69 Comments

If you are in California and considering a legal name change after marriage, divorce, changing a minor's name through a court order and/or any other unique name change need, there are a number of options available. Always remember to have all the required documents with you. It's also important to take advantage of easier and faster name changes, such as ensuring you have indicated such a desire to your divorce attorney for faster processing.

Marriage Name Change Options

First off, in California you can do almost what you want with your last name. To save time, you can use an online service providing California name change forms, which supports numerous marriage name change options. Here are options you could explore.

Choosing your spouse's last name

This is the most traditional and common name change that takes place after marriage. The wife takes the last name of her partner; you need to have a certified marriage certificate copy to effect it.

Hyphenating

One of the most common ways of compromising in marriage, and in name change, is using a hyphen and keeping each of your last names. This happy compromise comes about when a spouse's name is very important in her business, social and personal life and changing it might bring legal, family or strictly business complexity. For instance, if you have created a very successful company with your name, which has become your identity, and your spouse insists you take his last name after marriage, hyphenation will save the day. Call it meeting right in the middle.

Remember, hyphenation combinations can take the middle name and the current last name of either spouses' or a combined hyphenation of the spouses' birth last name or middle name.

Blending names

California is the home of celebrities and blending names is one of the new ways of approaching name change. Also a very happy compromise after marriage, it can be done by anyone. This includes coming up with a hybrid name with the elements of both the wife and husband's last name. For instance, if he is Devon Hotas and she is Stormy Rapaton they can blend the last names into 'Hotaton.' Always remember, no matter what you decide upon there are legal requirements and costs to meet. This option is mostly available for couples in California only and the blended last names must be written on the marriage license.

Spouse name legally and maiden name professionally

You can legally go with the spouse's name while keeping your maiden name for professional matters. It means professional brands are maintained while traditions are also respected in personal life.

Maiden as middle and last name of your spouse

You can take your maiden name and make it the middle name while taking the last name of your spouse. However, in California you must list the maiden name as the middle name on the marriage license for it to be done.

Male spouse taking wife's name

In case the wife has very strong reasons not to drop or change her last name in California, the husband can take the wife's maiden name and make it his last name. The State recognizes the right of the man to change his name as a result of marriage.

It's important to note that if you are recently married and want to have your last name changed to your spouse's last name, going to court is not required. You only need to contact the Social Security Office and the local DMV office and request them to change the name, especially on the social security card and driver's license, just by availing a certified copy of your marriage certificate or, in some cases, a certified copy of your marriage license/record. Sometimes these bodies might request a court order and you should be ready to get it.

Either party (husband or wife) changing the middle and/or last name

The California Name Equality Act of 2007 (external pdf link) provides an option for one or both parties to the marriage to change the middle name and/or last name. So, you can opt to just change your middle name, while leaving your last name untouched. Or change both your middle and surname in one fell swoop. While the choice is yours (and quite flexible to boot), the decision must be made at the time you apply for your marriage license application. Specify the new name(s) you intend to take after marriage on the provided form.

The "Usage Method"

Please note: California gives anyone the legal right of changing their name just by using it in all areas of life in what is called the "usage method." However, there are a few exceptions where government agencies might request a court order to officially accept that a name change took place. Thus, it's wise to have a court order even if you are following the "usage method."

With a court order you can effect name change on a legal name on all areas of your life, particularly government-related identification documents like social security card, passport, and driver's license. Make sure you have the name change decree's copy with you.

Divorce Name Change

In case you are seeking a divorce as well as a name change, perhaps to return to the maiden name, it's easier to complete this in the divorce case in one of the most straightforward processes in California. You only need to notify the divorce attorney attending the matter before finalizing the divorce so that the name change is dealt with as a part of the settlement or judgement.

Note: Divorcées can still use our name change kit (even though its apparent focus is marriage-based name changes), by swapping out references to "marriage certificate" with "divorce decree." Just make sure your document contains an order restoring your prior name.

