269 Comments

When you're considering ways to change your name while honoring your maiden name, one of the best options to consider is adopting your new spouse's name and making your maiden name your new middle name. Since many people choose to adopt a new name, losing your old name can feel like a loss and some people even grieve it. If you are an only child or don't have children, you might worry how your parents will feel when your surname is lost. Making it a middle name is a great way to keep it in your life while still following marriage conventions as far as changing your name.

Pros of Maiden Middle Names

This option is particularly attractive not just for the sake of sentimentality. If you change your maiden name to your middle name, when you're dealing with unexpected little name changes at non-government institutions and need to quickly provide proof that you have just changed your name, having your maiden name as your middle name makes it easy to verify that you "added a name" and you're the same person. It's also great if you plan to continue using your maiden name in business for professional reasons, as using just part of your name is still common.

Satisfies Your Relatives

Your parents and other relatives might have a problem with you completely giving up your maiden name. Pride in your family and heritage can run deep, and giving up your name can feel like abandoning that heritage. If your name is particularly famous or linked to relatives you admire, choosing to make your maiden name into your middle name is a great way to honor your past while honoring your commitment to your partner and future with them. If you're trying to show that you aren't forgetting where you came from, keeping your heritage as a part of your name is a wonderful gesture and sure to heal rifts that might develop over adopting an entirely new name.

More Than One Middle Name?

About three in four people have a middle name now—and ten percent use it on a regular basis. If you already have a middle name, you have a dilemma: do you choose your new middle name instead of the old one, or do you have more than one middle name? The answer depends on how you feel about having more than one middle name. Some use two initials, or one initial and one middle name, and others use just one middle name on a regular basis and keep the other as strictly an official name. If the middle names clash, you might want to consider replacing your old middle name with the new one. Just remember: having more than one middle name can prove unwieldy, especially when it comes to forms and documents that only have space for one middle name on them.

Usually Easier Than Hyphenation

When you have your maiden name as a middle name, it's still easier than hyphenating your name. You won't struggle with an overly long name and you don't have to use your middle name on a regular basis—but you won't get penalized if you don't. For someone who has a maiden name that just wouldn't sound good when hyphenated with their partner's name, a middle name may be a much better option. You will be able to more easily prove your connection to people in both sides of your family as necessary (which is especially important when it comes to childcare issues, such as flying with children). Plus, it means your last name won't be such a mouthful.

Helps Ease You Through the Transition

If you aren't thinking about hyphenating your last name because you just want a single last name, you're probably choosing your partner's name for convenience or because you like it. In doing so, you might feel a sense of loss. It isn't always about just keeping your relatives happy—you have to feel like you're inhabiting your new name as you go through changing all your paperwork and possibly updating your professional details. By keeping your middle name, it won't feel as scary because you won't feel like you need to abandon what you are familiar with. You get to take on your new name while keeping the old, which is definitely like having your cake and eating it, too!

Disadvantages of Maiden Middle Names

There are a few disadvantages to this option, of course. Certain states (see below) make the process trickier than average, though most don't. If you already have a middle name, you have to choose one or feel like "one of those people" by listing more than one middle name whenever you give your full name. Getting used to having a middle name is also a process, and you may need to add this middle name to a lot of documents. Everything from your driver's license to passport must be in the exact same name with the same middle name, especially if your first and last names are both fairly common.

Some States Make This Tricky

Our site can help facilitate this name change in most states, but five states make the process trickier. These states are: New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington State. In these states, you need to petition the court to change your name from your maiden to middle name. The process can be relatively easy or stressful, depending on how much you like bureaucracy and the court system! For many people, it's stressful just because it takes more time and name changes can already be a time-consuming process. If you live in one of these states, hyphenation may well be the easiest option.

Changing your maiden name to your middle name is becoming increasingly popular as people try to find a balance between tradition and more practical modern alternatives. No matter whether you're leaning towards hyphenating, changing your name, creating a new last name, or keeping your maiden name, it's worth considering this as an option.

269 Comments

  1. Mona

    I live in PA and have been divorced and using my married name for quite some time. I really just want to drop my married name and use my middle as my last name. What is the first step?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I really just want to drop my married name and use my middle as my last name. What is the first step?

      Does your divorce decree have an order reinstating your preferred name? If not, you could contact your county clerk's office to see if they allow modifications to a divorce decree that didn't include a name change order. Keep in mind, such name change restorations (due to divorce) are typically for restoring a maiden name or a name one possessed prior to divorce.

      If that pathway turns out to be closed to you, you'll have to petition the court for a general name change.

      Reply
  2. Valerie

    Hello!

    I guess I just need a bit of clarification so I can decide if I want to change my name. Hopefully you can provide insight.

    I was married for 28 years (in Arizona) and my husband passed away 3 years ago. I have decided to get married again this December (in Arizona) and want to take my new husband's last name, but I also wish to to continue using the last name from my first marriage.

    My question(s):

    (1) Can I get married again and legally continue to use my first husband's last name on my ID, SSN, credit cards, etc.? How would the IRS view this?

    (2) Is it a simple process in Arizona to change to a "hyphenated" last name and reflect that in all forms of ID?
    (First) (Middle) (1st Marriage Last Name – New Marriage Last Name)

    (3) Would it also be a simple process to have the 1st Marriage Last Name changed to a Second Middle so I do not have to hyphenate?
    (First) (1st Middle) (2nd Middle from 1st Marriage Last Name) (New Marriage Last Name)

    I am trying to envision all the legal complexities that can evolve with changing my name for a second time in life and how the change could impact my professional portfolio/certifications, need for new ID/passport, titles/records for real property, trust/estate planning, etc, etc, etc.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I get married again and legally continue to use my first husband's last name on my ID, SSN, credit cards, etc.?

      Yes, as long as you don't change your name.

      How would the IRS view this?

      Wouldn't matter, if you're not changing your name.

      Is it a simple process in Arizona to change to a "hyphenated" last name

      Yes.

      Would it also be a simple process to have the 1st Marriage Last Name changed to a Second Middle

      For that particular dual middle name choice (one containing your prior husband's last), it's possible, although you may want to contact your local county clerks and/or vital records office for clarification citing that specific quad-name choice.

      Reply
  3. Sam

    I didn't change my middle name on my marriage certificate when we got it, but would now like to change my middle name to my Maiden name and take my Husband's name as my surname as I start this whole "name change process." Can I do this without changing the marriage certificate for my new social security card application even though my marriage license has my old middle name listed?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sam. You should be able to use it as-is. Marriage certificate amendments are typically reserved for mistakes (e.g., typos, omissions) on the part of your local vital records office, although such policy can vary from office to office.

      Reply
  4. Erin

    Hi. I live in PA and I just got married in Aug. I went to the SS office to change my name to First Maiden Married. No problem. Then came the DMV. They said I would have to get a court order to change it. So now my SS doesn't match my license. Is there a way around not going to court and giving the 3 documents? Do I need my new license to get a passport? Lastly, when I got married they put my maiden name on it. Is that normal? First Middle Maiden?? Thanks to any advice!!

    Reply
  5. Jessie

    I live in California, The DMV REFUSES to put just the intial for my middle name… which happens to be my Maiden name. For securely issue on my behalf… How do I go about changing my Drivers license to read { First name Middle Intial Last name } Without having to go to court to do a legal name change?
    Appreciate your advise.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jessie. Not possible in California. Your driver's license requires your "true full name" be printed. By the way, after you update the name on your license, be sure to update your vehicle registration as well.

      Reply
  6. Becky

    Hi Valera!

