Monday, May 27, 2024

Name Change After Marriage: USA Norms for Nigerian Couples

Last Updated on January 28, 2024


Name change after marriage is a common practice where a person changes their last name after getting married.

It is important for Nigerian couples to understand the norms in the USA regarding name change. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of these norms.

A brief explanation of name change after marriage

Name change after marriage refers to the practice of a person changing their last name to their spouse’s last name upon getting married. This tradition has been followed for centuries in many cultures worldwide.

The importance of understanding USA norms for Nigerian couples

For Nigerian couples planning to live in the USA, it is important to understand the norms surrounding name change after marriage.

This knowledge can help them navigate legal requirements, social expectations, and maintain cultural identity.

Purpose of the blog post

The purpose of this blog post is to provide Nigerian couples with a clear understanding of the USA norms regarding name change after marriage.

It will outline the legal process, social implications, and potential challenges that may arise. By providing this information, the blog post aims to empower Nigerian couples to make informed decisions about their names and identity after marriage.

Basically, understanding the USA norms for name change after marriage is crucial for Nigerian couples.

This blog post will serve as a guide to help them navigate this aspect of their journey and make decisions aligned with their personal preferences and cultural values.

Name Change Traditions in Nigeria

An overview of traditional Nigerian beliefs and practices

  1. Nigeria is a country in West Africa known for its rich cultural heritage.

  2. Names hold great significance in Nigerian culture, representing identity, heritage, and spirituality.

  3. Traditionally, Nigerians believe that names have the power to influence a person’s destiny.

  4. Names are often chosen based on factors such as the day of the week a child is born, the circumstances surrounding their birth, or names of ancestral lineage.

  5. People in Nigeria generally believe that changing one’s name can alter their destiny or disrupt the spiritual connection with their ancestors.

  6. Names are deeply revered in Nigeria and changing one’s name is not taken lightly.

Common name change customs in Nigeria

  1. Marriage is one of the main occasions where a name change may occur in Nigeria.

  2. Traditionally, Nigerian women take on their husband’s last name after marriage.

  3. This custom signifies the woman’s transition from her father’s family to her husband’s family.

  4. Name changes may also occur during significant life events such as birth, initiation ceremonies, or religious conversions.

  5. In some cases, a person may choose to adopt a new name to reflect a change in status or to align with personal beliefs.

  6. It is important to note that the decision to change one’s name is a personal choice and not mandatory.

Cultural significance of name changes in Nigeria

  1. Changing one’s name in Nigeria is seen as a way to maintain cultural and religious traditions.

  2. Names hold spiritual and ancestral connections, so name changes may be seen as a form of respect or acknowledgement.

  3. These traditions are deeply rooted in Nigerian society and reflect the importance of family and community.

  4. By changing their name, individuals can honor their heritage while also embracing new roles and responsibilities.

  5. Name changes can also serve as a way to forge new identities and express personal beliefs or aspirations.

Generally, name change traditions in Nigeria are deeply ingrained in the culture, reflecting the significance of names and their connection to identity, spirituality, and heritage.

While name changes commonly occur during marriage, they can also take place during other important life events.

These customs are cherished and seen as a way to maintain cultural and religious traditions while also allowing individuals to embrace new roles and responsibilities.

Read: Tying the Knot: Differences Between US and Nigerian Ceremonies

Name Change Traditions in the USA

A brief explanation of the name change customs in the USA

  1. Name change after marriage is a common tradition in the United States.

  2. Typically, women take their husband’s last name and adopt it as their own.

  3. This practice is a way to signify the union and commitment between spouses.

  4. It also symbolizes the transition from being single to being married.

Historical perspective on women changing their last names after marriage

  1. The tradition of women changing their last names after marriage dates back centuries.

  2. It originated from the common law doctrine of coverture, where a married woman’s legal rights were subsumed by her husband.

  3. Women were considered the property of their husbands and took their husband’s last name as a sign of ownership and belonging.

  4. This practice reinforced the patriarchal systems and gender roles prevalent in society.

Common reasons why people change their names in the USA

  1. Marriage: As mentioned earlier, many women choose to take their husband’s last name as a symbol of their commitment and union

  2. Divorce: Some individuals may choose to revert to their previous last name after a divorce to reclaim their identity.

  3. Personal preference: People have the right to change their names for personal reasons, such as disliking their given name or wanting to honor a family member.

  4. Career considerations: In certain professions, individuals may change their names to create a stage name or protect their privacy.

  5. Blended families: In cases where families combine through marriage or adoption, changing last names can help create a sense of unity.

Pros and cons of name changes

  1. Symbolizes a new chapter in one’s life.

  2. Promotes a sense of unity and togetherness in marriage.

  3. Can create a stronger sense of identity and belonging.
  1. Can be seen as reinforcing patriarchal traditions and gender inequality.

