Blending Surnames at Marriage

42 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2019 Last revised: 5 Jul 2019

See all articles by Hannah Haksgaard

Hannah Haksgaard

University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law

Date Written: June 24, 2019


In most states, marrying couples are severely limited in their surname choices at the time of marriage. While recent scholarship has focused on men’s limited surname choices, other important problems with the marital surname process exist. For example, the increasingly popular decision to blend surnames — taking parts of both current surnames to create an entirely new surname — is generally not allowed. Four states explicitly allow for surname blending on the marriage license, and three more allow for any surname to be adopted. This article argues the remaining states should follow suit by allowing surname blending and other surname options. In addition to providing too few surname options, in most states the current system creates ambiguities and problems because marriage licenses fail to reflect the married surname of either spouse. This article argues that states should update marriage licenses to include the surname a marrying couple chooses to adopt as the marital name.

Keywords: surname, marriage, marriage license, name change, maiden name, married name

Suggested Citation

Haksgaard, Hannah, Blending Surnames at Marriage (June 24, 2019). 30 Stanford Law & Policy Review 307 (2019), Available at SSRN:

Hannah Haksgaard (Contact Author)

University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law ( email )

414 East Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069
United States


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