    I got married October 4 and we just got the marriage certificate back. My situation is unique – I've had my father's surname my entire life, but my sisters and I have also been referred to by my mother's maiden name. I do not wish to keep either my middle name or my father's surname; instead, I want to have my first name, my mother's maiden as my middle, and then my husband's last name. The social security form has a box for "other names used" and I put Mom's maiden name in there (since I do use it and I'm hoping this would circumvent a whole probate name change ordeal). Would this end up having to go to court as a name change, or is there a chance that I could just get everything changed at once? I live in Alabama.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Becky. That's not likely to work, due to your constructing a new middle name not based upon your existing name record. Getting a court order is a surefire way to accomplish your preferred name combination.

      Reply
  7. Alexandra Inoff

    Hi!

    I was hoping for some guidance.

    I recently got married and want to take my husbands last name. I want to use my maiden name as a 2nd middle name but not really use it. I want to keep it for sentimental reasons but don't actually like the name so I want to be first name middle name married name for everything but legally have my maiden name as a second middle name. Is this possible? What would I be forced to include the full legal name (all 4) on? Would it be possible to leave the second middle name off of DL and passport or do they have to reflect the entire legal name? I live in New York if that helps.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alexandra. This is not possible in New York State when changing one's name due to marriage.

      Reply
  8. Hailey

    Hello. I got married earlier this year but haven't legally changed my last name yet. I've always wanted to legally change my first name and want to do it now so I only have to change all the documents once. I live in FL so I know I have to go through the court for the 1st name change. My question is will I have any problems when changing my last name to my husband's since my name on the marriage record will be different. Should I do one first or I can change at the same time. Thanks for your help on this.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Should I do one first or I can change at the same time.

      Since you're going through the court system anyway, you can change both names simultaneously.

      Reply
  9. Christa

    Hello,

    My maiden name is hyphenated and my hope upon marriage was to drop the hyphen along with the latter part of my hyphenated last name and add my husband's last name separately. However, when applying for our marriage license in New York State I was told I cannot have two separate last names and I must hyphenate. Thus, our marriage certificate lists this new hyphenated last name. However, I'm trying to find out how to either: have the first part of my maiden name and my husband's name as two separate last names (without the hyphen), or change the first part of my maiden name to my middle name and take my husband's last name. Thank you in advance for any guidance/advice.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Christa. This sort of name modification would have be accomplished by petitioning the court in order to eliminate the hyphen.

      Reply
  10. Kate

    I'm recently married and live in NY. I have yet to change my name, but am thinking of taking my maiden name as my middle name or adding it as a second middle name.

    This is clearly stated on the NY DMV website:

    Regardless of the genders of you and your spouse, if your marriage certificate shows both your spouse's surname and your former surname, you may

    -change your middle name to your former surname or
    -choose a different middle name and
    -change your surname to your spouse's surname

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kate. NY laws governing the duties of city/town clerks specifies what's permissible for marriage-related surname changes, yet doesn't acknowledge other name change options (e.g., first, middle). NY town clerk's website does specify first/middle name changes are not permitted.

      The NY DMV website appears to provide conflicting/confusing information, and it even has a typo in it's second bullet point. There's been NY stories of folks successfully changing their middle names, and tales of fail. Success cases typically revolve around meeting NY's 6 points for proof of name, such as the combination of your social security card and passport. But that's only if both documents have been updated with your preferred name. NY DMV even makes mention of these 6 points when it comes to name change options.

      So, can it be done? Possibly, if you have the correct documentation, completed in the proper sequence, and the agent you're dealing with is knowledgeable of the rules and allows it.

      The main question is, can this be accomplished with just a marriage certificate while not meeting the 6 points rule? At worst, that's not the case. At best, it's unclear. It's also one of those things that can vary by agent, location, and how persuadable one is insisting the necessary criteria has been met.

      Reply
      1. Kate RMF

        YES. Kate – It CAN be done now! I just did it at the DMV yesterday. Got married Nov 2, 2014. All they needed was my NYS marriage certificate showing my pre-marriage name and then my new surname on the line below, and a photo ID (old license) with my old name. That was it! I even got to decide if I wanted my full maiden-middle name printed, or just the initials (I have 2 because my birth name is hyphenated).

        SO happy!

        Reply
  11. JAO

    I ran into this issue just this morning. After crying in the DMV because I had never heard of this crazy rule (the clerk told me that due to NH law they couldn't change my middle name due to marriage and I’d need a court order) and they didn’t care about the SSA receipt, I went back to work and immediately tried to find the supposed law they couldn’t cite for me.

    While I still have yet to find a rule/reg that states that a marriage license can’t be used to change a middle name (someone mentioned the RealID Act, so maybe that's is), I did find what I am hoping is a loop hole in NH.

    In the NH DVM’s administrative rules they list a passport as a possible proof of name change (see Saf-C 1011.02 pasted below), interestingly this isn’t on the list the DMV provides in the name change instructions on their website.

    I am going to change my passport and then bring that and a copy of the DMV’s own rules to the DMV and try to change it that way. I’ll certainly add to the post if this works.

    Section Saf-C 1011.02 states the following:
    Change of Name.
    (a) Within 10 days of changing a name, a licensee shall furnish the following on form DSMV 30:
    (1) Date of birth;
    (2) Former name;
    (3) New name; and
    (4) Signature of the licensee.
    (b) As evidence of a new name, a licensee shall present a copy of one of the following:
    (1) Name change petition from the court of Probate;
    (2) Marriage certificate;
    (3) Divorce decree;
    (4) Passport;
    (5) Adoption decree; or
    (6) Court decree.
    (c) The licensee shall surrender his/her driver license and the director shall furnish the licensee with a replacement driver license indicating the new name.

    Source. #8109, eff 6-24-04; ss by #10176, eff 8-23-12 (from Saf-C 1010.02)
    Current with amendments received through October 2, 2014
    N.H. Code Admin. R. Saf-C 1011.02, NH ADC SAF-C 1011.02

    Reply
  12. Erika

    Hi,

    I will be getting married next month and I'm just curious as to how I have to go about on changing my maiden name to my middle name? I don't have a middle name is it easier? What's the process??
    Id appreciate it :)
    I live in Texas.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Erika. Undergo a marriage based name change as you normally would. You can your marriage certificate to facilitate your name change.

      Reply
  13. Lauren

    Hi Valera,
    I am originally from California, which is where I will be getting married. It's also the state listed on my passport. However, I reside/work in New York (and have for nine years) and have a driver's license from this state. Will this bicoastal cross-over cause any difficulties when I try to obtain new documentation (with my new name) from the NYC DMV and other offices?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will this bicoastal cross-over cause any difficulties when I try to obtain new documentation (with my new name) from the NYC DMV and other offices?

      No, it shouldn't be an issue.

      Reply
  14. Elizabeth

    Hello,

    After running around from office to office and getting no help I came across this article. I am sitting, waiting at my local social security office as we speak and am hoping you can help me out! I currently have two middle names and want to drop one of them. I also want to change my last name to my married name. Which order should I do this in? I live in Ohio. I'm just wondering, for example, if I do change my middle name first, then there will be a period of time where my license is not accurate because I will have a different middle name. Do I change my license, only to have to change it again once I'm able to change my last name? Or can I change my middle and last names at the same time?

    Thank you so very much!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Elizabeth. You'll have to go through a court petitioned name change for your middle name as Ohio doesn't allow middle name changes as a result of marriage. You can either decide to just change your middle or your middle and last if you're going to court. This way you can use the court order to complete all your name change needs (e.g., social security, drivers license). If you opt to just change your middle name in court and last name after marriage, then you'll have to update your pertinent documents with the various institutions twice.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth

        Thank you so, so very much for your help. After speaking with a court magistrate and someone at the social security office, they still couldn't explain it nor understand my question. Thank you again, I really appreciate it.

