No. In fact, it is not uncommon nowadays for women to keep their last name, change it to a hyphenated version of their maiden name and their husband’s last name, or even change their maiden name to their middle name and take their husband’s last name. There are many options.

What are the Advantages to Keeping My Maiden Name?

For one, changing your name can be a hassle. In some states, if you decide to change your name after marriage, you have to change your name on your marriage certificate and pay the appropriate fees. Further, you need to change your name on all government issued IDs (including your passport, driver’s license, and social security card), as well as your credit cards, health cards, banking cards, insurance bills, utilities, etc. Keeping your maiden name can avoid that trouble.
 
Additionally, if you have a well-established career, especially if you’re self-employed, changing your last name can result in less name/brand recognition. If you decide to keep your maiden name, you won’t will not lose business or suffer name/brand recognition as a result of a name change.
 
Finally, some women find the practice of changing their last name to their husband’s an old custom that is no longer applicable in today’s society. Women were once considered their husband’s property and taking the husband’s last name reinforced this now antiquated and offensive tradition.

What are the Disadvantages to Keeping My Maiden Name?

There are some disadvantages to having a different last name than your husband’s last name.
 
First, couples who have different last names may have a more difficult time being processed by various government and business procedures because they typically process couples faster based upon a common last name. For example, married couples who have different last names flying together may find it more difficult to check-in together.
 
Second, if you have kids, there is no clear answer as to what last name your kids should take. If you decide to hyphenate yours and your kids’ last names, they may not keep it that way when they decide to get married or have children. Additionally, if your name is different than your children's last name, it can make travel, hospital visits, and even school pick-ups a hassle.
 
Finally, changing your last name can psychologically strengthen a relationship. Instead of two individuals with different names, you and your spouse become more of a unit if you share the same last name.

If I Change My Name, Will My Criminal Record Under My Maiden Name Be Expunged?

No. A name change does not get you out of legal trouble or help you evade prosecution. It does not give you a clean record or give you a new identity. If you are attempting to change your name to avoid prosecution, you can get in further legal trouble. Keep in mind that when you change your name, your social security number does not change and will follow you for the rest of your life.

Are There Any Other Legal Considerations?

If you decide to change your name, there are some legal considerations to take into account. First, you may have difficulty accessing your bank records under your maiden name, especially if your paperwork to change your name hasn’t processed, or you don’t have your new government issued identification with your new name. In that case, take your name change paperwork with you to the bank.
 
In addition, if you entered into a contract using your maiden name, you may need to provide proof of your new name and that you are the same person. This is especially true if you intend to change the terms of the contract or if you wish to enforce the contract.

Do I Need to Consult a Lawyer to Change My Name After Marriage?

A knowledgeable family law attorney can ensure that you are filing the appropriate paperwork to begin changing your name. An attorney can also walk you through the process of changing all your identification and personal records. If you wish to change your child’s name, a family lawyer will be able to properly advise you.