In Quebec, the law provides that spouses retain their respective birth names when they are married (Section 393 of the Civil Code).
It has therefore not been possible to change your name after a religious or civil marriage since 1981.
However, in exceptional circumstances the Registrar of Civil Status may grant authorization for a married woman to change her name.
Recognized reasons for changing name after a marriage
The reasons recognized by the Quebec Registrar of Civil Status to change your name and take your spouse’s name when getting married are:
- your name is of foreign origin or too difficult to pronounce or write,
- your name is difficult to bear or brings ridicule,
- your name harms you by identifying you with another person,
- your name has a ridiculous connotation,
- the fact of using your own family name rather than that of your husband is contrary to your religious beliefs or prevents you from being recognized as his wife in another country.
In my legal consultations with future spouses, most of them are surprised to learn that the woman can no longer take the name of her husband or wife on the big day.
The most common example is that of Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. I explain that it is actually a public name that is used by the media and that she uses in society. Her official name used in legal life is indeed Sophie Grégoire.