        Reply
  15. cindy williams

    Hello my name is Cindy and I do not have a middle name. My name on my marriage license appears with my husband's lastname. Well I want to add my maiden name as my middle name and keep his last name. Is there a way I can do that? I live in California and someone told me I have to go through a whole court process to do this?

    Help please :/

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I live in California and someone told me I have to go through a whole court process to do this?

      You were told correctly. You'll have to go through the courts.

      Reply
      1. cindy williams

        Oh okay thank you.
        Someone mentioned that if I change my name at the SS office (first, maiden and lastname) first then the Dmv will go by that. Is that correct?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Correct. DMV can query the SS database to confirm your name. If there's a mis-match, then problems/delays can ensue.

          Reply
  16. Kate

    Heads up New York ladies!

    http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/David-Buchwald/story/56498/

    In a victory particularly important for women, Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester) announced at a press conference that, in response to his inquiry and subsequent efforts, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will now provide a much simpler process to change middle names to maiden names on an individual’s driver’s license upon marriage. The DMV will only require a marriage certificate to make this change. Previously, the process had proven to be costly and time consuming.

    Reply
  17. Yvonne

    Hi Valera,

    I got married in Georgia but now live in Tennessee. When we applied for our marriage license in GA, I indicated that my married name would be: First Name Middle Name Married Last Name. We received our marriage license and in the portion where it has our names, my name listed there is my full maiden name. I'd like to now start the name change process in TN but would like to have two middle names (original middle name and maiden name). Is this possible to just go ahead and do this, even though I want to do something different than what I originally indicated?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Yvonne. You're likely looking at a court petition as you're seeking to construct a new multipart middle name.

      Reply
  18. Nicoe

    Hello!

    I got legally married 2 years ago in New York City (City Hall) and at that time took my husbands last name. I did not change any documents such as Social Security Car or Drivers License yet, almost 2 years later. We just had our big wedding overseas in September this year, and I am not getting around to researching my next steps.

    At the time of city hall, I did not make a change to my middle name.

    But before I go ahead and make my last name change on all of my documents like SS and DMV Banks etc – – I want to also add a 2nd middle name (my maiden name) so I don't have to do this process alllll over again!!!!

    Luckily all of my names are really short (4-5 letters each) so I shouldn't have any problem whatsoever in terms of length.

    I'm not sure what my first step should be – do I need to get my marriage license updated? Or just go ahead and apply for a new SS card ? From there, I need SS card updated so I can apply for NYState DMV correct?

    Thanks for any help !

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nicoe. Order a certified copy of your marriage certificate from your NY vital records office, then change your name with the SS office before the DMV.

      Reply
  19. samantha

    I got married in November. I want to change my maiden name to my middle name, to take on my husband's last name. Social security gave me no issues, and my card has the name I want now. The DMV refused me, saying I have to legally change it in court. I've read that if you have your new social security card along with two other documents with your new name (passport, gov ID, tax papers) then you can go through without the court, but how can you even do that with a conflict with your drivers license and social security card.
    Now I have a hole punched license with a photo card that expires in 60 days…..so frustrating!! I don't even know who to contact in court!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Samantha. You also need to bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  20. Carol

    I am a resident of Maryland but getting married in Pa. where we both were raised. This is my second marriage and the first time I did not change my middle name to my maiden name…..was young and didn't know any better and did not go back to my maiden name after the divorce. Can I change my name this time to my maiden name as my middle name and take my new husband's surname?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I change my name this time to my maiden name as my middle name

      Yes, you can.

      Reply
  21. Kaley

    I just got married on the 28th of December. I went to my local SS office on the 31st (in Virginia, where I live) to change my name and was told that I could NOT use my maiden name as my middle name, I could only hyphenate my maiden name & last name. I wonder why I was told it was not possible?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kaley. Can you specify what supporting documentation you brought along?

      Reply
  22. Micki

    I got married in May and want to do adopt my maiden name as a second middle name.

    Go from: First Middle Maiden
    To: First Middle Maiden Married

    I live in Oklahoma and from what I've read here it appears it is possible.
    My questions:
    Is the only issue with having 2 middle names that it is long and may not fit into forms?
    What about drivers license, passport, SSN-will they all include all 4 names on them and if so, is that problematic?
    In this scenario, is the second middle name distinguished from the last name simply because there is no hyphen?
    Are there any other issues with this scenario?
    Thank you for pain stakingly answering all our questions.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mika. Names that are too long have occurred, but those situations are uncommon. It's ultimately a database issue being unable to store X number of characters within a particular name column. There won't be any issue distinguishing the splits in your name, although it may be bunched up when printed on your cards. That's just a printer/spacing issue though, which is out of your control and really isn't all that significant.

      Reply
  23. Ashley

    Wow this thread has been alive for some time!! I am elope to Boston, Massachusetts for a simple city hall marriage this spring, as my fiance and I expect to move their for his job later this year. I would like to delete my existing middle name, change my maiden name to my middle name and take my future husbands surname as my own. The FAQ section of the City of Boston website explicitly states:

    "The State of Massachusetts Marriage Intention and License only allows you to change your last name – it can not change your current first or middle name."

    Can I still use this license to take to Social Security to create my new name combination or do I need to have a court ruling first?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ashley. Interesting, as MA isn't one of the known states that inhibits maiden to middle name change. Now, there's a difference between just changing one's middle name and shifting the maiden name to the middle name. States that allow maiden to middle are unlikely to allow other modification types to the middle name. Have you made contact with the license office clarifying this very specific sort of name change?

      Reply
  24. Greg

    Hi Valera,

    I was looking at all your responses and you've been a great help. I was wondering if you can help me with mine.

    I am getting married in March and my fiancé is going to be taking my last name. We live in California. Currently her initials are S.L.La.Z. My last name is with an O and in an effort to make her name as long S.L.La.Z.O. She would like to drop her first name the S. Make the first L her first name and make the La-Z, her mother's maiden name and her last name, hyphenated to make it her middle name and take my last name so it will be L.La-Z.O.

    Any help or input would be greatly appreciated

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Greg. First name changes aren't allowed in California without a court order. She'll have to go through a court-petitioned the name change, which would allow her to make all the preferred modifications.

      Reply
  25. joyce

    hi! I'm under a K1 visa and i just got married last january 5 and got our marriage cert yesterday, it was written at the bottom part of our marriage cert my New name upon solemnizarion of marriage is:
    first name, its DAYCIE ANN middle name is the maiden name of my mom its SMITH (the middle name im using before i get married) the last name is hyphenated it goes like this: my surname before i got married (CASTILLO) – my husbands surname (RIVERA). So my new name today what is written below my marriage cert is DAYCIE ANN SMITH CASTILLO-RIVERA

    i went to the SS office today i bring my marriage cert and passport with me and applied for my SS number, they told me i cant put the hyphenated surname because its too long and wont fit in the card and i may have get problems in the future, what they use instead is: my first name, my old middle name and they drop my old surname and just put my husbands surname, goes like this DAYCIE ANN SMITH RIVERA. they drop my old surname, i ask them if thats the case i want to drop my old middle name and replace it with my old surname insteas but they did not allow me to do it.

    my question is what name i will be using when i apply for my DMV? for my Greencard / AOS? i think what the SsN did is conflict on what is written in my marriage cert. Its very confusing. if i want to change my marriage name and removed the hyphenated surname to make CASTILLO my middle name and my surname will be RIVERA how will i do it? please enlighten me. thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      they told me i cant put the hyphenated surname because its too long and wont fit in the card

      Even though the SSA database may have maximum character limits per name part, it's odd to hear your preferred last name is too long to fit. I've heard of a 21 character last name limit, but yours is 15.