  2. May cause confusion and complications in legal and professional settings.

  3. Some individuals may feel a loss of personal identity by changing their names.

Overall, name-change customs in the USA have evolved over time, reflecting societal changes and individual choices.

While many couples still choose to take the husband’s last name, there is also a growing trend of individuals keeping their own last names or hyphenating their names.

Ultimately, the decision to change one’s name should be a personal choice, based on individual preferences and beliefs.

Read: The Role of Witnesses in US Marriages: What Nigerians Should Know

Nigerian Couples in the USA

Challenges faced by Nigerian couples regarding name change in the USA

  1. Legal complexities: Nigerian couples in the USA face challenges due to the legal procedures involved in changing their names.

  2. Administrative hurdles: Navigating through the bureaucracy of name change processes can be overwhelming for Nigerian couples.

  3. Compatibility issues: Nigerian couples might face challenges in finding a suitable name that reflects their cultural heritage while adhering to US norms.

  4. Documentation requirements: Nigerian couples must gather and submit various documents to prove their eligibility for a name change.

Factors influencing name change decisions among Nigerian couples

  1. Personal identity: Nigerian couples consider name change decisions based on the desire to establish a unified family identity.

  2. Social acceptance: Cultural pressure from Nigerian communities in the USA may influence couples’ decisions regarding name changes.

  3. Career implications: Nigerian couples contemplate the impact of name changes on their professional lives and networking opportunities.

  4. Gender dynamics: Nigerian couples may navigate traditional gender roles and expectations when making name change decisions.

Cultural considerations when contemplating name changes in a different country

  1. Family traditions: Nigerian couples must consider how name changes align with their family’s cultural traditions and values.

  2. Community perception: Nigerian couples may contemplate how their community views name changes and the potential impact on their relationships.

  3. Religious beliefs: Couples may be influenced by religious teachings regarding name changes and the sanctity of marriage.

  4. Sense of belonging: Nigerian couples consider whether a name change will help them feel connected to their Nigerian culture while living in a different country.

In general, Nigerian couples in the USA face challenges when it comes to name change decisions.

They must navigate legal complexities, administrative hurdles, and compatibility issues while considering factors such as personal identity, social acceptance, career implications, and gender dynamics.

Additionally, cultural considerations play a significant role in determining whether Nigerian couples choose to change their names in a different country.

By understanding these challenges and factors, Nigerian couples can make informed decisions that align with their cultural heritage and personal desires.

Read: The Cost of Getting a Marriage Certificate in the USA

Name Change After Marriage: USA Norms for Nigerian Couples

Legal Processes for Name Change in the USA

Different methods and options are available for changing names in the USA

  1. When it comes to changing names in the USA, there are a few different methods and options available. One common way is through a marriage certificate.

  2. Another option is by obtaining a court order, which requires filing a petition and attending a court hearing.

  3. Some states also allow a name change through a simplified process known as a common law name change, where the person simply starts using the new name without any legal documentation.

State-specific regulations and requirements for name changes

  1. Each state in the USA has its own regulations and requirements for name changes. It is important to consult the specific laws of the state where the name change is being sought.

  2. In general, most states require filing a petition with the court, providing a valid reason for the name change, and publishing a notice of the name change in a local newspaper.

  3. Some states may also have additional requirements, such as obtaining consent from a spouse or going through a background check.

Legal implications and documentation necessary for a name change

  1. Changing a name legally has various legal implications and requires specific documentation. The most essential document is a court order or marriage certificate, depending on the method chosen.

  2. Other important documentation may include a valid ID, such as a driver’s license, social security card, and passport, which need to be updated with the new name.

  3. It is also necessary to notify various institutions and organizations, such as banks, employers, schools, and government agencies, about the name change and provide them with the required documentation.

Read: US Marriage Certificate: How it Impacts Immigration Status

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Practical Considerations for Nigerian Couples

Pros and Cons of Changing Names for Nigerian Couples in the USA


Embracing a new identity, cultural integration, convenience in legal and administrative matters.

  1. Embracing a new identity: Changing names allows Nigerian couples to adopt a shared identity as they start their marital journey in a new country.

  2. Cultural integration: Adopting an American surname can facilitate cultural integration and adaptability within American society.

  3. Convenience in legal and administrative matters: Changing names can simplify legal and administrative processes, such as obtaining documents and identification.


Losing ethnic identity, confusion in professional and personal relationships, and potential cultural disapproval

  1. Losing ethnic identity: Changing names may detach Nigerian couples from their cultural heritage, potentially leading to a loss of connection and identity.

  2. Confusion in professional and personal relationships: Altering names can lead to confusion among colleagues, friends, and family members who are accustomed to the previous identities.

  3. Potential cultural disapproval: Nigerian society traditionally places significant importance on familial and cultural ties, and changing names might face disapproval from relatives and community members.

