428 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.

428 Comments

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
    2. Kristin

      Hi Elizabeth:

      How did you change all of the documents you needed to in PA without a court order? I have obtained my voter registration card with first maiden middle, but am concerned that the passport will not come back correctly when I send it in. Did you use other documentation? Or did you use voter registration and passport?

      I appreciate your help!

      Kristin

      Reply
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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.

  18. Liz Wylegala

    My son was married last October in New York State. He had a hyphenated last name…. David Niles-Smith, he previously had no middle name. His wife chose to take the first part of the hyphenated name as her surname (Niles)….she has had no trouble with drivers lic or passport! He put David Smith (middle name) Niles (surname) on his marriage license. He applied for a new SS card and got one. He resides in Michigan. He went to the Michigan DMV and they would not issue a new drivers lic. He then proceeded to apply for a new passport and that did not work and now he has NO passport. Must he get a court order to legally change his last name and add a middle name? His marriage lic reads David Smith Niles (he was formerly David Niles-Smith) Thank you for any and all advice!

    Reply
  19. Kenneth Blois

    We've been married for over 40 years and my wife has used her First Name, Middle name and my last name on all documents. Her middle name was her mothers last name and her last name is her fathers last name. She is from the Philippines and now on her most recent passport renewal they have now forced her to use her fathers last name as her middle name on the passport. According to their agent she can carry around a Certificate of Acknowlegement so she doesn't have to change all her documents (SSN, drivers license as a minimum, Alien registration card, etc.). Most other documents she won't have to change as they use her First Name, Middle Initial and Last name. The middle initial is the same no matter which middle name she uses as the both start with the same letter. Does she need to change everything? or will just carrying something like a Certificate of Acknowlegement do the trick? Key point is she doesn't need any confusion on who she is.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kenneth. A certificate of acknowledgment can be useful to verify your wife's identity if it's called into question. You say she uses your last name on all document, as well as her father's last name. Could you clarify this point? Where is the name mismatch occurring withing the array of documents?

      Reply
      1. Kenneth Blois

        On her birth certificate her name is (First name) (Mothers Last) (Fathers Last/ i.e family name). The mismatch only occurs on her new passport, where it has her (First name) (Fathers Last) and (Married last name/ i.e. my last name). All documents and previous passports for the last 40 years had her (First name) (Mothers Last) (Married / i.e. my last name). My question is do I have to renew, drivers license, immigration green card, ssn, etc to the new middle name or will just a Certificate get her around the issue.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Kenneth. So, all documents, other than her passport, are correct? Are we talking U.S. or Philippine passport? If it's the former, to change a name on a passport, there has to be a valid supporting document. For example, a certified marriage certificate or court order. If she was trying to renew without such a supporting document, I can understand why they only allowed the existing name on the passport to remain. If this is the case, then she can try renewing again with supporting documentation. If she chooses not to, the certificate of acknowledgement along with a certified copy of the marriage certificate should be reasonable to confirm her identity when traveling. Make sure that when traveling, the name on the ticket matches what's on the passport.

          Reply
          1. Kenneth Blois

            Correct, everything but her new passport reflect FirstName (Birth Certificate Middle Name) Married husbands family name. Yes, it is a Philippine passport. All documents were sent with the passport renewal. Should we match the passport now with her SSN, Drivers license, etc? to be safe, of just leave the US documents the way they are and just jimmy up a Certificate of Identity so she can get back in the US after her trip back to the RP?

          2. Valera

            Hi Kenneth. The advice of your agent makes sense. Use the certificate as needed, so as not to disrupt the other documents. If there's no need nor interest in changing other documents, then using the certificate for travel purposes should suffice.

  20. Maria

    Hi I just want to know my green card have my middle name but my international passport don't have my middle name you think it can be issue to travel internationally

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maria. You should be fine to travel as long as you bring supporting documentation confirming that you're the same person assigned to both credentials. For instance, a marriage certificate, court ordered name change, or divorce decree. With that said, you should still verify any entry requirements for whatever country you'll be entering.