      Have you considered calling or revisiting the office and inquring what the actual maximum character limit of your last name is and if you were actually exceeding it? It would be useful to also know what their maximums are for your first and middle name.

      Could it be you weren't hitting your last name max, but the totality of your name reached an upper limit exceeding what was printable? Also, are there separate limits for what can be entered in their database and what can be printed on your card?

      my question is what name i will be using when i apply for my DMV?

      Defer to SSA, but you'll still need to utilize your marriage certificate for proof of marriage.

      if i want to change my marriage name and removed the hyphenated surname to make CASTILLO my middle name and my surname will be RIVERA how will i do it?

      Assuming you can't get your SS record and card amended, you'll have to go for a court petitioned name change. But with that, are you going to hit another character limit?

      Reply
  26. Monica

    Can a bride change her middle name along with her last name when she gets married? Or can she only change her last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Monica. It depends on the state. Take a look at the last paragraph of this article which specifies the states where this is prohibited.

      Reply
  27. Michelle

    Hi! This is definitely the most extensive name changing guide I have come by. Thank you! I am getting married this March in NC but live in GA. I have always gone by my middle name (can't drop it), but would like to keep my maiden name and take on my fiancé's last name. My options are to drop my first name or take on 4 names:

    Option 1:
    Middle, Maiden, Married

    Option 2:
    First, Middle, Maiden, Married

    I am having a really hard time distinguishing the legal process required for these options. I would be most grateful for any direction you can provide!

    As I weigh the options…I especially want to consider the short-term hassle and the long-term inconveniences of changing your first name or having four names. I could just drop my maiden name and call it a day, but my parents are strongly opposed to that idea. So I'm trying to give all options due diligence first!

    Thank you!!!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Michelle. Any first name change would require a court order. If that's an unacceptable hassle, your two options for retaining your maiden name are to shift your maiden name to your middle name, or opt for a hyphenated last name. These routes allow for a simpler name change process as a result of marriage.

      Reply
      1. Michelle

        Thanks so much for the quick response! To confirm: I can have 2 middle names/4 names total? Is having 4 names problematic in any way? Other than the inconvenience of filling out forms, are there any other repercussions you can think of?

        Regarding the court order, would I apply in the state I live or the state I get married? Do you have any insight into what this process is like? Thanks again!

        Reply
        1. Valera

          To confirm: I can have 2 middle names/4 names total?

          If you're looking to reconstruct your middle name using the marriage name change process, two middle names may or may not be allowed, depending on your state. As it's not a common option, you can contact your local county clerk about what's allowable. If you're looking to have dual middle names as a result of a court order, then that isn't a problem.

          Is having 4 names problematic in any way? Other than the inconvenience of filling out forms, are there any other repercussions you can think of?

          There have been reports of some SS offices and DMV computers being unable to input unusually long names to the point where they had to be clipped. It's a database column character limit issue that's set per field (e.g., first name, middle name, last name). It's not a consistent issue across locales.

          Regarding the court order, would I apply in the state I live or the state I get married?

          You'd apply in the state you live in.

          Do you have any insight into what this process is like? Thanks again!

          At the following resource, you can learn about changing your name through the courts.

          Reply
  28. Elizabeth

    I'm getting married in TN in April. I am wanting to take my fiancé's last name and move my maiden name to be a second middle name. It would be 1st-name 1st-middle-name 2nd-middle-name last-name. Is this possibile in TN?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Elizabeth. If it were just replacing your middle with maiden, then yes it would work. Since you're looking to have a double name, you'll need to contact your county clerk's office to confirm if it's allowable.

      Reply
  29. Sheryl

    Hi, I got married in las Vegas last year. I changed my name (made my maiden name as a middle name) to SSA with no problem. Waited a couple of weeks before I went to dmv. I brought my new SSA card, marriage certificate. They told me they can't change the middle name. So on my new DL, my middle name is still my maiden middle name. I'm planning to get a passport. Will i have a problem in my application if i follow the SSA card not my DL? How do i change my name in my DL?Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sheryl. Did they provide a rationale for not changing your name? Was your marriage certificate not recognized? Yes, you can update your passport to the name that matches your SS record instead of your DL.

      Reply
  30. Sara

    Hi!
    I got married in CA last year but have since moved to TN. I changed my name without problems with social security, moving my maiden name to a 2nd middle name. But the DMV insisted that I could only have 1 middle name (Tennessee law) and that I would need to go back to social security to change my name to match my driver's license. It was hard to choose just 1 middle name as each represents the two parts of my mixed heritage (and my married last name doesn't). Is it true that Tennessee residents can only have 1 middle name (regardless of court orders)?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sara. I've not heard of this before, nor can I find reference to it. Did you bring along supporting documentation, such as a certified copy of your marriage certificate in addition to your social security card? Did the person you encountered cite where this rule is set? It's possible they were mistaken or misinformed and you may need to try again with another person or office.

      Reply
  31. Ann

    I've been married for over 20 years and on my marriage certificate I signed my first name, maiden as my middle and my married (husbands) name as my last. I have my social security card, drivers license, passport, credit cards, every document is in that name and I have always used that name since the day I was married. However, I am in an LLC and the attorney for it states that my legal name is my given first, given middle and married last name, which I have never used. He sends all documents with that name on it and I have to sign AKA and the name I've used since I've been married. Is it true that I have to change it legally through the courts when every document since the day I was married says otherwise?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ann. I'm not sure what your LLC attorney is referring to. If you've successfully changed your name due to marriage with the SSA and driver's license office, then your name should be considered legally changed. Your marriage certificate serves as proof of marriage and name change. Unless the claim is that SSA and driver's license office broke protocol at that time, then I don't see what the issue is. It certainly is good to defer to your legal counsel, but you can try to get further clarification why he/she believes your name was not properly changed.

      Reply
      1. Ann

        I have repeatedly informed the attorney for the LLC that it was on my Marriage Certificate, which was presented to the Social Security office for a new card in the new name and then repeated at the Ohio BMV. What recourse do I have with the LLC attorney to show he's not doing his job since I've repeatedly informed him of the change that I made when I was married over 20 years ago?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Ann. It's still not clear to me what the rationale is. What's the basis of him citing that as your "legal name?" What's the source?

          Reply
  32. Elizabeth

    Hi – I am getting married in NY this year. I would like to change my name to First-maiden-married. In NY you can select to change your surname to your husband's last name but cannot make any other changes. From lots of research it seems as though I may be able to make the middle-name change after we get married by going through the SSN/Passport/DMV change, but my main question/concern is that I am not sure how to fill out the marriage license?

    Do I use my maiden name or do I select the box that says I will take his surname? I just don't want to complicate the next steps in getting my middle name changed as it is important to me to have my maiden name as my middle name and it seems NY likes to pick and choose when they allow this change.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I use my maiden name or do I select the box that says I will take his surname?

      Are you asking if the check box is asking if you'll maintain your maiden name as your surname or will be taking on your spouse's last name as your new surname? If it's the latter, then it would make sense to check that box, as it matches your intention.

      Reply
  33. Marie

    I spent 12.5 hours at NV DMV in 2 days….to try to get a 'Real ID' card. At the window today the (very young) gal said that my 'new name' would be 'birth certificate first and middle' name plus married last name that I've had for 47 years. However, I've used my maiden name as my middle name for all these years and I refuse to do that. I will do a legal name change so I won't have to deal with changing lots of accounts and documents. This info was not available anywhere….wish I'd found this site earlier. Thank you!

