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What’s in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would…

25 April 2007

…take seven forms to fill out for the Probate Court, filing fees (who knows how much that’ll be?), cross-country airfare to California to attend the Court Hearing (maybe), an eighth form to change the birth certificate, and a ninth form to change the Social Security card. Not to mention needing to change the passport. Just so that we could call a rose a &%$#& rose!

Maybe I should back up a little.

When we were engaged, the Consort and I had discussions about our name. My first thought was that we’d keep our own names. The Consort didn’t really like that idea. What would we do when we had kids? How would people find us in the phonebook? If we were a family, we should all have the same last name. He didn’t care what it was, I could choose what we’d be, but it should be the same. His arguments sounded reasonable to me. We also had to make a decision soon-ish because he was starting to get published, and he wanted people to be able to find all his previous published work easily.

At the time, I didn’t like hyphenated names (don’t ask me why; I was pigheaded that year). So, I suggested that we both change to FirstName MyName HisName. My maiden last name would become our middle names. Although the order would be flipped from traditional European last names (think Spanish: Jose Gallego y Cardenas. They also use a form of this for official documents in Belgium), both parts would be integral to our Selfhood.

Great. We subsequently have two kids. We use the same format: for example, Trixie MyName HisName.

Then, I noticed something. When I signed a document (a check, a letter, etc.), I would sign Imperatrix MyName HisName. That was the deal, right? We were going to use both parts. BUT. The Consort signed things Consort HisName. Because he didn’t use his middle name in his signature before we were married, so he wasn’t using it now.

WHAT THE HECK WAS THE USE OF CHANGING HIS MIDDLE NAME TO MINE, THEN, IF HE NEVER USED IT? I asked sweetly.

So, we changed to using the hyphenated version. We were known as the MyName-HisNames. I signed the girls up for school as MyName-HisName. When my wallet was stolen, I had to get a replacement Social Security card, and I brought in a copy of our marriage certificate. The new card said Imperatrix MyName-HisName. For some reason, the Consort needed a new SSN card. His new card said MyName-HisName. His passport says MyName-HisName (mine, being an EU passport, says MyName—whatev).

The girls’ SSNs, as well as their passports, say … HisName.

Now, I realize this is not such a big deal. But it is. When we travel, our seat assignments have to match our passports. When we switch school systems, they may give us a hard time. And remember, the deal I made with the Consort way back when was, we’d all have the same last name.

I decided that because we needed to renew their passports, this would be a fine time to get everything sorted out. This morning, I downloaded Social Security form SS-5, request for new card and/or new name, brought in their old passports, their current SSN cards, official report cards from school (where they are known as MyName-HisName), and their birth certificates.

Social Security won’t change their names.

The form is unclear, you see. It states that school documents are accepted as identity confirmation. Not, however, as legal name status. Sorry for being such a goober, but I thought that identity was legal name. And it isn’t like we’re wanting to change their name from Impera MyName HisName to Sunshine HappyGirl or somesuch. We just want to change Impera MyName HisName to Impera MyName-HisName. Just a HYPHEN change. All the parts are there. We aren’t kidnapping them from their birth parents. We. Just. Want. To Have. The. Same. Surname!

It looks like we’re going to have to renew their passports with just HisName. The passports are expiring in June, and it takes at least 7-8 weeks just to run the paperwork through Probate Court, before moving on to amending the birth certificate, then the SSN, then the passport. The California County Info Web site does not state in an easily accessible place what the court fees will be. Nor is there an easy FAQ bullet point about whether this is feasible to do from out of state. And whether our saying, “We goofed when we filled out the paperwork twelve years ago” will be enough excuse for them to allow a name change. (Not that my explanation eight paragraphs earlier would necessarily get a judge to grant the change, either.) And although the Web site says, “You probably don’t need a lawyer to change your child’s name,” I’d really like to know if, considering our out-of-state status, and the frivolous (not that I’d call it that, but the Court might) nature of the name change, it might be better to flush college savings down the drainhire a lawyer.

So, since finding this out earlier today, I have had two flour tortillas slathered with Boursin, and washed the snack down with a chocolate chip sandwich. As you can see, I’m taking this very well. *snort*

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