Getting married is a big step – so many changes! But does your name change too? Question that many people ask is “Can I change my last name when I get married or divorced?” Read on!
In Quebec, many people are surprised to find out that both spouses keep their last names after they get married. Each spouse must use the last name they were given at birth to exercise their civil rights, for example when you sign a contract or apply for a driver’s licence (https://www.justice.gouv.qc.ca/en/couples-and-families/marriage-civil-union-and-de-facto-union/marriage/married-name). This is specifically stipulated in section 393 of the Civil Code of Quebec.
Even if you married outside Quebec but you are domiciled in Quebec, you must exercise your civil rights using the last name you were given at birth.
However, in your social life you can, if you wish, use your spouse’s last name. So if you want to change your Instagram handle or invitations you are welcome to do so.
However, there is a way around this if it is important to you. In exceptional circumstances the Registrar of Civil Status may grant authorization for a married woman or man to change their name. The reasons recognized by the Quebec Registrar of Civil Status to change your name and take your spouse’s name when getting married are (http://www.etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/en/change-name.html#:~:text=Under%20the%20Civil%20Code%20of,only%20in%20an%20exceptional%20situation.):
The use, for 5 years or more, of a surname or given name not entered on the act of birth;
A name of foreign origin, too difficult to pronounce or write in its original form;
Serious prejudice or psychological suffering caused by the use of the name;
A name that invites ridicule or that is infamous (marked by disgrace, shame or humiliation);
The intention to add the surname of a child under 18 to the surname of the father or mother, or a part of it if it is a compound surname
Prior to the reform of the Civil Code of Quebec in 1994, the change of the women’s last name to that of her husband was automatic when you got married. However the reform brought forward, a new modern approach that the women’s identity should not automatically morph to that of her husbands. Therefore it was no longer automatic unless one of the above 5 situation applies to you.
Therefore, if you are a woman and married prior to April 2, 1981, you are entitled to use your spouse’s last name to exercise your civil rights, provided your were already doing so at that date. However, if you decide to exercise your civil rights under your own name, you must first notify the relevant departments and agencies.
WHAT ABOUT IF I GET DIVORCED?
Since both spouses keep their last names after they marry, divorce would not have any impact on a name change, except for in your social circles and/or if you have changed it with the director of civil status, then it will be changed back.
For any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to us!