    Reply
  34. Jule

    Hello: Thank you for your website. I live in New York City, and when applying for my marriage license, I was unable to replace my middle name with my maiden name. As a result, my marriage license does not show what I'd like my new name to be. I would like to use first name, maiden name, married name going forward. Am I able to proceed without a formal name change in court? Can I make this change at the social security office, or amend the marriage certificate? I have heard of many people making their maiden name their middle name, and I do not know of any of them going to court. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jule. There's been inconsistent reports of people getting it to work, while others have hit roadblocks. See @Kate's comment for an example of a success case.

      Reply
  35. DJ

    Is it possible to change my last name to one different from my maiden name when I file for divorce? I live in Nevada.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi DJ. No, that would require a court petitioned name change.

      Reply
  36. heather

    alright, i have been skimming over all these posts for days and hours and i am still quite confused. please help valera!

    i live in rochester ny. my husband and i had a commitment ceremony august 2013 and i know common law isn't acknowledged here. but now we are ready to legalize our marriage, hopefully this month, with the town clerk all at the same time. and on top of that, my passport needs to be renewed before june (i have no travel plans to worry about, just simply renewing it). so a bit of a time crunch as it is the beginning of april.

    i want to keep my middle name and my maiden name and take his as well. i want to sign my name as: first m.(middle initial) m.(maiden initial) last

    i have no trouble writing it all out as my legal name on passports, ss card, dmv (and car title) etc as: first middle maiden last (i plan on signing my name with 2 initials for everything else–though, what about credit cards??)

    so my big question is: how do i go about having 2 middle names in ny? i have yet to figure it out, especially with the addition of someone's link above for the change in ny dmv (http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Daviv-Buchwald/story/56498/)

    what would be the order of changing my names? starting with the marriage license…because i don't think i can simply add my maiden to my middle on the form, or can i since i plan on changing my passport immediatly and i know i have to send my certificate out to do that??? oh it is so confusing…

    thank you all for your time and i hope some of my questions will help…i just hope i understand what needs to be done! :)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Heather. It looks like you'll have to go ahead and initiate a court petitioned name change. Two middle names would be considered a new name construction which isn't supported for a typical marriage-based name change. A court order obtained by petitioning the court would override all and serve as the primary document you'll use to facilitate your name change. When it's time to renew your passport, you'll use your court order instead of your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  37. Jenna

    I'm getting married soon for the first time in North Carolina. I've had my name for 30 plus years. We have been together for over decade and I always thought I'd simply take his last name, but now I'm thinking I'd like use my maiden name as a second middle name and his as my last. Do you know of any problems with that in North Carolina?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jenna. If it were just swapping your middle name with your maiden, that would work fine. But since you're looking to append a name to your existing middle name, that would likely involve petitioning the court.

      Reply
  38. Savannah

    I live in Wyoming. I recently submitted my certified marriage certificate and application to change my name with the SSA. I wanted to use my maiden name as my middle name and take my husband's surname. All of the paperwork I submitted was consistent with this request. However, I received my new ss card in the mail today and it had my birth middle name and my husband's surname. Why did this happen? Will it be difficult to correct? I want to change my DL and passport before traveling in June. And info or advice is greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Savannah. You'll have to contact or visit your local social security office and seek a correction.

      Reply
  39. Mary Ann Fort

    I have been married for 32 years and plan to stay married. When I got married I changed my name on my SS card with my marriage license and on my new DL after moving from PA to IN.
    Sometimes I'd like to use my whole name (first middle maiden married) just because it helps me to be found in old records etc. I go by my first and middle so I don't want to drop my middle and use maiden name. Since I didn't use my maiden name this way for many years, but also never went to court to legally change it, can I still use it this way, mostly socially or professionally, even though all of my legal documents will remain first middle married? I think I just feel the loss of that separate identity as my parents age…..

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mary. Yes, you can informally use your name this way, but on any official documents or requests (e.g., governmental, taxes, background checks) you'll have to use your legal name.

      Reply
  40. Erica

    Hello…
    I live in Florida and just got married, I'd like to make my maiden name my middle name or preferably my 2nd middle name. Can I just go to SS and do that or will I need a court order?
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Erica. You can just go to your SS office for swapping your middle with your maiden. Trying to append a second name to your middle may not go through without a court order.

      Reply
  41. Maria

    Hello,
    I am still wondering if WA state does not allow a switch from middle to maiden name swap without a petition. I have been trying to read the law and have gotten so confused! thank you!

    Reply
  42. Sue

    Help!!! I just got married two days ago in California however both my husband and myself live in Georgia. On the marriage license (done in Cali) I hyphenated my maiden name with my husbands name. I have not went to SS or DMV yet..I no longer want to hyphenate my maiden name but use my maiden name as a middle name. Do I need to go through the courts to change it???

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sue. You're not required to hyphenate. Folks change their minds, so it's not a big deal. You can change your name through the regular channels. SSA comes first, followed by the DMV.

      Reply
  43. Espy

    Hello,
    I live in California and will soon be getting married. I would like to change my maiden name to middle name. I was not given a middle name at birth. I only have a legal first name and last name. Could I change my name to be first name maiden name (as middle name) and fiancé last name without a court petition? Considering I don't have a middle name. Ex: Espy Lopez (as middle name) Smith (his last name).

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Epsy. You would still have to petition the court, due to your state of residence. As @Alyssa pointed out just below, this is incorrect. Your preferred name change is recognized in California during the application process.

      Reply
      1. Alyssa

        That is incorrect.

        In California, you can request your name change (both can) on the marriage license application for no extra cost. This took effect back in 2007 (Name Equality Act Pamphlet) and many people DO NOT know about this. The specifics are listed in the link (who can take what name, variations, etc) but if you choose to change your name after the license has been certified, you will have to change your name the traditional route (petition for name change).

        Reply
        1. Espy

          Thanks Alyssa! This new information has made my day! Thank you ladies for your help.

          Reply
  44. Blong

    I just changed my last name to my husbands last name today and kept my middle name. I am now wishing I would have changed my middle name to my maiden name as well. Can I have this modified if I go back tomorrow without it being a big deal? I live in Florida.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Blong. If you've already changed it, it's highly unlikely you'll be able to amend it if it's already been processed. Still, it doesn't hurt to contact them requesting information about making a modification/correction, considering it's been less than 24 hours since your visit.

      Reply
  45. Mallory

    Hello! I was married 7 years ago and changed my last name to my husbands. Ever since I've regretted not changing my middle name to my maiden name. Today I decided to start the change, I had no issues at the DMV but the ssa was a different story…. One person told me it was abosolutly not an option, another told me possibly an amended birth certificate would work. I live in Texas and would really like to make this change without having to amend my birth certificate or having to get a court order. Is this even a possibility?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mallory. You would be looking at having to go through the courts to implement a follow-up name change.

      Reply
  46. Patricia Carney

    Hi. I was married over 30 years ago. I changed my name at that time to first name, maiden name, husband's last name. All of my documents contain this name (eg passport, social security, drivers license). I was divorced and kept the name. Ten years ago, I remarried. Because of my children, I decided not to change my name. Now that my children are grown, I would now like to take my husband's last name. Is it too late to do this? I live in NJ. Also, I was married in Canada and so that is where my marriage license is from.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Patricia. No, it is not too late. There's no time limit to change your name.

      Reply
  47. Jacklyn

    Hi, I live in NYC and I am getting married soon and I was wondering, would I be able to change my surname to two last names, separated by a space and not by a hyphen? For example, if my maiden name is Smith and my husband's last name is Brown, I would like to be Jacklyn Smith Brown. Is this allowable by NY state marriage license laws?