Divorce finalized, but you forgot to restore your maiden name

In case the divorce decree has not ordered the name change or a reversion to an earlier name, simply file a normal petition for name change in the California superior court in your locality. This also applies for those seeking to change their names to another beyond the maiden name, including a prior one in another marriage that was in use in the past.

Divorce not finalized—restore your maiden name

However, if you are about to get divorced and have not finalized it yet, simply request the court to have the former name restored while submitting the proposed divorce judgement.

General Adult Name Change

To change your name as an adult in California, file a name change petition to get a court order from the court; takes about 90 days to complete. Once you have filed the petition a court date is given within the next 6-12 weeks. After the court has approved the request, a decree (court order) is provided to help you change your name with various government and non-governmental organizations. How fast you get a decree depends on how busy your local court is. The important thing is following the laid instructions carefully.

Prepare your name change forms

To ask for a name change in a California court, have all the necessary court forms filled out, which include the Petition for Change of Name and the Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Forms NC-100 and NC-110 respectively), Order to Show Cause for Change of Name and Civil Case Cover Sheet forms. You can contact a family law facilitator to review the forms/paperwork so that everything is done properly.

After review, make two copies of every form; the originals remain with the court, one copy goes to the newspaper, and the other will be yours. File all the forms with the clerk of the court for stamping. Take stamped copies, as the clerk maintains with the original.

Publishing a notice of your name change in the newspaper

On the "Order to Show Cause" form you will find the time and court date, including the department number. You will also have to pay the filing fee at the court clerk's office; check the fee for the initial petition, as it may vary over time. There is also a fee waiver for those unable to afford it.

Once you're done with the court clerk, have the "Order to Show Cause for Change of Name" form published in a newspaper that is publicly circulated every week for a whole month, consecutively. Ask the court if there are approved newspapers for this. Check the publishing cost since the waiver doesn't include the newspaper publishing fee.

After this is done, appear at the court hearing on the material date carrying the proof that you published the Order to Show Cause in a local newspaper, including the Decree Changing Name to be signed by the judge. After the signing of the Decree Changing Name has been signed by the judge, ask the court clerk for a certified copy; use it to change each legal document from the birth certificate and government identifications, such as driver's license, passport and social security card.

Child Name Changes

To change the name of a child there are three scenarios; both parents can ask for a child name change, one parent can request the name change and a guardian can seek a child name change.

If both parents agree to change the child's name

If both parents want to change the child's name, the request can be filed together in a California court. Start by filing the "Petition for Change of Name" for the child and get a court date within 6-12 weeks after filing. After court approval you will get a decree changing the name of the child. Ensure all the required court forms have been filed and that you have the copies needed, including the proof of publishing to a newspaper the "Show Cause for Change of Name," if necessary.

If only one parent agrees, while the other opposes

In case only one parent is filing for a name change for a child, whether there is agreement or not among the parents, the court will give a date. You must however ensure the other parent understands you have filed the petition, including the petition's court date. In case the other parent disagrees with the name change, he/she can oppose the request. Once the judge has approved the request the decree court order will be given to change the child's name. Don't forget to go to the court hearing to receive the signed Decree Changing Name.

Guardians vs Parents

For a guardian who wants to change the name of a child, the process starts with filing of the Petition for Change of Name for a court date. You then have to notify the parents of the child about the petition and its date. If they disagree they can oppose the request. After the request has been accepted by the court you will get a decree or court order to change the name of the child by having all files required filed with the court clerk, publishing the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name, in case it's needed, and attending the court hearing to receive the Decree Changing Name, duly signed by the court judge.

Change of Name on Birth Certificate

To change the name on a birth certificate, follow the general adult name change route by filing a Petition for Change of Name for adults. Complete the entire process until you have a Decree Changing Name duly signed by the judge and receive from the court clerk a certified copy. Use the certified copy to change the name on your birth certificate.

