Church records should reflect the member's legal name. So when the member's name has legally changed, the name on the Church records should also be changed.
What makes a change of name legal, differs by jurisdiction. Many civil law jurisdictions require a change of name to be government approved. In common law jurisdictions a person can change their name with relative ease -- by simply starting to use a new name. It's perfectly legal as long as you disclose the change and don't attempt to deceive anyone.
There is no requirement that spouses share the same last name, that the wife take the husband's name, or that the last name be a single word.
If the name change is not a legal change, or represents a nickname or a name that may be temporary, it can be listed in MLS' preferred name field. Do not use this field for legal name changes.
Changing the legal name in MLS
Both the MLS program and the systems the Church uses currently support virtually any name the user needs to use.
After the requirements to change a legal name have been met:
- Log in to MLS.
- On the Membership Records menu, click Individual Record.
- Click on the member's name, and then click OK.
- In the individual screen, click Edit.
- Change the full name to the new legal name.
- Click Save. A screen with several options will appear.
- Select Verified Legal Name Change and click OK. This change will be transmitted to the administrative office during the next Send/Receive Changes.
- If your jurisdiction requires any kind of legal action to make a legal name change, ask (but don't require) the member if they wouldn't mind showing you the paperwork.
- Be proactive. Watch and listen for changes in people's preferred names or the names that they use at Church. These changes may represent legal name changes that the member doesn't realize need to be reflected in Church records.