An alternative to marriage

The economic uncertainty brought about by the recent recession and the government’s cuts to public services has resulted in many cohabitating couples saving or postponing the expense of getting married, or entering into a civil partnership, by one of the couple changing their surname to their partner’s surname by Deed Poll.

In particular, during the past two years, we have seen a huge increase in the number of cohabitating unmarried women changing their surname to their partner’s surname and changing their title to Mrs to give the appearance (by name and title) that they are married. There is nothing wrong with doing this and thousands of women have done so. With over 25 per cent of children now born to cohabitating couples in the United Kingdom, many consider all family members sharing the same surname essential for feeling part of the family unit.

It is important to bear in mind that changing your surname to your partner’s surname does not change your marital status, neither does it change the legal position between you and your partner. Although the government is looking at giving cohabitating couples the same legal rights as married couples and civil partners, until the law changes, couples living together have hardly any rights compared with married couples and civil partners.

Similarly, changing your title does not change your marital status. If you are a single woman and you change your title to Mrs, your marital status remains as single.

So, contrary to this article’s title, from a legal point of view changing your surname to your partner’s surname is not an alternative to marriage. For information and advice about your legal rights as a single person living with your partner, we recommend you click on this link (opens new window) to read the publication Living Together published by the independent organisation AdviceNow. We believe it is important that you understand your legal position and rights.

If you decide to change your name (and title), please click on this link (opens new tab) to read a summary of the Deed Poll process and the ways you can apply to us for your Deed Poll documentation.