    Reply
  48. sha

    Hello. My divorce is almost final and I'd like to go back to my maiden name. Is there a fee to change it or can I just go to SS and the DMV with my divorce decree and get it changed? I live and Rochester, NY and unsure how things work. Please help if possible. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sha. You can just go to the institutions you cited and change it with a certified copy of your divorce decree. The DMV may charge a fee to reissue your license, but it's usually not a big deal. You'll have to contact them to inquire about a possible fee.

      Reply
  49. Monique

    I want do do something a little different. I am divorced and still have my married name. I want to change back to my maiden name but have too many things to change names on (credit cards, bank, etc.) So I want to change my married name to a middle name so it would be name , middle name, married name, maiden name. Would this work out so I wouldn't have to everything except maybe SS and DMV? I live in colorado. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Monique. You'd have to undergo a name change through court petition for something such as that. If you were to complete that process, it would be a pretty fragile way to navigate your name change by working around the spacing between your names. Thinking long term, it's a good idea to have your name across various organizations be up-to-date and reflect your true name.

      Reply
  50. Amber

    I was adopted when I was 10 by my stepfather and I took his last name. He and my mother divorced years ago. I am getting married this year. I would prefer to not be associated with that family anymore.
    Can I take the last name I was born with as my middle name now and take my husband's last name as well?

    If my name is Amber Ellen Hawks Jones currently, could I become
    Amber Hawks Stanley after I get married?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Amber. Yes, you can return to your birth name, if you're in one of the states that allow it (see the list at the end of this article).

      Reply
      1. Amber

        I live in Nevada. I cannot seem to find the list. Other articles have implied that Nevada is a difficult state.

        Reply
  51. Lacy

    I wanted to replace my middle name with the name I've been called since birth (though it's not my legal name). CT has very lax laws on name change and nowhere does it say what you are "allowed" or "not allowed" to use for your middle name when changing it after getting married.

    The SSA gave me a SS card with my new chosen middle name and hsuband's last name. The state of CT asked for proof of name change when paying my taxes and accepted my marriage certificate and SS card.

    The DMV refused to change my ID to my chosen my middle name, I spoke to a supervisor and manager both, and demanded to see where it was documented that I was restricted to x middles names and they wouldn't provide it but still refused and said I would have to go to the probate courts.

    I don't want to have to go through the courts but I guess I know what I am doing on my upcoming vacation day. Do you have any record of where CT specifically defines what your middle name choices are?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lacy. The DMV, being on the state level, can be more strict compared to the SSA (federal level). Changing your middle name to something that doesn't reference you or your spouse's last name (current or birth) is typically not allowed throughout the country.

      Reply
  52. HR

    I'm recently married in NJ. I want to take my maiden name as my middle and I understand the DMV will be an issue. Can you do it in NJ in the roundabout way that PA people have done, getting the new SS card, passport, voter registration? Will they still insist on my original middle name?

    Second question is, does it matter?
    I am a physician with multiple state licenses and DEA license. Consistency seems like it would be helpful here, but I don't want to make myself crazy if only my NJ drivers license has my old middle name. Especially if it doesn't matter.

    Lastly, can I expect to have it work out at the SSA in NJ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can you do it in NJ in the roundabout way that PA people have done

      I haven't heard of NJ residents using a roundabout way to implement a middle name change as a result of marriage.

      Will they still insist on my original middle name?

      It's likely.

      Second question is, does it matter?

      It can matter when it's time to renew. The DMV might query the SSA database to confirm a name match/mismatch.

      Lastly, can I expect to have it work out at the SSA in NJ?

      I wouldn't put much stock in that possibility. You can certainly contact them and pose the question, as the SSA and DMV can sometimes diverge, due to one being federal and the other state.

      Reply
  53. Kristy Furgiuele

    Thank you for starting this thread! I got married in NYC but have not yet started the process of changing my name. Will I still have to petition the NY court if I start the name change process in California? We are in the midst of planning to move and I'm wondering if it will simplify the process to wait until I've moved to start my name change. Or will I still have to petition the court in NY because that is where my marriage license is from? Thank you for any and all help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kristy. You won't have to petition the court. You'll get your marriage certificate from the state the marriage took place (NY). You can have their vital records office mail you a copy to wherever you're currently at. Use that when sending in your documentation.

      Reply
  54. Deb

    Help….I live in Ohio…one of the 5…I would like to change my maiden name to my middle name when I get married in November. What steps do I need to take since I am in one of the 5 "harder" states for the change??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Deb. You could go through court ordered name change to change that bit.

      Reply
  55. Vivian McDonald

    after getting married in 1968, I kept my maiden name as a middle name and took my husband's surname. I obtained a new social security card as such along with all other IDs such as passport, DL, etc. Recently, when applying for social security, the SS office in Florida said I was not allowed to have my maiden name as a middle name without petitioning the court for the change. They said the marriage certificate ONLY allowed for dropping my maiden name and taking my husband's surname. It was pointed out that Social Security agency had issued a card with my maiden name on it. They just replied saying it was a mistake and was no longer valid. Was that correct??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Vivian. You should generally defer to the clerks in office. Were they saying your name change was invalid, based on previous or current standards?

      Reply
      1. Vivian McDonald

        They (social security clerk) in Florida said that the state marriage license only legally allows the change of the woman's surname. They alluded to this being put in place after 9/11 and reference US code. Was their legislation passed after 9/11 that dictated what name could be dropped without going to court? If so, I would like to know what the law actually says.

        Reply
          1. Vivian McDonald

            No, and I don't think the clerk did either. But, the bottom line was that if I didn't change my name like he said "the law required" then my social security checks would be issued in one name and all my other forms of ID would be in another name. Try getting a Fl Drivers license renewed or Passport renewed with two different names! Can't be done. So there was no option but to change my name as the "law" required. Now, I'm not so sure if he was right. He said that it was a post 9/11 requirement.

            Just wondered if you had heard of this requirement before?

          2. Valera

            Hi Vivian. I have not heard of this in the Florida's drivers license office as long as you have proper documentation to facilitate your name change. Unless the clerk can cite the US code or regulation they're going by, I can't say what the basis of his/her decision was. You can return to try to get clarification, seek the assistance of the supervisor, or even go to another clerk at another office.

  56. kari

    Hi. I have been married 25 years. Married in NM live in TX.
    When married I took my husbands name as my last name and my surname as my second middle. However paperwork would not work without a hyphen which I would not do. I am wanting to be know on paper with all of my names. My passport, SS, and DL all say 3 names. How do I go about changing this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kari. What do you mean paperwork wouldn't work without a hyphen? What paperwork are you referring to?

      Reply
  57. Nell

    Hello! This is awesome you're still answering questions. HELP. I scrolled through many post and saw one similar to my question: "I live in Florida and just got married, I'd like to make my maiden name my middle name Can I just go to SS and do that or will I need a court order?"

    HOWEVER, I live in Southern California, and on my marriage certificate I put my birth given middle name, but I'm having separation anxiety (lol) and have decided I want my maiden name to be my middle name instead. Will the SS office let me do this or does my name have to match my marriage license exactly? I don't want to create future identity problems or somehow void out my marriage. THANK YOU!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nell. You reference marriage license and certificate. If it's the prior, then you can return to get it reissued with your name choice. If you're already married and you're referring to your certificate, you may have to get your name modified in court.

