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Can a Woman Keep her Surname after Marriage?

Adopting a new surnameHistorically, the expectation and indeed the norm was that a woman would assume the husband’s surname after marriage. Women did not even think twice about assuming her husband’s surname after marriage. As times are changing keeping the maiden name hyphenated with the husband’s surname is apparently a fad. Both in same-sex and opposite-sex marriages these days there isn’t any hard and fast rule anymore that the wife must assume the surname of her husband. It’s a moot point that modern married women who may be working professionals having to change their surnames by assuming their husband’s surname. Rather keeping their surnames after marriage maybe is a practical and rational choice rather than a compulsion based on custom.Undeniably assuming the husband’s surname after marriage is indeed a lot of hassle in the sense that married women have to change their surnames on all of their government IDs including Aadhar card, PAN card, Voter ID so on and so forth which women of this day and age intend to avoid. Women could not voice their opinion probably until a few decades ago. They were more docile as men played a dominant role in society. They had to submit to the diktats of custom or tradition. With times changing though, these days both opposite-sex and same-sex marriages have several options and they are as follows:Women can assume the last name of their husbands Women can keep their maiden namesThe maiden name of a wife can be hyphenated along with the surname of the husbandA new surname that is a fusion of the surnames of both the spouses could be created and can be used by both spousesSpouses may prefer keeping their own surnames but their children’s surnames can be hyphenated The run-up to marriage is fraught with making decisions. There are numerous decisions on the anvil namely the color scheme, the food, and the venue. Decisions need to be made after the marriage as well. One of those vital decisions to be made is whether or not the woman would assume the surname of her husband or keep her maiden name after marriage. Recent reports indicate that a vast majority of brides tend to take the husband’s surname after marriage while the remaining opt to either retain their maiden name or opt to hyphenate which is the case for same-sex couples as well. A survey revealed that female couples more than their male counterparts preferred to assume the name of their male spouse after marriage.The question invariably is whether a name change is right or wrong. There isn’t a right answer working for everyone and one has to consider several aspects to assume the name of one’s partner.Name Change through Common UsageIt's entirely the discretion of the wife as to whether or not the wife would assume the surname of her husband. However, if the wife decides on changing his/her surname one can through “common usage” fairly easily. The wife historically had this option of adopting her husband’s surname.Although common usage name changes in instances of same-sex marriages, ought to be valid, however as same-sex marriage adds a relatively new dimension to marital bonding, one may have to get a name change ordered by the court.For legal validation of a name change by applying the common usage method the steps to follow are:A copy of one’s marriage certificate as proof of name changeAn updated driver’s license against a copy of one’s marriage certificateGet a new Aadhar card/PAN card/Voter ID card with one’s new surname against one’s marriage certificate, andUpdating any bank, insurance, passport, or employer records against one’s marriage certificateThis process can be completed relatively easily if the new surname after marriage reflects on one’s marriage certificate. If one already has children or having children is in the works then one might as well change one’s name so as to have a single-family name for all family members. However, if a new surname different from the surname of the other spouse is to be used by a spouse, the spouse intending a name change would have to undergo the official name change ordered by the court. If there is malafide intention of committing fraud or concealing an identity then a name change is undesirable and can be prevented in some jurisdictions.Name Change through a Court OrderA court-ordered name change in comparison with the common usage name change though is complicated is by far simpler to complete. In the vast majority of cases, a request for a name change has to be submitted along with an order proposal to be reviewed and signed by a judge.In all likelihood, a judge may set a date for the hearing of one’s case ensuring that one's request for the name change is not, in fact, a malafide intention of committing fraud.  Once the order has been received with one’s request granted, one has to undergo the common usage process for changing one’s name on one’s driver’s license, Aadhar Card, PAN Card and Voter ID card. ?Rather than provide a copy of one’s marriage certificate, submitting the certified copy of the name change court order is the requirement. If you need any professional advice, speak to an expert lawyer on a name change after marriage at Vidhikarya.

Posted By

Avik Chakravorty

4 weeks ago

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What Happens When Court Notice Is Not Received?

