At the wedding, both partners can decide what their name is. Not easy. Because there are several options when choosing your surname. What is allowed - and what is forbidden.
After the "yes" word, married couples have to decide: What should the surname be?
Both agree: we want to get married. But after saying “I do”, the next decision is already to be made: What should the surname be?
Common surname is not compulsory
"Spouses are not obliged to set a common surname," says a spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.
Keep maiden name, set married name
In other words, both partners can keep their maiden names if they so choose. "You should then choose a married name," recommends the ministry spokeswoman. In this way, you determine which surname possible common children will have later.
Married name may come from a previous marriage
This can be the maiden name of the woman or the man. The couple announces their decision at the registry office. "The official certifies this with a signature and stamp," explains Aline Klett from Stiftung Warentest. Only then is the specified married name legally valid. Good to know: It can even come from a previous marriage. "If, for example, a woman marries a second time and determines the name she brought with her with her new partner as the married name, then the former husband has to accept this," emphasizes Klett.
A common double name is not possible
The partner whose last name was not chosen as the married name can make a further decision. He can prefix or add his own name to the married name. It doesn't matter whether it was his maiden name or his last name at the time of marriage. Such a compound name is only possible for one partner. Because married couples cannot choose a common double name, explains the ministry spokeswoman.
Only one of the spouses is allowed to add maiden names
An example illustrates this: Mrs. Schwarz and Mr. Weiss are getting married. You can now consider whether your family name should be "Black" or "White". In this case, both choose the man's maiden name - that is, "White". The woman can also call herself “black and white” or “white and black”. No matter how she decides, her husband will keep his last name.
Double names may not be linked
A stringing together of more than two individual surnames is also not permitted. For example, if Mr. Schmitz-Becker and Ms. Müller-Meier marry, the name Schmitz-Becker-Müller-Meier is forbidden. "After a coupling for a married name is over," emphasizes Klett. The situation is different with family names that only consist of several words. The ministry spokeswoman names two examples: “Metz am Broich” or “from Siepen”. An accompanying name could be added to such names - "Müller-aus dem Siepen" would therefore be possible.
The double name does not have to be used in everyday life
Anyone who receives a double name through marriage does not necessarily have to use it in everyday life. In private correspondence or on the room sign in the company, Ms. Müller-Meier can continue to use her maiden name “Müller”, for example. She only has to use the double name if an authority cannot unequivocally determine the identity of her person.
Change of name after divorce or death of the partner
If the marriage is dissolved through divorce or death, there are several options: The divorced or widowed partner can keep his surname, accept his maiden name again or add to the married name. This is done by adding either his maiden name or the name he used when determining the married name to the continued married name. He must inform the registry office of the decision and submit a corresponding certified declaration there, which is subject to a fee.
Change of name is difficult in Germany
Otherwise you can only change your surname to a limited extent in Germany. Apart from marriage, divorce or death: "In the vast majority of cases you have to come to terms with the fact that you are called what you are called," says the Berlin lawyer Norbert Bierbach. The statement “I don't like my last name anymore” is by no means sufficient as a reason. "There must always be an important reason for changing the surname," emphasizes Bierbach.
Change of name only in case of mental illness
The person concerned would have to prove that the continuation of the name is unreasonable for them. Because the name was also borne by prominent Nazi henchmen. You can usually only discard a name if you suffer psychologically from it.
Submit an application for a name change to the district office
For example, has someone just turned 18 and had a bad experience with their stepfather? Then a psychological report can prove that he is suffering under the name of the stepfather to such an extent that he is mentally ill. In such cases, an application for a name change must be submitted to the competent name change authority of the place of residence. The cost of changing your name varies depending on the state.
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