      Reply
      1. Maria

        Hi thank you for reply actually I spoke to my lawyer she said she can give me a letter you think this would be good

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Maria. That would be good. If you have a certified copy of your marriage certificate, it wouldn't hurt to keep that on your person as well.

          Reply
  21. Morgan

    We married in Costa Rica in early 2014 while we were living in Pennsylvania. We received the official marriage certificate document. We moved to New Jersey in early 2015. We're moving to Illinois in early 2016. I'd like to use my current last name (it's not my maiden name but a name I picked and legally changed to while living in FL many years ago) as my middle name and my husband's name as my last name. We haven't "filed' our marriage certificate in any state as the Costa Rica marriage was officiated and legal so we assumed everything is done. Will I need to do a formal legal name change or can I just start using my new name!?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Morgan. You would still go through the typical marriage name change process, same as if you were married in the states.

      Reply
  22. Portia

    Wow! You are so awesome for continuing to respond to this thread. I have several questions:

    1)Can I keep my passport in my name until it expires, or does it have to match DL and SSA?

    2)If I take the maiden as middle, can I keep my same business name (first name maiden name) or do I have to file a DBA?

    3)It looks like Julie above was able to have 4 names in California. Is that actually possible (e.g. having two middle names?). I thought you could only hyphenate middle or last.

    4)For using both last names interchangeably, can I do that if my maiden name is my middle? I like hyphenating, but keep hearing its a hassle, and people with two last names seem to have some issues as well. Again, this is for CA. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Portia

      Forgot to mention I'm getting married soon and will list the changes on the license. If I kept the passport, I would keep booking Intl travel in the same name.

      Reply
    2. Portia

      Strike #2
      Reading through your other posts and finding awesome answers :) your thoughts are refreshingly level headed and unbiased!

      Reply
    3. Valera

      Can I keep my passport in my name until it expires

      Yes, you can keep it as-is.

      If I take the maiden as middle, can I keep my same business name (first name maiden name) or do I have to file a DBA?

      Depends on the context. If you're talking about tax filings, then a DBA can provide flexibility and continuity by using the name you've been using. For business cards, it doesn't matter much. For informal settings, it doesn't matter much. For business licenses and legal filings, it can matter.

      Is that actually possible (e.g. having two middle names?).

      Yes, it is possible.

      For using both last names interchangeably, can I do that if my maiden name is my middle?

      For all legal purposes and documentation, the complete name is to be used. For informal contexts, you can use it interchangeably.

      Reply
  23. Sarah

    Great info! I live in Colorado and when I went to change my name the person at DMV said in Colorado they have the full name law and I could not legally change my middle name to my maiden name. I have looked online a ton and can't find anywhere that says that Colorado is one of these states. Is this correct??
    Thanks.
    -Sarah Jane

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sarah. There was a previous rule put in place temporarily barring maiden to middle name changes in Colorado, but it was soon after overturned due to the outcry. I've not heard of anything since.

      When you went to change your name, did they cite a specific rule that disallowed it? Did you bring supporting documentation, such as a certified copy of your marriage certificate to facilitate your name change?

      Reply
  24. Jen

    Love your site! I got married in July of 2015. I live in NY. We got married in Long Island. (I currently reside in Queens but will be moving). On the marriage license, I hyphenated my name. I wanted to keep all names (first, middle, maiden, married) but see that this is difficult. I am thinking of dropping my middle name and would like to try to make my maiden name my middle name and take my husband's name as my last name. I would like to use my maiden name when I feel like it but not HAVE to (as in hyphenate). For example: I could be Jen Smith (Smith being my "new" middle name) or Jen Jones (Jones being his surname).