If you have a court order provided by another court in a different State or territory of the United States, use it to amend the name on your birth certificate in California. Nonetheless, the court order should have the entire birth name before the change can be effected.

Changing Name on Social Security, DMV, Passport, IRS

To change the name on your Passport, DMV, Social Security card and IRS, among other government based documents, you need to have proof of legal name change; generally a certified copy of Decree Changing Name signed by a judge, certified copy of your marriage certificate, or certified copy of your divorce decree. For the DMV you need to visit a local office where you will also surrender the old driver's license and pay a $27 fee for the duplicate license. Before changing your name with the DMV, you need to report the change first to the SSA (Social Security Administration) by mail or in person. Notify IRS also about the name change, as well as any change of address that has occurred.

Other Non-Governmental Institutions

While the usage method of using a new name without a court order is alright in California, non-government institutions might request a proof of name change. With a certified copy of the Decree Changing Name duly signed by the judge in California, you should be able to request any body, from insurance companies, employers, academic institutions and financial institutions, to change your name.

Often, such organizations will accept a photocopy of your decree or marriage certificate, but you should still be prepared to furnish a certified copy, upon request.

Recognized Identity Documents for Your Name Change

There are documents you need to effect a name change. These include a certified copy or original copy of the legal name change document, certified copy of marriage certificate for marriage name change, certified copy of divorce decree for divorce name change, and court order (Decree Changing Name duly signed by the judge) for a general adult name change.

Remember, when asking for your name to be changed by the DMV and Social Security Administration, among other institutions, you might be asked to provide a United State's driver's license, United States Passport, and proof of U.S. citizenship such as a Certificate of Citizenship or United State's birth certificate.

All documents need to be certified copies or originals.

69 Comments

  1. Melanie

    I'm in California and got married two weeks ago. When I went to go to do my name change they said I couldn't do it. they wouldn't accept it. I don't know what to do.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Melanie. What do you mean they wouldn't accept it? They didn't accept the name change you were trying to put through, or they wouldn't accept your paperwork?

      Reply
      1. Melanie

        They said I couldn't use my maiden name for my middle name. I want to drop my middle name and use my maiden instead and they said I had to go to court to do it.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Melanie. Using your maiden name as your middle name is allowed in California. That does not require you to get a court order. That suggests to me that there's a problem with your marriage certificate. Specifically, you must not have specified your intention to take your maiden name as your middle name when you applied for your marriage license. Is that the case?

          Reply
          1. Melanie

            Thanks for getting back. I didn't say I wanted to do my maiden on middle when I got the license. I didn't think about doing it then. I changed my mind later. Now I'm having trouble. They said they cant change it because I didn't put what I wanted to change to on my license when I got it. So how can I change my license to show my maiden name. Or do I have to go to court?

          2. Valera

            Since you hadn't specified the "change to" name when you applied for your license, at this point you'll have to petition the court.

  2. Wendy

    Is there a time limit for a name change after marriage? We were married in Washington in 1997 and changed our name by submitting a form to King County, which is all that is required in Washington to change your name. We don't have anything recorded with the county to prove the name change since Washington does not do it that way. When we moved to California in 2013 the DMV refused to accept our hyphenated last name since our birth certificates and our marriage certificate have our birth surnames on them. The DMV would not accept our former state driver's licenses, our passports, our social security cards, or any other document showing our actual name as it has been for now 18 years (this was in 2014 when we first tried to get this done). If I submit a copy of my marriage certificate through your system can you get me a document that will change my name with the DMV – driver license side only (vehicle registration had no problem using our hyphenated last names). I swear they throw up obstacles just as a way of making money around here.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Wendy. California DMV can be strict about what they will and won't accept. If you're unable to make headway with another clerk or office, you may have to go through a court petitioned name change.

