66 Comments

Changing your name for whatever reason in Florida is not as straightforward as many might think. Here are a number of things you might want to know.

Marriage Name Change Options

In Florida, around 80% of all married women change their names, although it is not the simplest process. However, after marriage you have a number of options to consider when it comes to name change, particularly if you are not interested in maintaining your maiden name after going down the aisle.

Take husband's last name

About 85 percent of married women in Florida simply drop their maiden names and take up the last name of their husband's. It's still the most clear-cut, common and traditional choice, even in Florida.

Hyphen or space

Rather than drop your maiden name, in Florida, you can also add the name of your partner onto yours. You have the choice to use a space or simply hyphenate between both surnames. Name change in this case can be done in any order, but traditionally the wife's name appears first.

Both spouse names

For professional women who have been busy publishing academic papers, creating and running business, building strong reputations and names in diverse industries, dropping a name might not be that easy. If your name is associated with an important part of your professional life, in Florida, you are allowed to use both the name of your husband and your maiden name in various places. Name change is not obligatory after marriage and remaining with a maiden name hardly means your feelings for your spouse have waned.

Surname combinations

Another popular way of approaching name change in Florida is combining both the surname of the man and woman after marriage. Nonetheless, this requires undergoing a legal process to have the changes accepted. The most common practice is merging two surnames into a single name shared among the two of you. For example, if the husband's last name is 'Bond' and the wife's 'Iron', the merged surnames would create something like 'Ironbond.' The legal process might be clear but takes a bit of time and it's always important to start earlier; perhaps before you get married.

Maiden to middle

A married woman in Florida also has the option of taking the surname of the husband and moving her name to the middle. This does not require a legal process, but only a marriage certificate to be effected. In fact, in this State, the only time you need a legal name change is when you are not taking the last name of your husband.

Husband taking wife's

In Florida, a man can also take the last name of the wife, but this has not always been the case. Back in 2013, Lazaro Sopena married Hanh Dinh and took her surname "Dinh", using the original marriage certificate. Over a year later he was accused of fraud for changing his name to his wife's. Nonetheless, this was overturned after a legal process and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in Florida has been training its employees to realize name change after marriage works either way.

Name Change after Divorce in Florida

In Florida, a legal name change after divorce requires that you collect a number of documents that includes proof of identity, such as a passport, state ID and driver's license, a birth certificate, hospital record or adoption decree as a proof of age, and a Florida divorce decree's certified copy. In case the divorce decree copy is not there, the Divorce Records Request Letter comes in handy. The Birth Certificate Request Letter can also help if you don't have a birth certificate copy.

Does your divorce decree actually restore your previous name?

Look at the divorce decree and identify whether a name change provision is included. In case there is not a provision for that, you only need to call the court that dealt with the case and request for an amendment of the document. However, amendments are not allowed in all Florida courts. If the request for amendment is denied, simply go ahead with a name change petition.

With divorce decree in hand, commence changing your name

Once the legal documentation has been granted by the divorce decree for a name change, you should go ahead and let government agencies know the new name you are using. Government offices that must be notified include the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security Office. Start by seeking approval of the new name on your Social Security card before taking the certificate to the DMV office for name change on your driver's license.

Return to a previous name

In Florida, you can also return to a previous name you were using before marriage, during divorce proceedings. On the divorce forms you can also indicate you would like a restoration of a former name. In case you would like a former name restored, the Judgement of Dissolution of Marriage order has to be written by a judge using the full legal name that has been restored. With the order, approach the social security office for a quick name change.

The social security administration might request a birth certificate, official document or passport that indicates you are citizen of the United States, and an identification that still bears the name before divorce. The process of name change is usually free while the divorce process is ongoing.

However, after the divorce has been finalized, name change requires a petition for a name to be changed after the fact. Generally, Florida law hardly distinguishes between name restoration after divorce and changing to a wholly new name; you might need to part with $400 to file the petition for a name change.

General Adult Name Change

Florida courts only accept change of names for very legitimate reasons. The process of adult name change in the State begins with petition filing within the circuit court in your jurisdiction. You must also file your fingerprints officially with the petition unless you are restoring a previous name. Once the petition has been filed it's possible for a hearing to commence immediately.

Requirements the name change petitioner must fulfill

For the adult name change petition to go through, you need to meet a number of requirements. This includes being a resident of Florida and living in the County where the filing of the name change petition is being done. The petitioner need to be 18 years of age minimum and should have no illegal ulterior motive for seeking a name change; the action should not be infringing on the privacy, patent, partnership, property rights or good will of others. Your civil right should not have been suspended. If so, they should at least have been restored fully before going ahead with the petition.