      Reply
  58. Neva

    I have a question. I married in September of 2014, and I still have my maiden name. I want my husband's last name but I still want to be referred by my maiden name at work since we work in the same department. I considered hyphenating, but that seems like a hassle as well as taking both last names without a hyphen. Would I be able to have my middle name become part of my first name so I'll have two first names, have my maiden name become my new middle name, and then have my husband's last name? And if so, how do I go about that? I live in WI and I'm just not sure what will work best. Thank you for your time.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Neva. All would work except for adding your middle name to your first name. For that you'd have to petition the court.

      Reply
  59. Rafael

    Hello,

    I have one doubt, I am not american, and in my country we have two last names (mother's last name + father's last name). I am dating an American and I was wondering if we get married, can I take his last name and use one of my last names and use it as my middle name?

    ex: My name is Rafael Pires Alvarez and his name is Kevin Smith

    Could my name be Rafael Alvarez Smith?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rafael. It's likely that you'll be able to switch your name around as you prefer, although there's a small handful of states where it won't be possible. I can't tell you definitively without knowing your eventual state of residence.

      Reply
      1. Rafael

        Hi Valera,

        Thank You. I think that according to your text it will not be possible. The state is NY.

        Reply
  60. Julie

    Hi Valera,

    I just got married on July 11th in California. On the marriage license I opted to keep my maiden name AND take his but not hyphenated so it would be First Middle Maiden Married. I read an article that said if you did it this way then you could use either last name so I wouldn't have to change my credit cards, kids' school paperwork, etc. This means I'll only have to change my driver's license and Social Security card, right? (I don't have a passport.) What about vehicle registration?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Julie. It's not so much a matter of what you "could" do and more of what real world difference would it truly make. In the examples you cite, it's unlikely you'll face much resistance or even notice. Yes, you'll want to update your SS and driver's license. You can update your vehicle registration at the same time you're updating your license. So, unless you have a reason not to, it would be advisable to do so.

      Reply
  61. Reena

    Hi. I just got married and live in NC. My maiden last name is the same as my Husband's last name ( Patel). In our culture, we take our Husband's first name as our middle name. How would I go about changing my middle name? Do I still need to go to SS and take my marriage license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Reena. In order to take your husband's first name as your new middle name, you'll have to petition the court.

      Reply
  62. Susan

    I was married in NY where the certificate only has a space for the surname you intend to use (but not a space for your intended middle name). I listed my husband's surname but never changed any of my legal documents. I now live in PA. I want to change my surname to my husband's but what to add my maiden name as a second middle name. I read this would be possible by getting my documents in a certain order, i.e., SS, passport, voter registration, then DMV. However, the passport website says it will use your marriage certificate as the proof of your new name (and does not use SS card). But, because my certificate doesn't say anything about my middle name change, I'm nervous that there will be a problem. Do you think it's likely to be okay — and they'll just print my name as I enter it on the form (with 2 middle names)? Or will there be a problem?

    Also, is there anyway the PA DMV may change may add the second middle name with the proof of my SS card showing this and my certificate showing my last name change? Or are they unlikely to do it without the added documentation from my passport and voter registration?

    Thank you!
    Susan

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Susan. It's unlikely adding a second middle name will pass muster in any of the institutions you cited (state nor federal). You'd have to petition the court to have a dual middle name.

      Reply
  63. Traci

    I am married and have used my first, middle, maiden and last names since my wedding day. Typically, I prefer to be introduced as Traci X Y Z where Y and Z are my maiden and married names but not officially hyphenated and X is my middle name. It's rare for someone to just call me by my married name only but I really don't like my married name alone. My dilemma is whether to have my maiden name officially added as an additional middle name so I can continue to use it as Traci X Y Z officially or to have my last name officially become Y-Z. My job will not allow my official email to be Traci Y Z and now my medical records are required to say Traci Z too. I like, currently, having the luxury of interchanging whether I use Traci Z (when I'm lazy) or Traci Y Z which I love…….I know this sounds confusing but your input would be helpful.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Traci. I depends on whether you want Y (your maiden name) to be recognized as part of your middle name or part of your last name. If it's the prior, then having it be a part of your middle name makes sense. If it's the latter, go with a hyphen. It seems you're keen on having it be separate, so having your maiden as part of your middle makes sense. If that's the direction you go in, keep in mind that folks may likely interpret your name as first, middle, last (e.g., Mary Tyler Moore, James Earl Jones) and not First, Lazy-Last, Last, so that could preclude easy use of it without the married name.

      With whatever you choose, there's ultimately nothing to prevent you from officially changing your name to whatever combination, then still using another name sequence informally.

      Reply
  64. Ally

    I heard that if I want to add my maiden name as a second middle name, I would have to petition the court. (I live in California but was married on the east coast.) Is this true? Is petitioning the court a big hassle?

    Reply
  65. Karen Long

    I've been married for 33 years and used my maiden name as middle name on all documents, SS#, IRS, etc. It has been my official name but with the new federal drivers license my name has changed, you either hyphenate your two names or drop the maiden name. Seems ridiculous to me that I now have to petition the court for a name that is my name.

    Reply
  66. Cara

    Hi! Thank you Valera for your incredibly helpful responses! I have a question for you –

    I got married in NY in May 2015, my marriage license reads
    First Middle Husband's surname

    I'd like to change my legal name to
    First Maiden Husband's surname

    I currently reside in Washington, DC, and did prior to the wedding.
    I've read from @Kate's response that she was able to use her marriage license to change her middle name to her maiden name at the SS office In NY, but I'm in DC.

    Can you please tell me if I need to go to the SS office in NY, or do I go to DC?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  67. Itzel

    Hi. I'm from Texas. When my birth certificate was made, my mother decided to include her maiden name as my middle name. Now that I'm an adult I would like to simplify my full name by dropping out my middle name. I understand I have to go to court for this. My question would be:
    • Is it understandable to drop out my current middle name because I would like to simplify it? I am not quite sure how to write down the reason of my petition.
    Also, lots of people get confused thinking that my current middle name is my last name
    • Are those reasons good enough to make a petition and be able to get a change of name certificate?

    Reply
  68. Elizabeth

    I got married back in May and I live in PA. I started the name change process and changed my SS card to my First Maiden Married name with no trouble. Then I began changing everything else in turn, again with no trouble. I was changing my NJ nursing license when they called and said they could not change my middle name without a court order. I never got one to begin with but I had no problems changing my SS card or my PA drivers license. What do I do?? Is this a problem?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Elizabeth. Licensing boards don't necessarily follow the same procedures as state/federal agencies. It may be worthwhile to try again, speaking with a different agent/registrar, or even in person. Explain that you have legally changed your name through various agencies, federal (e.g., SSA, State Dept. passport office) and state (e.g., DMV). Explain that you can provide proof of marriage and your name change event by furnishing a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  69. Jen

    I got married a year ago in NJ and took on my husband's last name, I now realized, I should have hyphenated instead, I don't feel right dropping my last name and I am starting my masters now and would like all of my teaching licenses to be under my name not his. I love him and we are not getting divorced, so it's possible to go back and hyphenate my last name at this point ? I don't want to have to go to court.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      …so it's possible to go back and hyphenate my last name at this point ? I don't want to have to go to court.

      Since you've already completed a name change due to marriage, you would be looking at having to go through the court to change it once again.

      Reply
  70. Katie

    Hi there,

    I just got married and am trying to figure out the name change process while I wait for my marriage certificate to come to me in the mail. There are a couple of things I'm planning to do:

    1) When I was born, my parents did not give me a legal middle name, but they gave me an "unofficial" one, so all my life I have called myself by my "full" name. I would like to make my middle name legal, since I need to change my name anyway.

    2) I want to make my maiden name my second middle name so that I can use my maiden name professionally.

    So the plan is to go from "First Last" to "First Middle Middle/Maiden Last."