In civil proceedingsIf anyone is unresponsive to a summons also known as legal notice the court would respond by or the course of action of the court would be initiating ex parte legal proceedings which would entail the plaintiff proving his claim through the legal procedure as well as by evidencing supporting his claim. The Indian courts though usually provide yet another chance to the person unresponsive to a summons by resending it.     Summons according to a civil lawyer are of two types; firstly; normal summons if the other party resides or is doing business in the local jurisdiction of the court in which case the court notice would be sent via process server medium who is essentially a court employee with summoning responsibility. None other than he himself would deliver the summons and make a note on the reverse of the summons copy for the court’s review and consideration. Secondly, if the party happens to live outside the court’s jurisdiction then dasti legal notice is a provision which means hand delivery of court notice wherein the party itself ought to ensure that the summons is delivered presenting proof of mode of delivery; a delivery slip of post office for example and evidencing delivery in court.    In criminal proceedingsCriminal proceedings rule is stricter with the court issuing bailable or nonbailable warrant should the person not respond to a legal notice. In India though, a bailable warrant is usually issued by the court at first in which case the person summoned is required to give a bail guarantee and he is duty-bound to be present in court on the mentioned date in the warrant. In the case of a non-bailable warrant, there would be arraignment of the person and the person would be presented in the court or in other words, court appearance of the person would be arranged by the police.In case of summons in a civil case, people filing the case as plaintiffs and the opponents are defendants, the plaintiff’s position is stronger and there is a strong possibility that an ex-parte order would benefit the plaintiff. In the case of criminal summons, the court would probably issue bailable as well as a non-bailable warrant against the defendant. The court may even proclaim the defendant to be an absconder and an offender, with notice published in a newspaper and as if this wasn’t enough, the court may even have a lien on the property.No response from a person to a court notice would result in the court issuing an arrest warrant against the person. In extreme cases, lookout notice may be issued as well.If you want to consult further with a top lawyer on what might be the consequences of not responding to a court notice or not receiving a court notice get in touch with Vidhikarya Legal Services

Posted By

Avik Chakravorty

1 month ago

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  • What is civil law?
  • What is the procedure of a civil case in India?
  • What are the main features of civil laws?
  • How to file a case of civil matter?
  • Where to file a suit of civil matter?

What is civil law?


Procedural laws prescribe procedure for the enforcement of rights and liabilities. Effect of substantive laws to a large extent depends on the quality of procedural laws. The governing law for Civil Procedural Laws is the ‘Code of Civil Procedure, 1908’. The object of the code is to consolidate and amend laws relating to the procedure of Courts of Civil judicature, it is to facilitate justice.

“A procedural law is always sought in aid of justice, not in contradiction or to defeat the very object which is sought to be achieved. A procedural law is always subservient to the substantive law. Nothing can be given by a procedural law what is not sought to be given by a substantive law and nothing can be taken away by the procedural law what is given by the substantive law.” – SC in Saiyad Mohd Bakar v. Abdulhabib Hasan (1998) 4 SCC 343 at p. 349.

Some features of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908:


  • This Act is applicable to whole of India except the state of Jammu & Kashmir AND the state of Nagaland and the tribal areas
  • Since the aim of procedural laws is to supplement substantive laws and the relevant statutes, at instances of dispute b/w CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, 1908 and a specialised statute, the special law gains prominence over CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, 1908; however, at instances of a general law’s silence on a matter the applicable provisions of CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, 1908 become applicable.
  • There are two major parts in CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, 1908. 1st part is ‘The Body of the Code’ which comprises of 12 parts consisting of 158 sections, and the 2nd part is comprised of the Schedule which contains orders & rules.
  • When a court adjudicates a dispute, it either dismisses the case or provides for a decree. Decree is the expression of an adjudication which conclusively determines the rights of the parties, Judgement refers to the grounds for this decision. Order is a decision of the court which is not a decree. All Decrees are Orders however all Orders are not Decrees.
  • CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, 1908 recognizes 4 primary types of jurisdictions, they are the; territorial jurisdiction, pecuniary jurisdiction, jurisdiction over subject matter, and the Original & Appellate Jurisdiction.
  • As per Section 10 of CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, 1908, no court should entertain a suit if it is pending before a competent court under the same title and between the same parties.
  • Courts in the interest of justice, may exercise discretionary powers. This is known as the ‘Inherent powers of the Court’.
  • Section 89 of CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, 1908 refers to Mediation

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