Who am I?

I have had cause, recently, to need to prove who I am, and more to the point, to prove who I was before I was married, and subsequently divorced.  You would not have thought this would be too difficult, but I do not have a marriage certificate.  I have sent off for one, at a cost of nine pounds and fifty pence, and it seems that all will be plain sailing.

This, though, raises certain questions as far as I am concerned.  The first is why on earth does my decree absolute state that the marriage that took place between Mr Squarepeg and Mrs Squarepeg “be dissolved unless sufficient cause be shown to the Court”?  I was not then Mrs Squarepeg – I was but an innocent Miss, which the documentation utterly fails to recognise. 

Second, the reason I need this proof is so that I can show that such certificates that I have gained are truly mine.  The information that one is required to give to demonstrate proof of identity are nothing that I could not provide for my best friend (whose results are rather better than my own), and in fact, are nothing I could not go and look up at St Catherine’s House, were I so minded.

What makes me particularly cross is that my passport contains no information about my previous name or, in my sister the Tax Inspector’s case, names.  Surely a document that is taken as proof of one’s very existence should at the very least contain such information?  For those who think that ID cards are the way forward, nothing I have read has indicated that they would show whether or when I was married, and when and how often I have changed my name.

This, it strikes me, is the reason that identity theft is so prevalent these days – because it is so easy.  If you know a little about someone, it is scarcely difficult to find out a little more, to the point that you could, if you were so minded, decide to take on their persona.  My birth certificate and my passport show the same place of birth, which in my case is a village so small that you would be hard pressed to find five other people hailing from such an address – ( I have just looked it up on Wikipedia – I exaggerate: it seems there are 150 souls living there) but suppose it were London or Birmingham?  It would then be simplicity itself to find another to fill in the lacunae in one’s documentation.  Add to this the fact that I have a sister who predeceased me, and you can see that I could, with little difficulty, obtain a second passport.  I am almost tempted to do so, simply in order to show how very simple it is to hoodwink the authorities, and set up an alternative identity.

Ultimately, I am who I am – but the fact that I should have to go to considerable trouble and expense in order to prove so, in order to obtain information that is available to anyone who cares to make a few enquiries, does not leave me sanguine about the security of the identities of any one of us.  Yet with identity comes a whole host of other obligations, responsibilities and rights – and none of them should be taken lightly.  It is time that the system was tightened up.

11 thoughts on “Who am I?”

  1. I appreciate the problem, Squarepeg but surely your employer knows who you are, the tax authorities ditto, your bank, the local council and maybe a solicitor or two!

    Should not this be sufficient?

  2. No it isn’t!

    What happened to your marriage lines sp?

    I have a draw full of such, divorce papers, change of name deeds etc. Legally after a marriage ends you still keep the mane of your marriage, to make it nice and water tight legally for property etc if you wish to revert to your maiden name or any other come to that you need to do a change of name deed! It keeps their dibs out of your affairs and bank deposits!

    Also if you have residency abroad like I do you have to prove every name you have ever had with all supporting paperwork!
    Nigh on need a pantechnicon!
    Well I guess it is so complicated no one would ever try to steal it as an identity, don’t know who I am half the time myself! I am different in the UK to the USA. We don’t do joint assets!

  3. SP

    At one time it was extremely easy to buy any certificates. The procedure has been tightened up considerably because of the possibilities of identity theft – although I agree that if one has the right information to pass the various checks it is perfectly possible to send for a certificate from anywhere in the world.


    You do not have to do a change of name ‘deed’ to revert to a maiden name. Well, I certainly didn’t. I was extremely peeved when the lawyer said that I had to use my second husband’s surname to divorce him, since it was the only time that I ever did use it.

  4. Bo I was advised to do so to prove he had no interest in my property. It was not the matrimonial home and we thought he, the ex, was about to declare bankruptcy in the UK, perhaps that had something to do with it? Can’t elucidate!

  5. Christina!

    OK! ‘Other reasons’ might well be a good cause for ensuring that the whole situation was legally water-tight! 🙂

  6. Christina –
    “What happened to your marriage lines sp?”

    I think the ex has them – so no hope of retrieval!

  7. That’s a bit of paper the ladies need to ‘bag’ right fast! Whilst the ink is still wet!
    Remind your daughters!!!

  8. Don’t often disagree with you Christina: bank first – paperwork second!

  9. I stand corrected!
    You are quite right, I never did joint accounts, much safer!

  10. When we were married by an urbane Edinburgh lawyer in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, Mrs J sais she’d like to be known by her maiden name, an old Danish custom.
    “You can call yourself whatever you wish, but in the eyes of Her Majesty you are Mrs J.”

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