Procedure for Name Change after Marriage in India
India, known to be a land of never-ending traditions and customs, and mostly those which are meant for women, has had a tradition to give up on a woman's maiden name and adopt that of her husband's. Some communities in India have gone to the extent of changing a woman's first name as well, after she gets married, which in effect completely wipes out her identity before marriage.
However, contrary to popular belief and the prevailing customs in India, the Indian law gives the freedom of choice to women to retain their maiden name even after marriage. There is no provision of law which mandates a woman to change her name after marriage which makes it clear beyond doubt that the option resides completely with the woman herself. This has been affirmed by the court of law recently wherein it was held that a woman had the right to define her own identity, and her name being her biggest identity. The exercising of the option to change your name or not after marriage, should be solely a womans decision, and she should not blindly follow the traditions unquestioningly.
Moreover, as per a recent amendment in September 2011 to a crucial rule framed under the Family Courts Act, 1988, if a woman has not adopted her husband’s name after marriage, she can initiate divorce proceedings in her maiden name or any other name that has been adopted and notified in the official gazette and cannot be compelled to add her husband’s name to her name while filing a marriage related petition. On the other hand, even after divorce, if the woman desires to continue with her husband’s name, there is no restriction on that, unless of course she does so with an intention to defraud him. Many women prefer to stick to their husband’s name even after divorce due to the cumbersome procedure of getting the name changed in all legal documents like passports, ration cards, voter identity cards, driving license and other official documents and also because the children might be using the husband’s surname.
So with the law on name changing being clear, and if you do decide to change your name after marriage, it can be done so by getting the changed name published in the official gazette. This can be done by submitting a form for name change to the Department of Publications (Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India) which is then published in the Gazette of India Notifications. For accurate guidelines and the format, please access this link: Guidelines for change of name for majors