Couple ‘will divorce’ if son can’t take mother’s name

A couple from southern Sweden are saying they will divorce if authorities don't let their son take both his father's and mother's names.

Lars Jensen and Lina Wernström Jensen want their son Aksel to be Aksel Wernström Jensen. But an archaic Swedish law enacted to protect the names of the aristocracy is preventing the couple from passing down Lina’s name.

According to Swedish law, only unmarried parents can give their child new double-barrelled names. In these cases, the child technically takes on the mother’s name as a ‘middle name’. Married parents, however, are not able to pass down the mother’s maiden name.

This means that the couple’s daughter, born before they were married, is a Wernström Jensen, while her brother is forbidden from styling himself with his mother name.

The Jensens say that the decision by the Swedish tax authority not to allow their son to have both names is “absolutely absurd.”

“I have a friend who was allowed to change from Gustavsson to Cyberfeldt,” he told Sydsvenskan newspaper.

The couple appealed the tax authority’s decision to the District Administrative Court, but the court rejected their plea. The Wernström Jensens say if higher courts also refuse to allow the double-barrelled name they may take Danish citizenship or even divorce.

“If we’d known about these rules we would have waited before getting married. Getting divorced and remarried is an option,” said Wernström Jensen to Sydsvenskan.

The Swedish Name Law was originally introduced to prevent people from passing themselves off as nobles by taking on aristocratic names. But complaints that it has become too restrictive have led to a review of the legislation, which is due to report next year.