    I currently have a teaching license with my maiden name. I am still using my maiden name at work as I have not made any steps yet to change my name. I haven't decided whether I'll keep using my maiden name at work or change to my married name. I'd like both options and thought if I DON'T hyphenate, that would enable me to have that option. (I also don't know if I have to have the name on my teaching license changed).

    I am worried that because I put the hyphen on the marriage license, I will not be allowed to drop my maiden name and just use it as a middle name. Could the court house issue an amended license without the hyphen if this is a problem? I am hoping one little hyphen isn't an issue to eliminate now before making any name change! I don't want the hyphen. I also read here that some people were able to make the middle name change and others weren't?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Could the court house issue an amended license without the hyphen if this is a problem?

      It's unlikely your certificate will be reissued, unless there's a mistake on their part. It shouldn't much matter anyway, as you should be able to use it as-is. It serves as proof of marriage, which is what's most important.

      I also read here that some people were able to make the middle name change and others weren't?

      You should be good to go now. There was an apparent NY DMV rules change in 2014 that now allows maiden to middle name changes without the resistance some faced. Yes, there has still been sporadic reports of those still facing problems, but it's unclear if it's the result of 1) the rule not having taken effect yet/properly, 2) the rule not fully propagating to all DMV agents, or 3) a mistake on the part of the filer, such as not bringing proper identification (e.g., prior driver's license) or proof of marriage (e.g., certified marriage certificate). The article has been updated to strike through New York as one of the states that do not allow swapping out the middle name with the maiden.

      Reply
      1. Jen

        Thank you so much for your reply! So now I'm wondering a few more things.

        Number 1: If I can make my middle name my maiden name, is it then okay to use it as a last name when I'd like (as in teaching) or do I have to always use my new last name since it is a "last" name?

        If DMV gives me a problem, is there any proof of the newest law? Could I find it online to show them?

        Did you say I should go to Social Security before DMV or vice versa?

        Lastly: Is it still correct what I read that I cannot have 2 middle names or 2 last names if I want to keep all of my names?

        Sorry for so many questions. Thank you!!!

        Reply
        1. Valera

          If I can make my middle name my maiden name, is it then okay to use it as a last name when I'd like (as in teaching) or do I have to always use my new last name since it is a "last" name?

          For legal documents, you'll want to use your full name. For other contexts, you'll want to use your best judgment. Have a look at the maiden name article for further information and discussion on the topic.

          If DMV gives me a problem, is there any proof of the newest law? Could I find it online to show them?

          Here's a reference: NY name rules updated.

          Did you say I should go to Social Security before DMV or vice versa?

          SSA first.

          Is it still correct what I read that I cannot have 2 middle names or 2 last names if I want to keep all of my names?

          AFAIK, that's not supported without a court order.

          Reply
          1. Jen

            Thanks for being so thorough in your answers!!! You are very kind!

  25. Sade

    Is it possible to have a double unhyphenated last name in NJ without petitioning the courts?

    Sade, Middle Name, Maiden Name, Married Name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sade. It's typically not allowed without a court order. Although some states may allow it, it's such a rare implementation that many official state/county/city websites don't even bother to reference its exclusion. It can be a YMMV situation. Your best option is to contact your DMV to confirm if they'll honor it. If you get a no, you can try another location(s) for confirmation.

      Reply
  26. Lucy Smith

    Hi,

    I got married to my husband in Las Vegas, NV in 2013. On my marriage certificate I kept my name as my maiden name: Lucy (Middle: Marion) Smith. I now want to change my maiden name to my middle name and also take my husbands name as my last name. Therefore the new name would be: Lucy (Smith) Cochrane.

    Now here's the tricky part. I am an Irish citizen and hold a U.S. permanent resident card and an Irish passport. Both of which are still listed as my maiden name: Lucy (Marion) Smith. I'm currently in the process of removing the 2 conditions from my green card. After that gets completed, wondering how I change everything over to my new name as Lucy (Smith) Cochrane. Need to change my passport, SS card, DMV license etc..