      Reply
  3. Angie

    I live in California and will be getting married at the end of 2016. I would like to keep my name and add the new last name. However, his legal last name on his birth certificate is both his mothers maiden and fathers surname and it is not hyphenated. I want to make sure I write my name correctly the first time so I don't have to petition the court for a name change. It would look like: first name, (middle name) original middle + maiden name, (new last name) his mothers maiden + fathers surname (not hyphenated on birth certificate). For example, Mary (first) Cuevas Gonzalez (middle) Juarez Hernandez. Does my new middle have to have the two names hyphenated or can I leave them as is?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Does my new middle have to have the two names hyphenated or can I leave them as is?

      You can leave them as-is.

      Reply
  4. Roxanna

    I will be getting married in California. I want to keep my last name and add his last name as a second last name. Two last names without a hyphen. Is it possible to do this on the marriage license or will I have to file a name change petition with the court? If this is the case, do I keep my maiden name on the marriage license and then file the name change petition after the wedding?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Roxanna. Based upon the reading of the Name Equality Act, that does not appear to be possible without a court order. Through marriage, you can implement a combination last name separated by a hyphen, or a combination into a "single last name."

      Reply
  5. Deanna

    I recently got married in Nevada. The Nevada license does not have a "change name to" option like the California license does. I want to keep my middle name and add my maiden name as a second middle name, and take my husband's last name as my last name. Do I need to get a court order to do this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Deanna. You'll have to go to court to do a "keep middle (space) maiden name" combination. That would still have been the case had you married in California instead of Nevada.

      Reply
  6. Sara

    My husband and I are preparing to petition the court for our name changes (because our marriage certificate does not designate our new surname). Can we submit one petition (and one $435 fee) for the two of us, or do we each need to petition separately?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      do we each need to petition separately?

      You would have to petition separately and pay separately.

      Reply
  7. Carie

    I am getting married soon in California and am considering using my maiden name hyphen his last name. We are keeping our pre-marriage assets separate and there for these assets are currently title in my maiden name, as well as a Trust. After marriage, can I continue to use my maiden name only for these assets or would I have to re-title everything including my Trust?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Carie. It's a good idea to change your name on titles and trusts so that the bank/title companies don't question your identity. It's a potential problem worth avoiding.

      Reply
  8. Samuel Ademu - John

    My daughter got married in Africa and laminated her marriage certificate to preserve it. The Cal DMV refused to accept a laminated marriage certificate. they insisted that she get another one from Africa. In Sierra Leone, West Africa, the certificate is the one you sign in church. There is no other copy to be made except a photocopy.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      The Cal DMV refused to accept a laminated marriage certificate.

      Three options, if you can't get any DMV agent to accept your document as-is:

      1) Try to remove the lamination yourself. A regular search for "remove lamination" should pull up some results.
      2) Hire a professional delamination service to do this for you.
      3) Get a court ordered name change.

      With #1, you'll need to be careful. Depending on how the lamination was done, the bonding could be so strong that attempts to separate your certificate could ruin it.

      With #2, you'll want to make sure whomever you hire has experience separating such lamination and won't destroy your document. That's why you want someone who specialized in "certificate" delamination.

      Reply
  9. Sue

    I got married in 2014 and kept my name as is. I now want to change it to my husband's last name. Since I didn't plan on changing my last name I didn't get my marriage certificate. I wanted to proceed with changing my last name and I see I need a copy of my marriage certificate. I am almost 100% sure that I didn't specify that I was changing my last name. Do I need to go get another marriage certificate that states I am taking my husband's last name? Please help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sue. You could file an affidavit to amend a marriage record with the county recorders office, although it's meant for name corrections, not changes. If you can't get that processed, you may be looking at having to get a court order.

      Reply
  10. Jalpa Parikh

    Hi! I recently got married in CO and am living in CA. The CO marriage certificate does not have a place for new names-

    1) If I just change my last name to my husband's last name, do I need a court order?