Fees for the adult name change petition could be $400 or more.

What to do once your court order is granted

The court issues an order or Final Judgement once it finds every legal requirement has been satisfied. This means you can take up the new name. File the Florida Name Change Judgment that has been signed by the judge and, for a little fee, ask for certified copies. With the certified copies approach the Social Security Office for a name change of your social security card before doing the same for the Department of Motor Vehicles so that the name on the driver's license can be changed.

Child Name Changes

In Florida, obtaining a child's name change starts by filing a petition with the Superior Court within the locality where the child resides.

Conditions to meet for changing your child's name

To change the name of a minor you need a number of requirements to be satisfied, such as the minor being a resident of Florida and living within the County where the petition is filed. The minor must also be younger than 17 years of old and both the petitioner and minor should not have an illegal or ulterior purpose, and that the granting of the name change will not infringe on the rights of anyone. A written consent is required for the name change from the adults who are legally the minor's guardians.

Who decides for the child? One parent, both parents, or guardian?

Guardian ad litem, legal guardian or parent can file the petition. If it's just a single parent who has filed for the name change and the other parent has not signed the Change of Name of Consent form, the other parent needs to be served with the details.

In case the other parent is a non-resident, the court can authorize through publication a constructive notice. It's possible for the hearing to be immediate after filing, and if the court is certified about the name change for the minor the court issues an order and the child can assume the new name.

Change of Name on Birth Certificate

In case you have gone through legal name change through a court in Florida, a legal name change report is forwarded to the court clerk office within a month where the birth record is amended. The original record of birth or birth certificate must be attached to the name change report from the court. However a $20 non-refundable fee is necessary for the record's amendment. This applies both for death, birth and paternity amendments.

It means that once you have petitioned a court for a name change legally and it has gone through, you can request a birth certificate's certified copy just like you would order a normal birth certificate.

Social Security, DMV, Passport, IRS Name Changes

Update your social security card first

Once you have a new name, legally changed, request your documents to reflect this. The first process involves getting a new social security card. What you need together with the court order that legally changed your name is a State identification, passport, driver's license-photo IDs-together with a birth certificate. You can then apply for a fresh Social Security card.

You don't have to appear there physically since mailing a certified court order copy is acceptable, including other required copies. The new Social Security card should arrive in about 10 days once the request has been processed. Usually the Social Security Administration will update records in about 72 hours after your request has been received.

Next, change your name on your driver's license

It's also important to update your driver's license in Florida within 10 days, but you must wait for the Social Security Administration to process your request for a change of name first.

Follow through with remaining governmental/non-governmental institutions

After changing the name on the main governmental requirements such as Social Security and DMV, other documentation should also follow. These includes changing the name you have used in bank accounts, IRS, voter registration, mortgages and leases, credit cards, passport, PO boxes, medical offices, car title, among many others.

After these have been done and your name has been changed on all important documents, continue the use of the new name everywhere, including signing checks.

Additional fees to change your name

Remember that name change in Florida comes at a fee, where a driver's license costs $25, $2.50 for a vehicle registration card, $75.25 for an electronic vehicle title and $2.50 for a printed vehicle title. Tax collector offices in Counties will also ask for another $6.25 fee.

Using a Chancery Court to facilitate your name change

According to the 2015 Florida statutes on name changes, Chancery courts can now complete a name change for an individual in Florida for a petition filed in the petitioner's county of residency. Before a Florida court hears a name change petition it's now required for petitioners to have submitted their fingerprints for a nation and state check on criminal history unless the process is a restoration of a previous name. The court will use the results of the check from the FBI through the Department of Law Enforcement in determining whether the petition should be granted. Criminal history checks and processing fingerprints fees are the responsibility of the petitioner.

Recognized Name Change Documents

There are different types of documents required for a name change in Florida. These includes a certified copy of marriage certificate for marriage name change, certified copy of divorce decree for divorce name change, court order for general adult name change, United States resident identification such as driver's license, state IDs and passport, criminal history and finger print checks (done by the court through the Law Enforcement Department but paid by the petitioner), signed consent from the parents of a minor or legal guardian among others that a Florida court might request.

