Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam...
November 9, 2010 12:27 PM   Subscribe

We secretly got married a few months before our wedding. Who do we need to tell? We're in Pennsylvania.

My biggest worry is payroll/insurance. As the female half, I've chosen to change my name. So far, I've only changed my driver's license. Am I OK to wait for a few months (beginning of next year) to change my SS info and payroll, or will my taxes be a screwy? I'm trying to avoid telling my coworkers that we did a secret shotgun wedding. Do I need to notify payroll of my status change if nothing but my name is changing? I don't want to get into trouble. Help!
posted by your mom's a sock puppet to Law & Government (10 answers total)
Get in trouble with whom?

Why not wait to change your name until after the 2nd wedding?
posted by k8t at 12:31 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

As far as taxes are concerned: If you are planning on filing jointly then your taxes will act as if you've been married for all of 2010. Your withholding amount may, therefore, be screwy, and not line up nicely with how much you guys will actually owe. You don't need to explain why you're changing your withholding when you change it.

I don't know if it matters that your name will be your maiden name on your W2s, though... presumably your Social Security # will be the same so it's probably ok but you should definitely not take my word on that...
posted by brainmouse at 12:33 PM on November 9, 2010

i got married months and months ago - i live in a state that once i start using my married name, it is my name for all intents and purposes. i have something like three years to change my SS free of charge.

this might all be dependent on what state you're in, but it's really been not a big deal to have a different name that shows up on some of my stuff.
posted by nadawi at 12:36 PM on November 9, 2010

You've probably already filed the marriage license from the first ("real") one, or will soon, and that's the date the government will want to see when it asks you when you got married on all those forms. They might not notice... but then again, they might. So I wouldn't mess with it. If you have questions, take some "hypotheticals" (oops! not hypothetical anymore!) to someone in an HR role who doesn't deal directly with your coworkers.

Your HR people deal with confidential stuff (SSN, disability status, etc.), and if you ask them to keep it quiet, they should respect your wishes. SHOULD being the operative word... but they should.

IANA HR person, nor an insurance agent, but it's considered a qualifying life event for insurance, etc. In order to make any changes, you must typically do so within 31 days of the event. This includes terminating your plan and going on your spouse's plan.

Those changes may also be made during an open enrollment period, but typically most places do that in, say, October (with coverage beginning in January). So unless you take advantage of that now, you might be out of luck.

As for the name, though, I think you can wait. I waited for about six months, although I think that was primarily for tax reasons. I had signed my name Madamina Middle Maiden Married on the certificate, intending to be known as Madamina Maiden Married (no hyphen), but it got way too unwieldy. So I ended up getting my new SS card as Madamina MI MI Married, and that's what I went by until my divorce.
posted by Madamina at 12:49 PM on November 9, 2010

It's the status change, not the name change, that is more important for HR / tax purposes. If your withholdings change, you'll want to update HR now rather than later, because your taxes are assessed as of your marital status on Dec. 31, 2010.

I know this bit isn't in your question, but you may want to tell the actual wedding guests that they're showing up for a party and not for the main event. Seems like I've read a version of this a lot on Dear Abby and the like where a guest goes to a wedding only to find out that the couple had already been married for four or six months. The agony aunt usually sympathizes with the guest who feels hoodwinked out of a gift but not important enough to the couple to get the memo that they're married. Ymmv.
posted by motsque at 1:11 PM on November 9, 2010

Not to derail, but I'm going to strongly disagree with motsque. Easily half the weddings I've been to have been separate from the Actual Legal Marriage - usually by a matter of days or weeks, sure, but the point is that people got married at the courthouse at some other time. The legal wedding in most US states isn't "I now pronounce you" anyway; it's the signing of the marriage license by the officiant/couple/witnesses, and that's very rarely actually incorporated into wedding ceremonies. This is 2010, and marriage is simply not the kind of massively transformation of a relationship it used to be, when couples might have not even spent much unchaperoned time together before the wedding night.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:38 PM on November 9, 2010 [6 favorites]

Just got married and am dealing with name change/marriage status fallout.

You have two years to change your social security without needing additional paperwork aside from your marriage license.

If you plan to use this as a Live Event for insurance, you typically have 31 days from the date of the marriage to do so, or you have to wait for your next open enrollment period.

You should alert HR and change your tax withholding status as others have said, not because of the name change but because your tax status is as of December 31.

You may also want to have them push the name change out to any vendors if you anticipate a problem with having an ID that doesn't match your insurance card (I had this problem when I recently went to buy cough medication -- which requires an ID which has my new name -- with my flex spending debit card which has my old name on it. OMG you'd have thought I was trying to steal a baby). Ask them to keep it quiet and they should.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 2:25 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Has the later wedding taken place yet?
If not, you probably need to tell the person officiating. They will need to know that the license has already been signed. They might want to change the wording of the ceremony to indicate a renewal of a vow, rather than an initial vow. If you don't want that, you might have to try to negotiate for the original wording.
posted by CathyG at 4:00 PM on November 9, 2010

You only need to let them know if there is something different with your withholdings. You can change your name later, and should be okay.
posted by elegance at 6:05 PM on November 9, 2010

It flat out does not matter withholding wise what you claim (single, married, 0 or 1 dependents) as far as filing your taxes the following year is concerned. The only thing that claiming does is determine how much taxes are withheld - the IRS doesn't check to make sure your W-2 withholding matches what you declare on your 1040. (I know this because I claim single but file married every year.)
posted by getawaysticks at 5:48 AM on November 10, 2010

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