In the future, married couples could use the same double name and be able to pass it on to their children. This is what Minister of Justice Buschmann is planning, who wants to reform other areas of family life in addition to naming rights.
Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann wants to redesign naming rights and give German citizens more freedom to choose their surname. “Especially when it comes to double names, the current law is far too restrictive,” said the FDP politician to the dpa news agency. It is high time that married couples were able to express their bond through a common double name.
Double names for both spouses and children
So far this is not allowed. A spouse can add the other’s surname with a hyphen before or after their own surname. However, it has not yet been possible for Mr. Schmitz and Ms. Müller, for example, to both be called Müller-Schmitz after marriage and to pass this name on to their children.
Buschmann wants to change that and will soon present a draft law for a reform of naming rights. The preparatory work for this is well advanced, “the most important questions have been clarified”.
Ease of Divorce
Children of divorce should also be given more leeway, says Buschmann. “It is now a completely everyday situation for a parent to revert to his premarital name after a divorce,” said the Minister of Justice.
The child could then also be interested in changing its family name. Buschmann believes that the current law is not well adapted to this situation and promises: “The new naming law will make things easier here too.”
Details are still being worked out
Buschmann did not give any more details about his plans. For example, it remains to be seen whether double names will be allowed to be formed in the future without the hyphen, which is still mandatory. However, Buschmann wants to take special naming rights into account: In the future, members of the Sorbian minority should be allowed to have gender-adapted surnames entered in the civil status register. With a suffix, Sorbs could then use a female version of the family name.
“The diversity of family life has increased in recent decades,” said Buschmann. German family law sometimes lags behind. That is why the traffic light government agreed on further changes in its coalition agreement that affect family coexistence: in the right to a name, in the right of descent, in the right of children and in the right to maintenance.
According to Buschmann, these should come later. “We are implementing these projects step by step swiftly but carefully,” announced the Federal Minister of Justice. “The right to a name is the project that we want to bring into the law gazette first.”
Approval from other departments required
If the planned reform goes through without major disputes, it should go ahead. At least Buschmann is optimistic. “The reform of the naming law will be the right start for the comprehensive modernization of family law.”
The FDP parliamentary group, then in the opposition, had already submitted a draft for the liberalization of naming rights in the previous legislative period. The plan received widespread support from experts, but was not implemented at the time. The current project from the Ministry of Justice still has to be coordinated within the federal government, especially with the Ministry of the Interior.
Buschmann has recently faced opposition from several current legislative projects – for example from Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens), with whom he is striving to reach an agreement on class action law, and from Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD), who finds his proposal for an alternative to data retention unconvincing and risks of crime fighting sees.