Alternatives to Changing Names, such as Hyphenation or Keeping Maiden Names


  1. Combining both spouses’ surnames with a hyphen can preserve both identities.

  2. Hyphenating surnames offers a compromise that allows Nigerian couples to preserve both spouses’ original identities.

  3. For example, Ifeoluwa Adekunle and Chinedu Balogun can become Ifeoluwa Adekunle-Balogun.

Keeping maiden names

  1. Retaining the wife’s maiden name can maintain individuality and professional connections.

  2. Choosing to retain the wife’s maiden name provides Nigerian couples with the option to honor their individual identities.

  3. In this scenario, Ifeoluwa Adekunle would continue using her maiden name professionally and personally.

Cultural Expectations and Societal Opinions When Deciding on Name Changes

Consider cultural expectations

  1. Understand the significance of names within Nigerian culture and discuss any conflicts with American norms.

  2. Nigerian couples need to reflect upon the cultural significance of names within Nigerian traditions.

  3. Understanding how names symbolize lineage and family ties helps in making informed decisions.

Engage in open conversations

  1. Communicate with family and friends to address their opinions and manage potential conflicts.

  2. Having open conversations with family members and friends about the decision to change names can manage any potential conflicts and address concerns from loved ones.

Seek professional guidance

  1. Consult legal and immigration experts to navigate the complexities of changing names in the USA.

  2. Consulting legal and immigration experts can provide Nigerian couples with guidance on the legal processes and paperwork involved in changing names in the USA.

Reflect on personal preferences

  1. Ultimately, Nigerian couples should prioritize their own desires and comfort when making a decision about changing names.

  2. It is essential to consider the impact on personal identities and happiness within the marriage.

This section explores the pros and cons of changing names, alternative options, and navigating cultural expectations and societal opinions.

In short, Nigerian couples residing in the USA should carefully consider the practical aspects of name changes after marriage.

By weighing the pros and cons, exploring alternative options, and addressing cultural expectations and societal opinions, couples can make an informed decision that aligns with their values and aspirations.

Personal Stories and Experiences

Stories and anecdotes from Nigerian couples who have navigated name changes in the USA

  1. Emma and Chika, a Nigerian couple living in New York, decided to keep their original names after marriage.

  2. They believed that their names were an integral part of their identity and wanted to honor their Nigerian heritage.

  3. However, they faced challenges when it came to paperwork and administrative tasks, often experiencing confusion and delays.

  4. Despite these difficulties, Emma and Chika never regretted their decision and even inspired other Nigerian couples to embrace their names.

Diverse perspectives and outcomes regarding name change decisions

  1. Tolu and Ade, another Nigerian couple, decided to hyphenate their last names after marrying in California.

  2. They wanted to showcase their unity as a couple while also maintaining their individual identities.

  3. This decision sparked interesting conversations with family and friends, some supporting their choice while others questioned it.

  4. Tolu and Ade constantly remind people to respect their decision and understand the importance of personal autonomy.

Insights and lessons learned from others’ experiences

  1. Nkechi and Obi, a Nigerian couple in Texas, initially faced pressure to change their names to assimilate into American culture.

  2. They eventually realized that choosing to keep their Nigerian names was empowering and helped them celebrate their heritage.

  3. Nkechi and Obi encourage other Nigerian couples to have open conversations about name change decisions and prioritize personal happiness.

  4. Learning from these stories, it becomes clear that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to name changes for Nigerian couples in the USA.

  5. Each couple must navigate their own path, considering their values, cultural background, and individual preferences.

  6. It is essential to remember that a name holds immense significance and can be a symbol of personal identity and heritage.

Personal stories and experiences from Nigerian couples in the USA shed light on the complexities surrounding name change decisions.

Emma and Chika, Tolu and Ade, and Nkechi and Obi showcase the diverse perspectives and outcomes regarding this matter.

These stories provide valuable insights and lessons learned, emphasizing the importance of embracing one’s identity and prioritizing personal happiness.

Ultimately, each couple should make a decision that aligns with their values, culture, and individual desires.

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Recap of key points discussed in the blog post

  1. In the USA, it is common for women to change their last names after marriage.

  2. Some Nigerian couples also adopt this practice, while others keep their original names.

  3. The decision to change or keep a name should be made based on personal preferences and cultural values.

Importance of understanding USA norms for Nigerian couples considering name changes after marriage

  1. Knowing the cultural expectations and norms in the USA can help Nigerian couples navigate this decision.

  2. It can also prevent misunderstandings or conflicts with family, friends, and authorities in the USA.

  3. Understanding the legal processes and requirements in the USA is crucial for a seamless name change.

Encouragement to make informed decisions based on personal circumstances and cultural values

  1. Couples should consider factors such as career, identity, and family traditions when deciding on a name change.

  2. It is important to have open and honest discussions with one’s partner to find a solution that works for both individuals.

  3. Respecting and valuing one’s own cultural heritage is essential in making a decision about a name change.

Overall, whether a Nigerian couple chooses to change their name or not after marriage, it is crucial to be mindful of both USA norms and personal cultural values to make an informed decision.

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