66 Comments

  1. Maggie

    I'm in Jacksonville and I wanted to change my first name along with my married name and found out I had to go to court to do it. The cost is too high. I can't spend that sort of money now on going to court. Is there anything I can do to avoid it?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maggie. You can try to request a fee waiver. You'll have to confirm that you don't have enough income to pay for your household needs as well as the court fees. There's no guarantee it'll be granted, but is worth a try.

      Reply
  2. Odis Allain

    Informative post – I was enlightened by the facts , Does anyone know where my assistant could possibly get a blank FL 12.982(a) form to work with ?

    Reply
  3. kim

    kim
    i live in Tampa bay area Florida and got married in Jan 2016.
    can i use my maiden name as my middle name and use my husband last name
    what kind of form do I need

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kim. Yes, maiden to middle name changes are supported in Florida. Change your name as your normally would.

      Reply
  4. Susan Peyton

    My husband passed away November 27, 2011 we were married for 7 miserable years and I was seeing an attorney about divorce when he died of a brain tumor. He turned out to be an exconvict, a con man and was in general not a nice man who among other things wiped out my savings accounts and sold my jewelry. I do not want to continue with his name and definiately do not want to be buried with his name on my tombstone. I Just need to know what to do to move forward with this change for the least amount of money and in the shortest time. Today is my 72nd birthday and while I plan to live longer, one never knows for sure.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I Just need to know what to do to move forward with this change for the least amount of money and in the shortest time.

      You would have to get a court order granted from a Florida judge. It will cost you around $400. You may want to contact the court clerk to see if there's an option to pay in installments.

      Reply
  5. Julia

    My husband is from Mexico and the dmv wanted to put both of his last names (moms and dad) as my new married last name when that's not what is on the SS card. What do I do? I don't need his moms middle name as my name, which makes no sense.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Julia. Are both his last names actually his full, legal last name? Sometimes, when it comes to DMV, you may have to try another office or agent.

      Reply
  6. Bianca Popa Vidal

    I'm a 2 year old green card holder ; my name is Bianca Popa Vidal (first,maiden name,married name) ..when I apply to remove conditions on my GC from 2 years to 10 ,can I drop the middle name (Popa) .If so,do I need a Court Order ?
    Thanks

    Reply
  7. Joselyn

    When I got married in Florida for my marriage license I wrote my maiden name instead of my new last name. How do I go about moving my last name to my middle name and putting my new last name at the end ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Joselyn. Get a certified copy of your marriage certificate, then change your name as you normally would. Florida recognizes replacing your middle name with your maiden name.

      Reply
      1. Stanley Dunn

        Valeria, what forms are needed and can this be done with a notary public?

        Reply
        1. Stanley Dunn

          My wife and I did the same and as we file more paperwork the more we'll have to change. …So want to catch this earlier before we have to pay more to change documents. Only passport, SS card, GC

          Reply
        2. Valera

          Hi Stanley. What are you looking to have done? A last name change due to marriage or a court-petitioned name change?

          Reply
  8. Marie

    Hello I'm a little confuse about changing my last name after marriage. I got married in 2014 and when I had applied for my marriage license I wrote my maiden name not knowing that I could have written my future marriage name. So now I'm trying to change my last name to my marriage name. I have my license and my certified certificate in my maiden name. How can I change this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Marie. Just use your marriage certificate as-is to change your name to your preference.

      Reply
  9. Louise

    I have contracts and a corporate document that would need to be switched over after marriage. I saw that if I changed my last name hyphenated with this type (~) it is allowed to use both names intermittently. Is this allowed in Florida?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Louise. I've not heard of the tilde character having any special significance. Do you have a reference for this?

      Reply
  10. Laura

    I got married in 2014 and changed my maiden name to my middle name. I've since received the SS Card, but haven't gone to the DMV still to get my license changed. Is it possible to just leave it since I moved my maiden name to middle and added his last name? My bank account is still under my maiden name, yet they have allowed me to order checks with my official first, middle and new last name. My health insurance is still under my maiden name so if I change my Drivers License, will I still be able to get the same services as always? I had no idea how much of a hassle this would be.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Laura. Some states require your driver's license be updated in the event of a name change. Enforcement mechanisms or consequences for not doing so (at least in a timely manner) are often vague. Ultimately, you're facing a now or later situation. When it comes time to renew your license, you'll likely have to do so in the name on your SS card. So if you wait until later, it'll delay the inevitable.

      Your health insurance company is a separate entity from your driver's license office. You'll have to consult with them if they require your name be changed to match what's on your SS record (more likely) vs your driver's license (less likely).

