conferences I've done work for have ever checked legal names. They all just sort of took folks at their word that the name they're using/submitting under is the one they want on the programs/schedules/web pages.

 

I have no idea if this has been helpful or not. It's just my experience with the whole professional name/married name fiasco. Best of luck to you, whatever you decide!

 

No worries--divorcing that a**hole was the best thing I ever did! Our divorce is taking much longer to finalize than it should have, though, so now that it's almost done... I am wondering what to do about the last name.

 

The weird thing about my situation is that I don't necessarily associate the last name with just him. My kids have his last name. I'm on good terms with his parents (better than he is, in fact). The last time I used my maiden was in college. We married one year after I graduated from college, and I have spent my whole adult life with him. When I look at my maiden name--it just doesn't feel like me. But maybe it will if I keep using it...

Edited by wildviolet
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You could also go with the hyphenated approach, wildviolet.

 

LOL, oh goodness no! It works for some names, but with our two last names... it would just be a super strange mess. I've seen lots of married female professors use both last names without hyphens--I think that's a great idea if the two names are somewhat compatible. But, ours are both ethnic last names (one Asian, one Hispanic) and they just would not sound right together...

 

Thanks, though! :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

My first thought was that it should be no problem to use your maiden name professionally, but the more I think about it, the less I think so. Publication frequently involves contracts between you and the publisher, including agreements about copyright, etc.  I would guess that the hassle involved in explaining to every publisher (not to mention school/employer) you work with that your legal name is different than the name you submit under would be really frustrating.

 

On a personal note, why saddle yourself with his name going forward if you're even in doubt about it??  Right now, it would be easy for you, professionally speaking, to go back to your maiden name -- I say do it! :)  Once you've established yourself in the field, you won't want to change it.  You're literally going to be building a name for yourself -- make it one that makes you happy.  Have you looked into what it would take in your state/country to change your name back?  Where I am, it's not actually that hard.  One day's worth of annoying trips to the Social Security Office and DMV, and you're done.  Getting everything else updated is a pain, but for many of those things, you're going to be changing them anyway (to change the address, or take his name off, or whatever). 

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I don't care if my now-spouse turned into the next greatest evil. Or, conversely, if I turned into the next greatest evil and my now-spouse divorced me and demanded I quit using "his" name. I'm not changing my name. It's my name now. I've done a lot with it and I've met a lot of people who associate me with it. I'm published by that name. Name changes confuse the issue and cause bureaucratic snarls that I have no intention of dealing with.

 

Yeah, this is where I am, too.  Also, my maiden name was extremely common, so using my spouse's name has been quite useful as a scholar -- I'm now the only one out there! :)

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My first thought was that it should be no problem to use your maiden name professionally, but the more I think about it, the less I think so. Publication frequently involves contracts between you and the publisher, including agreements about copyright, etc.  I would guess that the hassle involved in explaining to every publisher (not to mention school/employer) you work with that your legal name is different than the name you submit under would be really frustrating.

Honestly, I doubt that it's that big of a deal. For example, the moniker "J.K. Gibson-Graham" was used by two authors for many years and they published books and articles with it, though it's an amalgamation of their two names and not the proper name of either. My guess is that it's less of a hassle than you might think, in part because it's something they likely deal with frequently. Sometimes there's even a space when submitting a manuscript to list your real name (for the contract) and the author's names for the publication (as in, the names that will be published) separately. So, I wouldn't let a potentially nonexistent headache swing my decision one way or the other.

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