Legal Name Change

Here’s an unusual enquiry:

I’m about to marry a Taiwanase woman. Before I do so, however, I want to change my legal name.

I’ve checked with the local court back home (US - Wisconsin), but as I’ve been a resident of Taiwan for several years, I’m no longer considered a legal resident there, so I can’t pursue the name change through that venue.

It is possible for an American to change his legal name through the Taiwan courts. If so, can this then be used to force a legal name change back home?

Lee Kaiwen
Chiayi, Taiwan

You have not really stated your situation clearly. What is your status in Taiwan? I get the preliminary impression that you are a single-nationality US citizen here on a US passport? Is that correct? Do you have an ARC?

If you have an ARC, why not just change your Chinese name? Wouldn’t that accomplish what you want to do? Since you haven’t stated the reason for applying for a name change, I can only assume that it is the standard Taiwan reason – superstition???

I’m an American national, single currently, but I will be marrying shortly (Lee Kaiwen is my adopted Chinese name). I have an ARC, and currently am in Taiwan on a 1 year resident visa; once we’re married, I’ll be applying for a JFRV. After we’re married, we plan either to stay in Taiwan or relocate to the mainland. In either case, we will not be returning to the States.

I wish to adopt my mother’s maiden surname for personal reasons – as a tribute to my much beloved grandparents, who passed away recently, and because I grew up amongst my mother’s family, never having had any contact with my father or his family.

I actually began the process once years ago, but all the filing fees and court fees and application fees exceeded the resources of a poor college student. Now that I’m about to get married and (Lord willing) start a family, I’d like to complete the process.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be completed before we’re married, I suppose, as my fiancee will be keeping her name anyway; it just seems like it would be simpler. Perhaps I’ll have more legal traction with a JFRV?

(I’m also considering changing my Chinese name, but that’s trivial as it’s not legal yet.)

Lee Kaiwen

It might be worth the effort to check again with the Court just to make certain of the legal meaning of “residence” as it is used in the relevant Wisconsin statute. It is possible that the term “resident” means “domiciled” in the statute and that the court official with whom you spoke misundersood your situation.

Do you vote in Wisconsin? Do you pay taxes in Wisconsin? Do you have a Wisconsin drivers license?

In case you haven’t seen this: … consin.htm

If you were once a resident of Wisconsin and never changed that, you would still be considered a Wisconsin resident. I don’t think you can “lose” residency except by actively changing it to another state or territory. Sorry I don’t have time to look up the laws on the subject.

What if you are a U.S. citizen, but have never lived in the United States? What state are you considered a resident of?

If none, does that mean you’re not allowed to change your name on your passport? Or do they recognize other countries’ courts? Just a basic legal situation I’ve always wondered about in other contexts (like, if an Arab has four wives and moves to the U.S., which of his marriages are recognized?).