By Maria Immaculate Owechi
When getting married, there are many decisions to be made. One of those is whether to adopt your husband’s name or maintain your birth surname. This can see couples conflicting in case they fail to agree on whether to add or change their names.
Mrs Ruth Kateregga, a bank teller shares that at first, she did not buy the idea of adopting her husband’s name.
“I thought about what would happen to my identity if our marriage was short-lived. In my heart though, I knew that nothing would make him happier than changing my name,” she reveals. After giving it serious thought, Kateregga settled with adding her husband’s name to hers. “ I did it in the name of love,” she concludes.
Esther Ainebyoona who got divorced last year says she refused to adopt her former husband’s name because it was not fancy and her friends always teased her about it.
“I am glad I did not change my name because as a divorcee now, I would be in the hassle of trying to change it back in documentation,” Ainebyoona shares.
When asked about his expectations, Patrick Busulwa, a lawyer who expects to get married one day says that he would really love his future wife to adopt his name so that they feel more like a family and for it to be an official symbol of the commitment they have made to each other.
For Antonio Otim, a sound Engineer with Watoto Church, worrying about name-changing was not an issue at all. His wife welcomed the idea without any hesitation even before he proposed to her.
“Sandra started finding out about the necessary paperwork before the wedding and immediately after our honeymoon, she ensured that all her documents reflected my name.”
Grace Namanya, a professional marriage counsellor with All Faith Church Ministries, Katwe emphasizes that for ladies whether they intend to change their name or not, many people will assume that they did and will begin to address you as Mrs so and so. True to her statement, Nalongo Elizabeth Ntambi has been married for 27 years and although her work documents still reflect her maiden names, she is famously known as Mukyala Ntambi in her social circles.
The process of legally changing a name
Just like Mrs Ntambi, many women use their husband’s names socially, while maintaining their maiden name on official documents. However, for those that would prefer to be legally recognised using their new marital acquired names, Sam Wanda, a lawyer with Taslaf Advocates & Consultants, shares with us the steps that need to be taken.
Wanda says the legal procedure of changing a name is provided for under, the Oaths Act (Cap 19), The Births and Deaths Registration Act (Cap 309) and The Registration of Documents Act (Cap 81) where any person desirous of changing his or her names can do so.
You need to find a lawyer to draft for you a deed poll stating the changes you are making, then sign the deed poll and swear by it. This has to be commissioned by the commissioner of oaths.
Thereafter, the deed poll is registered with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) in the documents register for record purposes.
The registered deed poll is thereafter taken to the Uganda Printing and Publishers Corporation (UPPC), the official publisher of the Uganda Gazette. Wanda adds that advertising in the Gazette is Shs 300,000.
There is also an option of the advertisement being placed on other newspapers in circulation.
Once this is verified, then you can go ahead and apply for this name in the different companies for your new name to be reflected on your banking details, social security cards, passport, identity cards, and work contracts among others.
Advantages of changing your name
There are some advantages as a result of a married couple sharing the same name, and these include the following.
Changing a name can create a feeling of indeed becoming one with your husband. It binds the family and is a way of creating a family identity.
Mrs Rose Mutesasira who took up her husband’s name says they ensured that even her three sons took up the same name.
“I feel proud when people refer to us as the Mutesasiras,” she reveals.
Disliking your surname
If in case you dislike your surname, this is the perfect excuse to start using your husband’s name instead.
Prossy Nakawuka, a boutique owner at Wandegeya who is soon to be married says she has never liked her surname and will gladly adopt her future husband’s name. She confides that he is a Briton and his name is way more cool. “Mrs Andersons…” she says excitedly, is the name she will acquire after she gets married.
But there are also some disadvantages that can come up such as:
In cases of divorce, the individual may be forced to change back to her former name because they feel uncomfortable and emotionally unstable to continue using their former husband’s name. To make it worse, people will easily notice that you are divorced once you stop using the name, causing unnecessary attention in an emotionally difficult time.
In 2018, former Bukedde TV presenter Fiona Kirabo married a one pastor Geoffrey Kayovu in a lavish ceremony. But the two went their separate ways barely a year into the marriage. Rumours of the broken marriage started being circulated by tabloids after they noticed that Kirabo’s Instagram page where she had formerly been using her husband’s name was changed back to her maiden name.
There are ladies that have become experts in their fields such as best-selling writers, journalists and business owners among others. They are easily identified by their birth names, therefore it may be difficult to change to another name because they stand to lose their audience if they change their brand name.
Recently, a local musician popularly known as Evelyn Lagu in a Facebook post asked her fans whether she should change her name or not. Evelyn explained that the name Lagu belonged to her former husband, who she divorced, yet most of her fans easily recognise her by that name.
Majority of those who replied advocated that she maintains her stage name since it is already a brand name and that she should just try to keep any emotional attachment away from it.
The long procedure of legal paperwork
There are some legal considerations to take into account when changing your name which may be a hassle that some ladies would rather not deal with. This starts with changing your work contracts, Social Security, driver’s license, and credit cards, among other things.
And therefore, they will prefer using their husband’s surname informally but for formal business opt to maintain their surname.