    2) Traditionally we change our middle name to our husbands first name, and the last name to his last name, does this need a court order?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      1) If I just change my last name to my husband's last name, do I need a court order?

      No.

      2) Traditionally we change our middle name to our husbands first name, and the last name to his last name, does this need a court order?

      Yes.

      Reply
  11. Dixee

    Hi, I got married in Nevada 3 yrs ago and there was no place to submit for a name change on the marriage license and they were specific on each of us writing our names as listed on our driver's license. Therefore, my marriage certificate does not list my married name. How do I change my last name in California if my marriage certificate only list my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Dixee. Not all states ask you to specify your new name when applying for a marriage license. California is one that does, Nevada is one that does not. When you get married in another state, the California requirement that your new name be reflected on your marriage certificate does not apply. Your Nevada marriage certificate is good as-is to change your name in California.

      Reply
  12. Kris

    My daughter got married in August in CA and noted that she was changing her last name to her husbands. She hasn't changed any of her documents and is not sure if she wants to. Can she file a joint married tax return with her maiden name or her married name- which is only on her marriage license and nothing else. If she does decide to change everything, should she wait until after her taxes are filed since she would be in the process of changing. She is also going on an international trip in January and needs her passport, so if she did start the process, it probably wouldn't be back in time. If she just has her marriage license in her married name, which is her legal last name-maiden or married?? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can she file a joint married tax return with her maiden name or her married name- which is only on her marriage license and nothing else.

      Taxes should be filed in her current legal name, which is here maiden name.

      If she does decide to change everything, should she wait until after her taxes are filed since she would be in the process of changing.

      There are protocols in place to deal with this. When the SSA is notified of a name change, they'll notify the IRS.

      If she just has her marriage license in her married name, which is her legal last name-maiden or married??

      Maiden.

      Reply
  13. Csilla Bede

    Hi, I see here a lots of people got help.I hope I will get one too. I got married in 2002. In that time the marriage certificate doesn't specified if I want to change my name or not. The main thing I changed my name after my husband but we don't remember how exactly we do it. The problem is now I need to legalize my marriage made in USA in my birth country for my retirement money because there I was with another name and that was changed after 2002. The main thing the lawyer from my country who help me in legalization of marriage and the new name acceptance, told me if I didn't have specified in the marriage certificate the name change, after what kind of law I did the name change and how was the process of name change. Because after that process/law etc. they can except my nem name from my DL or passport.I live an I got married in California,I need some family code or law from California for this situation.Thank you anticipated

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Csilla. You were married in 2002, but the California Name Equality Act wasn't passed until 2007. The question is did the California marriage license in 2002 have a space where you could have specified a married name? If it did not, then your marriage certificate could not have had a chosen married name reflected. You can try to acquire a copy of your marriage license (not certificate) to see if this was a case. Contact the office in the county where your license was issued for further information.

      Reply
  14. Alison

    Does is cost more in California to change your middle name to your maiden name and your last name to your spouse's name, than it would to just change your last name to your spouse's name?

    Reply
  15. Dena Westphalen

    I am marrying my partner in California and we want to blend our last names. The issue is that we want to blend my name (Westphalen) with hers (Chiang) to be Westing and drop the "a" from hers for pronounciatiom purposes. Is this possible without a court order? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      The issue is that we want to blend my name (Westphalen) with hers (Chiang) to be Westing and drop the "a" from hers for pronounciatiom purposes. Is this possible without a court order?

      Maybe. If you weren't dropping the "a", the answer would a clear yes. For that, you could create such a blend without petitioning the court. I say maybe because while California allows segment name changes, it's not clear how lenient they'll be in allowing a letter be omitted.

      You can phone a CA county clerk/recorder and ask them, but even if they say no it may very well vary from clerk to clerk. One clerk may interpret it one way, while another does so differently. You won't ultimately know until you submit your marriage license application.