    Can I do this all in one fell swoop, or do I need to do the last name change first and then go back and add my "first middle" name via petition, or something else? Help! and thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Katie. Constructing a new middle name that's not based on an established name would involve petitioning the court. If you have to do that anyway, you could have the petition process change all aspects of your name at once rather than doing it twice.

      Reply
  71. Debbie

    When I married my late husband, I didn't know you could drop your middle name and keep your maiden as your middle – so I didn't do that. My husband passed away, and I am about to get re-married in the state of Arizona. Can I drop my middle name and use my maiden as my middle – then hyphenate my late husband's name and new husband's name? Or do I need to process through court to change my middle name to my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Debbie. You can complete your name change through the customary marriage name change process.

      Reply
  72. K.Darcy

    Hi Valera,
    Thank you for this column! I never knew it existed-it has been helpful reading through the various situations people have encountered with name changes.

    I stopped using my birth first name years ago and dropped it to an initial. On all my documents, I have the first name initial, maiden name, and my husband's last name. My social security card was changed to reflect this. I had understood dropping your first name to the first initial would not require going to court. When I tried to change my license, the DMV representative told me I had to go to court to do this. I live in Connecticut. Do you know if this DMV representative was correct in saying I would have to go to court to do this? And if I do need to go to court for the name change, could you tell me where/how I actually make the change?

    Thanks again for this forum!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do you know if this DMV representative was correct in saying I would have to go to court to do this?

      Yes, first name changes involve petitioning the court.

      And if I do need to go to court for the name change, could you tell me where/how I actually make the change?

      Visit the following article to learn how to get a court ordered name change.

      Reply
  73. Misty

    I have been unwed for 38 years and want to keep my maiden name as my middle and take his name, everything I have read seems it can be done without court petition. However , state info seems as though I do. Which is correct? We will be purchasing a house together soon as well and selling mine under my maiden name… should I wait till after to do all changes? Sounds like insurance plans and passports are the only thing with a time limita. Is that correct? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      want to keep my maiden name as my middle and take his name, everything I have read seems it can be done without court petition. However , state info seems as though I do. Which is correct?

      See the list of states at the end of this article for where it's not recognized.

      We will be purchasing a house together soon as well and selling mine under my maiden name

      That's typically not a problem. It's a common occurrence. The title company can have you sign with your maiden name, while annotating that you took the title under a previous name.

      If you do find out that you have to change the name on your deed, you may be looking at a transfer fee of around $100+. But that's something that you can wait to do until you're near the end of the selling process. Inquire about this early so you know if this is something you'll have to deal with at the end, so you won't end up being caught off guard with an unexpected to-do.

      should I wait till after to do all changes?

      That would be the path of least resistance.

      Sounds like insurance plans and passports are the only thing with a time limita. Is that correct?

      I don't know what you mean by time limit.

      Reply
  74. Riezel

    I am a k1 visa and got married with my husband in California.our marriage certificate reflected my first name ,maiden name and husbands last name and it should be name ,my last name and husbands last name.when I did the citizenship they corrected it and now that I am petitioning my mom they are asking for additional document such as marriage cert. but it my marriage certificate it is still wrong .they cant honor the affidavit change in my citizenship.how can I change my maiden name to my last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Riezel. If your marriage certificate contains a mistake, have you tried contacting your vital records office to have it amended/corrected?

      Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Riezel. You can request your marriage certificate be amended if the mistake is theirs, not yours. Then you can use your corrected certificate to change your name without going through the court system.

          Reply
  75. Laura

    Great blog! I too would like to keep my middle name and keep my maiden name as a second middle name and add my husbands name as my last name. Is this possible in colorado without petitioning the court? If I have to petition the court, I think I'd rather merge my first two names… But that might be more of a pain in the neck, having to report first, middle AND last name changes!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Laura. Constructing a double middle name is typically not recognized without being granted by court order.

      Reply
  76. Lina

    Hello!

    I live in Florida and will be getting married this November. I currently have a first name and 2 last names. The main last name that I use is listed as my middle name and my second last name is my mothers maiden name. When I get married I would like to keep my first name, a new middle name and my husbands last name. Am I able to change the last name that is being used as a middle name to a new middle name when I get married?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lina. As far as I know, such partial middle name changes aren't recognized.

      Reply
  77. Kim M. Sands

    I live in Ga, 30 year ago, I got married and went by my middle name my maiden name and by his last name as my last name. Well I lost my ss card when I was moving back to Ga. Went to replace it and was told that they could not replace. That I would have to use my first name middle name and married name. If everything I have is in my 2th name maiden name and married name then why cann't I keep it that way.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If everything I have is in my 2th name maiden name and married name then why cann't I keep it that way.

      Likely because your name was never changed within the SSA system. Please correct me if I'm wrong. You may just have to undergo a name change with the SSA to get your records in sync with your legacy documents.

      Reply
  78. Carly

    Hi,

    I too live in PA, just got married and had no trouble in the SS office. DMV gave me trouble saying I needed 3 things. When applying for a passport, will they let me change my maiden to my last name if I put it on the application and that is what my SS card says? Or do I need to get a court order before I apply for a passport. I don't want to pay the 110 for it to get rejected! Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      When applying for a passport, will they let me change my maiden to my last name

      Maiden to last name? I'm assuming you mean maiden to your middle. If so, then it shouldn't be a problem.

      Reply
      1. Carly

        Yes sorry maiden to middle name. So will the passport office just go by what my SS card says

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Carly. They'll process your name change based on your getting married and providing a certified copy of your marriage certificate as proof.

          Reply
  79. Alisha

    I am in NC and when I went to the SS office I wanted to take on my husbands last name, giving me 4 names, but they would not allow me to. They told me I can only have 3 names. Is this true? Can you only have 4 names at birth, or is this not possible in NC? I'm having a baby soon and I'm under the impression that I can only name my child with one middle name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alisha. What do you mean by four names? How were you attempting to construct/pair them. Yes, a child can be given four names at birth.

      Reply
  80. Joe

    My wife and I got married a little over two years ago in New York and she had her last name as her middle name and kept my last name as that of hers. Now, I want to take her last name ( which is now her middle name) off and have her keep only my last name. She was told we have to be remarried before this could be done and that buffles me a little bit. Nonetheless, I moved to California due to work and don't see myself going back to New York plus she is moving to California in a few weeks. I really need advice here!!!! Thank you!

    Reply
      1. Joe

        Thanks! What will that mean for the marriage license? Do we then take the marriage license back to New York for a change?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Joe. If the court petition route is to be taken, then the marriage license no longer matters. It's an entirely separate procedure.

          Reply
          1. Joe

            Thanks Valera! Do you think California can honor us another ceremony and change the name on the license. I'm thinking in my head as a way of renewal of our vows.

          2. Valera

            Hi Joe. Only the origin state has the ability to change the marriage certificate. If it was gotten from NY, then CA can't touch it. Even if it were from the same state, such documents aren't typically allowed to be amended unless there's a clear mistake on the part of the issuing office.

            Even if there's a follow-up name change through the courts, the marriage certificate document can not be updated. It serves a historical document filed within the vital records office. Like a snapshot in time. It's one of those documents that do not change, unlike how the name on a birth certificate can be changed.

          3. Joe

            You're right Valera! I think my best bet is a court petition for name change :(

          4. Valera

            change the name on the license

            For clarification purposes: You're referencing "license", while I'm referencing "certificate." The latter is what's received after marriage. In some states they're the same document. It's just the status that changes, before and after the marriage ceremony takes place. For most other states, they're different documents (different look and formatting) that serve different purposes. Marriage-based name changes involve use of the certificate.

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