Tuesday, 23 February 2010

one minor breakthrough

Since wondering aloud whether to remarry or find another way around the maiden/married name passport shemozzle back here, I decided the best solution was to revert to my maiden name. Which, in case you're wondering, is the name you know me by: Johnson.

I started by making a list of all the places I'd have to change my name and tried to ignore nagging thoughts of how much effort this was actually going to take, then figured the most sensible place to start would be with Vic Roads and my driver's licence. After all, everyone wants photo ID.

Having some experience with the reality of their waiting room, I called to find out exactly what documentation I'd need to take, because their website suggests I should get divorced first and hence, doesn't offer the most appropriate advice. After half a day of sporadic dialling, I got through to a customer service person who seemed to actually offer what was promised in his title: customer service.

Even so, I wasn't thrilled with his answer. According to their guidelines, I'd need a birth certificate and one form of photo ID. I offered my 18-months-expired passport, and after he said no, asked why the marriage certificate they'd used to change it in the first place, combined with whatever other ID I had in my married name wouldn't do the trick. I also suggested my licence used to be in my maiden name, and after he confirmed that, agreed that their guidelines were a little odd. His eventual advice was to take everything to a branch and try my luck, no promises, although I had the feeling that if I got someone like him, I would get lucky. He also said I'd have more chance if I could get something else changed first, like a credit card.

As our bank prides itself on being old-fashioned in the ways of customer service and knowing that my account has a note on it to state what my maiden name is so they'll accept cheques in that name (for the thousands I make from my writing), I figured the bank was a sure bet. I dropped in this afternoon, just to ask what I'd need.

But guess what? They wanted a divorce certificate.

At home, I called the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages for advice. The lovely man thought Vic Roads and the bank were being ridiculous and told me what I already knew: I have the right to choose to use either my maiden name, my married name, or a combination of both. Unfortunately they don't have an actual document or web page that states this clearly, so I just had to keep trying. I did confirm that if worse came to worst, I could do a Change of Name from my maiden name to my maiden name, which seems even more ridiculous.

Because I have nothing better to do with my time, I called the bank, spoke to a supervisor, and repeated what the Births, Deaths and Marriages guy said as well as to suggest that their guidelines are probably put in place for events that happen frequently rather than for one-off situations. I pointed out too, that everyone had the same guidelines and someone had to go first.

I'm not sure she understood what I meant by that, but when I went in, she agreed I had enough documentation to make the change. Hurray.

There is a downside though, something (obvious) I hadn't thought about. She took my credit and cash cards so I'll have to avoid shopping until my new cards arrive. And when they do, I can treat myself to a visit to the Vic Roads waiting room.


Lisa said...

Having gone through this process recently myself I understand just how painful it can be.

It's okay for everyone to tell you that you can legally use your maiden name anytime...the problem is they don't tell you you have to jump through rings to do it...

Good luck with it all Tiggy!

Leonie said...

Don't mind me I'm just sitting quietly in the corner giggling away and ever so thankful I decided not to change my name in any way when I got married. Not that that stops mail coming to my house addressed in my husbands name but obviously meant for me....maybe I should just deliver it to my Mother-in-Law who does go by that name???
Chat with you Monday :-)

Tiggy Johnson said...

Thanks Lisa. now I know who to call when it really starts to P me off.

Leonie, if it's a bill, definitely pass it on to your MIL. Also, if you ever see me about to do something as stupid as taking my married name seems to have been, please try to stop me. Gently.