      Reply
  16. Samantha

    Hello. My husband and I recently got married in Louisiana but we live in California. My last name is Mason and his is McQuarley. We both want to legally change our last name to Mack. To do so, I'm assuming we need a court order since it's not exactly a blend, but wanted to verify? Also, if we need a court order can we fill out one petition out would we need to file separately? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I'm assuming we need a court order since it's not exactly a blend, but wanted to verify?

      Yes, you're correct. You'll need a court order.

      Also, if we need a court order can we fill out one petition out would we need to file separately?

      You'll have to file separately.

      Reply
  17. Joycelyn

    Hi,

    I got married in California last August and decided to not change my name on the marriage license at the time. I thought we could just change it at a later date. Now I want to change my last name to my husbands. Will I have to get a court petition to change my name? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will I have to get a court petition to change my name?

      Yes, you will.

      Reply
  18. Enrica

    Hi, i'm going to get married in few months and my future husband and I donut want to change our last names? Is that a possibility or one of us have to change it?

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      my future husband and I donut want to change our last names? Is that a possibility or one of us have to change it?

      Neither of you are required to change your name.

      Reply
  19. Danny

    Hello! I found your wonderful article through a google search, however, I did not find an answer to my question. I live in California and I took my wife's last name as my new last name.

    Legally, is there a certain amount of time I must report the name change?

    We got married last November 2016, however, I've going through a job change with the city and it will cause a huge headache if I need to reapply all my paperwork. If possible, I would like to report the name change later this year or next year after i'm well situated in my new employment. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Danny. There's no time frame. You can complete it at the time that's most optimal for you.

      Reply
  20. Johana Hi

    Hello,

    I got married 8 months ago in California and I took my husbands last name when we filled out the marriage license. We just went back and got the marriage certificate and I just noticed that I would like to have my maiden last name there too. I haven't change any of my personal information yet since like said before I just got my marriage certificate. Can I go back and add my maiden name to my marriage certificate? For instance it will be name, middle name, his-mine last names or name, middle name, mine-his last name???? Is that possible to do before updating my Social security and DL? Do I have to open a court order?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is that possible to do before updating my Social security and DL? Do I have to open a court order?

      It's not possible. You would have to petition the court.

      Reply
  21. Kirsten

    Hello! I got married in Nevada 2 years ago (Feb 2015) and had my maiden name on the marriage certificate. I wasn't planning on the name change until recently – I want to take my husband's last name and make my maiden name as my middle name (I do not have a middle name).

    1) Do I need to get a court petition to make the change 2 years after the marriage ?

    2) I'm currently on a conditional green card (2 year) with my maiden name on and it's expiring in Oct this year, and I'll be changing to a permanent green card (10 year). I plan to make the name change on the permanent green card when I'm applying in July. Will the updated green card be sufficient for me to make the name change at SSA, DMV? If not, do I need a court petition?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kirsten. Your Nevada marriage certificate will suffice. No need for court. Your current green card will be fine to change your name now too.

      Reply
  22. Belinda Jensen

    I got married over 30 years ago ago… Took his last name….. Divorced about 20 years ago… Didn't change last name….. Ex passedd away approx 5 years ago…I just found out

    How do I go about adding my maiden name back on to my name and keep his…. As my current 401k IBS under current name….I have a middle name….

    Any advice would be helpful……
    Am using a smart phone and have no access to a computer

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Belinda. To append your name to your existing last name, you'll have to petition the court for a general adult name change.

      Reply
  23. Maci

    I will be getting married in Arizona but we both live in California. I am currently still using my ex husbands name as I never changed back to my maiden name after we were divorced. I would like to change my name back to my maiden name after the wedding but use my current husbands name as my middle name, and dropping my middle name. So, my first/ his last/ my maiden name. Will I need more than the Arizona marriage license to this in California?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  24. Rei

    Hi, I got married in Nevada on Jan 2017. Had my maiden name in the marriage license and certificate. My husband and I want to start filing applications to adjust my status here in CA and I want to take/use my husband lastname and my maiden name as my new middle name in everything. What should i do for me to do that? Should i need to file a petition to court for a middle name change to my maiden name? Thank You!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rei. No need to petition the court. You'll just need to get a certified copy of your Nevada marriage certificate.