      Reply
  11. Henry

    My wife is From Poland with Polish parents but she was born in Russia, I am a US citizen, when we went to get marry here in Orlando the people there don't have a clue of name changing or anything in reference to that, which I found odd and not good. In most of her papers she still has her married last name from her previous husband, they were married in Poland not here. Now my question is can she use my last name without any procedure or form and how can this be accomplished, can she just applied for anything with my last name or simply just use it.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now my question is can she use my last name without any procedure or form and how can this be accomplished,

      If she doesn't legally change her name, any usage would be informal.

      can she just applied for anything with my last name or simply just use it.

      If she doesn't change it, her legal name would still be her previous husband's last name. When it comes to filling out government forms, taxes, etc, she'll have to use her previous husband's name. To avoid this, she'll have to go through the regular marriage-based name change procedure. That starts with getting a certified copy of the marriage certificate, then changing it with the SSA, Florida HSMV, etc.

      Reply
  12. Yesenia

    I have a question.

    I got married a year and a half ago in Florida and went to the SS office and changed my last name to My husbands last name.

    I have since decided to add my maiden as my middle name. What should I do? Where should I go? I live in Fl.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Yesenia. Since you've already changed your name, doing it again would require a court petitioned name change.

      Reply
  13. kim bui

    I took my husband 's last name when I become a US citizen in 2009 . Now, I have some paper work in my country , they need I confim both of names is one person .How will I do ? Where can I contact ? Thanks .

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kim. You'll need them to explain which identity documents they'll require, how many identity documents are necessary, and what proof of name change they need. Depending on the institution and country, it's not possible to provide more details without knowing which country this is for and for what purpose.

      Reply
  14. Renee

    Very informative post. I am interested in dropping my first name. I just got married and never liked/used my first name. I'm pretty sure I need to do a legal name change first but want to verify. Example: Katy Love Perry would like to change to Love Perry (husband's last name).

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Renee. You're correct. A first name change would require a legal name change through the courts.

      Reply
  15. Shell

    Can I move my maiden name so that I have two middle names and then take his last name?

    Reply
  16. Rich

    Im married in florida and my maiden name is jane lim juan and change it to jane lim chan(husband last nme)do i have a problem using my middle name instead of using maiden name as my middle name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rich. Since you didn't bother to replace your middle name with your maiden name, I don't see what possible problem could arise.

      Reply
  17. Muriel

    My husband got turned away at the SSN administration when he asked about changing his last name after we got married, he wants to hyphenate his last name, I thought that it was allowed for a man to change his name after marriage just like a woman.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I thought that it was allowed for a man to change his name after marriage just like a woman.

      Not in Florida. The fraud controversy case mentioned in the article was a one-off thing where the DMV restored driving privileges after having accused the gentleman of fraud, but it didn't result in a policy change that would allow a man to change his name to his wife's using just a marriage certificate. Only a handful of states allows that without going to court, but Florida still is not one of them.

      Reply
  18. Diaza

    Hope this isn't a silly inquiry…. Is it normal that our marriage license still has my maiden name listed? Can I still use the license to drop my maiden name and take my husband's last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it normal that our marriage license still has my maiden name listed?

      Yes, as not all states provide an area to specify a new name to change to. AFAIK, Florida's applications do not have name change-to blocks, although it may vary from county to county.

      Can I still use the license to drop my maiden name and take my husband's last name?

      Yes, if your marriage license application was formatted as mentioned above.

      Reply
  19. Jody Turner

    I'm married and as an adult was adopted by my stepdad. The attorney that did our paperwork put my new adopted and my married last name hyphenated. I do not want that, I only want my married last name. What do I need to do to change that?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jody. You'll have to contact the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics about getting an amendment to your adoption record. You can phone them at 904-359-6900.

      Reply
  20. Nick

    On the marriage certificate, I know my wife can hyphenate her last name with mine, but can I also hyphenate the exact same? On the marriage certificate will it do any harm to hyphenate now in the event I want to go through the court in the future to change it. Example: wife's First, Middle, Last(maiden)-Last( new) and mine First, Middle, Last(wife's)-Last.

    Reply
  21. Debra

    If I get married in Florida and want to take my husband's last name, do I need fingerprints and a background check?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Debra. No, you wouldn't need to do that for a marriage-related name change.

