Never Getting Divorced

We have a bank account with the Bank That Owns Everything. An added wrinkle is that this account was opened in Texas. When we moved here, we were told that California is Special, and we’d need to close the Texas account and open a new one in this state if we wanted to use the ATM to make deposits — except that we’d lose the long-time customer privileges that we had with the current account. The only other hitch to keeping the Texas account is that any time we need to make a change with the account, we are transferred a zillion times from representative to representative until we are connected with the appropriate person in Texas.

I called the Bank ahead of time to ask what I needed to do to change my name on the account from Kathryn Petro-Harper to Kathryn P. Harper and was told a visit to a branch bank with an I.D. would be enough. So I went in and said, “I want the account to reflect my name as it is legally on my Social Security card and driver’s license. I want to drop the hyphen and use an initial instead of my full middle name.” I was told I had to come back with a copy of my marriage license. I said the marriage license was irrelevant and actually showed me listed by my maiden name, and iterated that I had several forms of identification that sufficed, and that I’d been told by their staff this would be enough. The Customer Service Drone repeatedly said, “You need to bring the marriage certificate. These aren’t legal documents.”

So I had to turn into the customer I dislike: the one who won’t go away, take a lame excuse for an answer, who requests to speak to a manager because she smells bullshit and doesn’t want to get any on her. I said I had arranged for a babysitter and that I was not leaving until my request was fulfilled. I didn’t get rude, but the situation became a little tense.

I walked out having negotiated the following (through the California Customer Service Person who spoke with a Texas Customer Service Person and wouldn’t let me speak with him directly): they would drop the hyphen but said they had to keep Petro on the account legally, though I could have our checks reprinted using the initial. Never mind the fact that when I was put on the account in 2004, I was unmarried and signed on the account as Kathryn M. Petro using my driver’s license as proof of identification. In 2005, they did need a copy of the marriage license to drop the M. and make it Petro-Harper (as did Social Security and CA DMV but once those records are amended this should be enough). So what changed in two years? (Please don’t attempt to answer that.)

Anyhow, I now need to do this or something like it with all my financial accounts, medical records, library cards, online shopping accounts, the IRS, our will and trust, friends, family, etc. (I’m fortunate that family and friends won’t require identification before accepting this news.) So I called Husband and told him we were never going to divorce, because this is the second time I’ve gone through the process and never will again. He laughed. Oh, foolish me, that I didn’t foresee this change of heart and mind once I became a mother!

So again, to reiterate: I am no longer using Petro-Harper as my surname. Now it is, simply, Harper. A fine name it is!

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5 Comments on “Never Getting Divorced”

  1. Mark Says:

    What I found most interesting in the process is when we got married and changed our names (we did it separate for a variety of reasons), she called the credit card company – they made the changes no problem, no documentation required. When we called Southwest for our *frequent flier card*, they wanted a official copy of the name change mailed to them before they would change it.

  2. Emy Says:

    Jiminy Christmas…it’s a HYPEN. None of the names are changing. I mean, they sort of are – what was in the lastname field was Petro-Harper, and now the lastname field will be Harper. Still…a driver’s license and a Social Security card ARE legal documents. They serve as proof of your right to work in the US – and for that, the driver’s license is your PROOF OF IDENTITY. W, if I may be so bold as to ask, TF?

    I hate people. 😛

  3. Gannet Girl Says:

    How times change. When I married 33 years ago and did not change my name, one issue was that certain “authorities” — the Board of Elections, for instance –would read wedding announcements and drop you from the rolls. This came to light when another woman who had not changed her name went to vote and discovered that she was no longer registered. In my case, the IRS tried to change my name for me.

    So – a generation ago, everyone is eager to undertake on your behalf a change that you do not want to make, and today they refuse to make a change that you do want in the absence of a cascade of proof of same.

    Good luck. Your dd is absolutely gorgeous.

  4. M Sinclair Stevens Says:

    When I first married at 19, I decided to change, not just my last name but all three of my names. I did by going to court. When I divorced, my lawyer asked me if I wanted to “drop” my married name. And I smiled. It wouldn’t be that easy.

    Because I changed my entire name, I don’t think of it as my married name. It is my adult name, my legal name, my professional name. My family still call me by my family name…the one I grew up with. I’m remarried now and people often address my as Mrs. Moffat, which I’m not, or Mrs. Stevens–which I’m really not.

    Like you, what was most important to me was to have the same last name as my child, which I do.

  5. Eden Says:

    After your uterus has been rented, your tolerance for bullshit goes up in smoke. Amazing, isn’t it? 😉