      Reply
  25. Elizabeth Arreola

    Hello,

    I am planning on getting married in July and we are applying in May for our marriage license. I want to keep my name the way it is and i want to take my husbands last name but add (de) in front of it. It is a traditional cultural thing to do in Latin America and i want to do that. His last name is Mateos, so i want to be ( de Mateos) I also do not want to drop my middle name Patricia because it is my mothers name. Is this a possibility for me to do. I am worried that I will not be able to have the name I want.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Elizabeth. You wouldn't be able to add "de" without getting a court order. You can keep your middle name unchanged.

      Reply
  26. Elizabeth

    I was married in California in 2015, and I chose to take my wife's last name on the marriage certificate. Since then, I haven't updated my social/drivers license/passport. Is there a time limit before it's to late to change my last name in the social?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there a time limit before it's to late to change my last name in the social?

      No, there's no time limit to be concerned about.

      Reply
  27. Sandra Brushwood

    I live in California and I've been divorced for 23 years, but kept my married name for the sake of my daughter. I now wish to return to my maiden name. What forms do I need to fill out to do this, where do I find them and what are the fees? Please advise.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sandra. If your divorce decree included an order restoring your maiden name, then use that document to change your name. If you don't have it, or it's not a certified copy, then order one from CA vital records. If your decree didn't have such an order, you can petition the court.

      Reply
  28. Christine

    Hello,
    I am getting married this year in CA and know I want to take his last name as my new last name. However I have 1 son and don't want to lose my/his last name. But I would really prefer to keep my maiden name and add his no hyphen. My hope is that I could use the last names interchangeable, as in use either one that I choose (because they are both listed), with the exception of signing legal documents.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      But I would really prefer to keep my maiden name and add his no hyphen.

      If you're referring to your name, then you can do this, but only for the last name.

      My hope is that I could use the last names interchangeable, as in use either one that I choose

      Yes, informal usage is fine.

      Reply
  29. Elizabeth

    My future husband and I would like to change our last name to something completely unrelated to either of our last names. How would we go about doing that? He's currently in the army so appearing for court dates might be incredibly difficult but do-able if we have to.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Elizabeth. You could blend names. That is, take a part of each name to form a new name. That's something you could specify when you apply for your marriage license. That wouldn't require you going to court. Beyond that, you will have to petition the court.

      Reply
  30. Shelly

    I am getting married in May 2017 and will be going on our honeymoon in October 2017. I will be taking my husband-to-be's last name and will fill that out on the marriage license. Is there a time limit on when I officially change my name post-wedding without incurring additional fees? We already bought our tickets for the honeymoon and the airline doesn't allow name changes so wanted to wait until we come back from the honeymoon to change my last name to his.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shelly. There's no time limit. You can wait until you come back, which does make sense.

      Reply
  31. wendy

    I am getting ready to apply for a marriage license in California, Im taking my husbands last name and want to change my middle name to a made up name that doesn't relate to our last names at all. Would it cause problems later and possibly nullify our license? It is very important to me to use this made up name as my new middle name! I've gone by it as a "last name" (unofficially) for 20 years.
    if I can't do that, can I change my middle to be blank?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Wendy. You can't change your middle name to something completely brand new; your middle name must be derived from you or your prospective spouse's current/birth last names. Blanks aren't possible either. You'll have to petition the court.

      Reply
  32. Caroline M

    Hi!

    I was married in 2006 and never changed my name. I'd like to avoid paying the court fee for an official name change. Can I sign up for another marriage license, get married again and then change my name?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Carolina. You must be referencing the requirements in the name equality act. That act wasn't passed until 2007. Your marriage predates it.

      Reply

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