Identifying Married Women

Identifying Married Women

There are many issues to consider when it comes to properly identifying anyone who appears before a notary public and asks for their document to be notarized.

  • Does the age on the I.D. match up with the apparent age of the person before you?
  • Does the picture look like them (after accounting for changes in hair and facial expression)?
  • Does the signature on the I.D. match the signature on the document and in your notary journal?
  • Does the I.D. have the required holograms ?
  • Does the I.D. show any signs of tampering?

Perhaps the biggest issue is: Does the name on the I.D. match the name on the documents?

If you show me an I.D. that says you are Frank W Jones, I can not notarize a document that says you are Franklin Walker Jones, because you have not shown me satisfactory evidence that you are Franklin Walker Jones. I have no way of knowing if the Frank on your I.D. actually stands for Franklin or if the W. stands for Walker.

Most of the men who have needed my services as a notary had I.D.s that matched their preferred name, but not all of them did. So, even though this article is directed at issues with the identity of women, it applies to anyone whose name as shown on their I.D. does not match their name as shown on the document to be notarized.

Women who are married or divorced are more likely to have identity name issues than men. This is because a married woman could be known as any of the following:

  1. First name, middle name, maiden name;
  2. First name, middle name, married name;
  3. First name, maiden name, married name;
  4. First name, maiden name – married named (hyphenated);
  5. First name, middle name, maiden name, married name; or
  6. First name, middle name, maiden name – married name (hyphenated).

And any one of those could also use an initial in place of one or more of the names, which would add several more possible variations. Plus, if the woman is divorced, she may have remarried and have yet another name or names to add to the mix.

Also, anyone could be known by a nickname that may not even appear on their I.D.

The rule of thumb is that your I.D. can have MORE, BUT NOT LESS OR DIFFERENT when compared to the document. This means that if the document says version 2 above — your I.D. has to either show version 2 or version 5.

A hyphenated name is considered one word, so version 4 and version 6 are different last names than the others, just as version 1 and version 2 are different. Only version 5 includes all four names with no hyphens or initials, so it is the one least likely to conflict with most documents.

If your I.D. shows a portion of your name that does not include all the parts that appear on the document, you have failed to show satisfactory evidence to the notary that your identity matches that of the person who is supposed to be signing the document. If the notary is not shown satisfactory evidence that your identity matches, he can not notarize the document.

So, what do you do if your name as shown on your I.D. does not match your name as shown on the document? You have a few options.

You can present a different I.D., as long as it satisfies the notary laws and rules of the state in which you are appearing at the time of the notarization. Some states allow their notaries a good deal of freedom in determining what is satisfactory evidence of identity. Some states (including Tennessee) have a specific list of acceptable forms of I.D. and if yours does not meet the requirements, the notary has no choice — he can not accept it.

You can find a notary who already knows you personally. Many states (including Tennessee) will allow the notary to verify your identity on the basis of their own personal knowledge. This generally requires that they have known you for some time and in various circumstances so that they can be reasonably certain that you are who you say you are.

You can find a credible witness who knows you personally and who knows a notary personally. In effect, the credible witness would serve as your living evidence of identity. They would have to show up with you before the notary and take an oath or affirmation that you are who you say that you are; they might have to sign an affidavit to that effect, depending on the laws in your state. This method is most likely to be useful if you have an attorney, insurance agent, banker, or accountant with whom you have done business for years and who has a notary on staff. Another way this method can be used is if you attend a church where the pastor, minister, deacon or other church official knows you personally; if he knows of any notaries in the congregation, he can be your credible witness to vouch for your identity to them. (He may not know that they are notaries, but if they are lawyers, bankers, insurance agents, or accountants, they may also be notaries.)

You can get a new I.D. card showing your full name (version 5 above). In some states (again, Tennessee being one of them), the people who issue the driver licenses do not always ask a newly-married woman what name she wants to have on her driver license. If you insist that they put all four of your names on it (version 5 above), you can most likely get them to do so.

You can contact the person or firm which prepared the document and ask them to redo the document with your name shown the same way as on your I.D. Depending on the circumstances for which the document was prepared, they may be unwilling to do that. If they won’t change the document to match your I.D., ask them if they would object to having you sign using your name both ways with nka (now known as) or fka (formerly known as) or aka (also known as) between them. If you do sign both ways with the nka or fka or aka between them, the notary will have to correct the notary certificate to show that.

The only option you do not have is to demand that the notary proceed with the notarization when your name as shown on your I.D. does not include enough of your full name for them to verify that you are the person whose name is on the document. It would be an illegal act of negligence and a serious notary error for the notary to notarize under such circumstances.




About Tim Gatewood

55+, male, widowed. Mobile Notary Public and Signing Agent, Freelance Writer, and Ordained Minister. Willing servant to cats. Science fiction and fantasy fan, avid reader, Founder of the Darrell Awards. Author of _Getting Started As A Notary Signing Agent_ (available from Please be kind to one another.
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