Jenny Stagsegel Johansson and Henrik Johansson, from Sköllersta outside Örebro in central Sweden, are exasperated after trying to convince the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) to let all family members have the same name.
When their first child, Tuva, was born, the couple were not married and so Tuva was called Stagsegel as a middle name or “mellannamn” – a uniquely Swedish construction that equates to a secondary surname – and Johansson as family name.
”Then, as we got married I took the name Johansson, but kept my name Stagsegel, which is an old family name,” Jenny told daily Aftonbladet.
Both Jenny and Tuva therfore shared the name Stagsegel Johansson, although Stagsegel was seen as their middle name.
But when their second child, Neo, was born in February this year, the couple’s troubles began.
”I wanted to pass on the name because it is so uncommon, but we were turned down because I was married and was called Johansson,” Jenny told the paper.
But according to Swedish naming law a middle name can’t be passed on and the couple were therefore told that Neo would have to be content with Johansson.
And the law stipulates that husband Henrik isn’t permitted to take on Stagsegel as a middle name either by now.
However, if the couple got a divorce, that would solve the problem, the agency allegedly said, as Neo would be allowed to have Stagsegel as a middle name. If they then remarried, Henrik could also take the name.
As divorce is not an option for the Johansson family, they have given up their fight for the right to all share the same name.
”We think it is ridiculous that it should be this way,” Jenny said to Aftonbladet.
According to Ingeregerd Widell at the Population Registration Office (Folkbokföringen), part of the tax agency, the rules are very complicated.
”In this case it has happened because one of the parents have changed their names between the birth of child one and child two,” she told The Local.
Widell does not agree with the tax agency advice to get divorced and then remarried.
”That’s the most stupid piece of advice I have ever heard. That is not good guidance,” she said.
However, she thinks that parents would do well to think of what they wanted name-wise before they got married.
”They should have a think about their name options before they tie the knot. And when the application for name change comes in to the tax agency, it would be great if this could be caught in advance so that they could get guidance on their choices,” Widell told The Local.
A government investigation into the Swedish naming law is underway, but won’t be completed until 2013.