      Reply
  22. Courtney

    After my divorce I went back to my maiden name and it was a pain getting all the documents done and having to explain why my name changed again. I am getting married for the second time and would like to keep my maiden name as my professional name but take his last name for personal things. How big of an issue does this cause and how to I go about doing it? Also how does it affect real estate licenses, business licenses?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Courtney. It's shouldn't be a problem. It wouldn't affect your professional licenses as you're not changing your legal name. You're just juggling your married name, informally. You'll just want to make sure you're using your legal, maiden name for things such as government forms, taxes, employment, any form/document requesting your legal name/signature.

      Reply
  23. Tatiana Mozols

    Hello, I'm from Russia. I got married in florida and took my husband's last name. All my documents here will be with new last name. But I cant change my last name in Russian documents because in the marrige certificate write nothing about change my last name. My questions is how can I get Change name certificate? (I need it for changing my last name in Russian documents) Do I need make petition about it?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tatiana. Not all states have an area on the marriage application to specify a new last name. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe Florida lists this on their application. If it's not available there, it wouldn't be reflected on your marriage certificate. In that case, there's no way to to show a new name on your marriage certificate. Your marriage certificate is primarily meant to serve as proof of marriage.

      Reply
  24. Mike

    Does Florida issue a formal marriage license after the marriage certificate is processed by the state ? And if they do, do they automatically use the last name of the husband.

    We were not informed at the county court house that she could have put my last name on the marriage certificate, instead of her last name, as her new married name, do we need apply for a name change ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mike. Florida typically issues a certified copy of the marriage certificate around 10 days after the marriage license is sent in for recording. You can only request a name change on your certificate if there's an error on the part of the issuing clerk.

      Reply
  25. Susan

    I got married in Florida 16 months ago. At the time I thought it would be easier just to keep my maiden name. But now I regret it and want to take my husband's last name as my own. What should I do to get it changed.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Susan. If you don't already have one, order a certified copy of your marriage certificate. Use that to change your name with the SSA, HSMV, etc.

      Reply
  26. Nellie

    Hi, I am getting married at the end of the month and have been divorced for a few years. I have the amendment on my divorce decree to go back to my maiden name but have not got around to doing it. I am not planning on taking my spouses last name but either hyphenating or just keep mine. (maiden name.) Can I do this during the marriage or do I need to go through the official change back before-hand?
    Also, my spouse is trans and she still has not legally changed her name to her female preferred name. Is there a loophole to do this during the marriage? Thanks ahead of time!!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am not planning on taking my spouses last name but either hyphenating or just keep mine. (maiden name.) Can I do this during the marriage or do I need to go through the official change back before-hand?

      Yes, you can do this as a marriage-based name change. There's no need to use your divorce decree to return to your maiden name first.

      Is there a loophole to do this during the marriage?

      No, there's no loophole available.

      Reply
  27. Jane

    Hi! I'm getting married in June. I never had a middle name and want to add one when I get married. I live in Florida. Can I do it?
    Thanks,
    Jane

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jane. You can add your maiden. Otherwise, you'll have to petition the court.

      Reply
  28. Damaris

    Hi I have to.reanew my license ! Do I need a marriage certificate to keep my husband's name .that I already have .EXCEPT marriage license, thank you DEE!

    Reply
    1. Damaris

      P.S. I'm already divorced! But WANT to.keep my husband's name? Dee! Do i.need a marriage license to keep it.i have every other document. Thanks

      Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Damaris. Just because you divorced doesn't mean you have to return to your maiden name. If you did change your name with the SSA, then the HSMV may insist on you renewing your license to match what's on your social security card.

      Reply
  29. Cindy

    Nice article but I just want to confirm that I am understanding it correctly; I do NOT have to take my husband's last name when we get married, is that correct? We are both Florida residents, are both seasoned adults with an established yet humble life stye together and at our age I do not relish having to go through all the name changes (at work, SS, utilities, contracts, banking, etc). For insurance and pension purposes as a married couple I would venture to guess the marriage license would suffice in indicating that we were married but that I kept my last name, am I correct?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I do NOT have to take my husband's last name when we get married, is that correct?

      That's correct.

      I would venture to guess the marriage license would suffice in indicating that we were married but that I kept my last name, am I correct?

      It would be the marriage certificate, not the license.

      Reply
  30. Niki

    Hello and thank you for your time..
    I have a question of : when being in court order done finals in divorce as returning back to maiden name as requested and was told I have a year to get it all correct back to my maiden name.
    What happen if I do not do not change back to my maiden name before year up?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Niki. I don't know you're referring to. Are you saying your divorce is final and your decree suggested you had a year to revert?

      Reply
  31. Ally

    If I have two last names no hyphen on my social would I be able to do the same on my driving license?

    Reply

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