    Thanks!

    We now live in Portland, Oregon.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lucy. You'll get a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the vital records office. Take it to the SSA office to update your SS card. Afterward (it's a good idea to wait at least 24 hours later), then update your driver's license. This'll allow the SS database to refresh by the time the DMV queries it. You can update your passport concurrently, or later.

      Reply
  27. Jen

    Hello, I have a question is it possible to change your surname back to your maiden name while married.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Yes, but you'll have to petition the court to do so. Such a name change isn't tied to your being married. It's just considered a general adult name change that a person might choose for any number of reasons.

      Reply
  28. Carolyn

    Hi!
    I'm getting married at city hall tomorrow and have a few questions.
    I want to use my Maiden Name as my middle name. However, because we're going to get married tomorrow, I have not gotten it changed. Because I had no idea i needed to go to court to use my maiden name as my middle name.

    So do I put on my marriage license tomorrow: First, Original Middle Name and Husband's Last name?

    And do i change my middle name to my maiden name afterwards? Can i update our marriage certificate afterwards without having to annul it?

    Do I go to SSA first?
    I work in NY, but my driver's license is from California. Do i just wait to go to the DMV in California afterwards?

    Thank you in advance!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      So do I put on my marriage license tomorrow: First, Original Middle Name and Husband's Last name?

      You write it however your marriage license application instructs it. It will tell you to either put your current legal name, or the name you intend to change to. It'll be self-explanatory when you see it.

      And do i change my middle name to my maiden name afterwards?

      After you're married, you'll go through the process of completing the name change.

      Can i update our marriage certificate afterwards without having to annul it?

      Why would you need to?

      Do I go to SSA first?

      Yes.

      Do i just wait to go to the DMV in California afterwards?

      After doing the SSA, then do the DMV. Bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate with you, then you're good to go.

      Reply
  29. matthew

    Hi Valera I am getting married and I live in Louisiana. When you get your last name changed does it cost extra to change your middle name completely? Also if i elope for a same sex marriage in another state is it valid in every state?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      When you get your last name changed does it cost extra to change your middle name completely?

      No, there's no extra cost.

      Also if i elope for a same sex marriage in another state is it valid in every state?

      Yes, it sure is.

      Reply
  30. Sam

    I married 2 years ago in NJ. My wife recently decided to take my surname along with her maiden name. Currently, she has also middle name (name+middle+maiden) and she wants to omit her current middle name and use her maiden name as a middle name. (name+maiden+husband surname)

    We live in Nj and planning to move NY this month. When we move, we have to change dmv, geico, etc. I am thinking it is good time for her to take my surname.

    In marriage license (NJ) she has her original name with maiden…

    What is the first think to do under this circumstances? I read almost all the replies and there is a difference between New York and New Jersey laws, I guess. What is the easiest way to follow? Any difference when we become ny resident and apply surname changing after that? Less hassle is the best for my wife since she hate paperworks in general….

    Thanks in advance…

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sam. Well, NJ doesn't recognize moving the maiden name to the middle, so that's out. If you waited until you both moved to NY, you could change things all at once. Start with the SSA, then DMV, then everything else. In the meantime, order a certified copy of your NJ marriage certificate so you'll have that ready to go when you arrive in NY.

      Reply
  31. Sharon

    Thank you in advance for you advice, so much!

    I got married in Brooklyn 3 years ago and kept my maiden name. I am now in the process of changing my maiden to my middle, and taking my husband's last night. I now live in NJ.

    I got a new SS card no problem, and a new license. What are my next steps (besides credit cards, banks)?
    Do I need to get a new passport or can I just keep mine until it expires?
    Do I need to get a new marriage certificate?

    THANK YOU!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I got a new SS card no problem, and a new license. What are my next steps (besides credit cards, banks)?

      You're on the right track. Whatever else you can think of, such as doctors' offices, online accounts and email profiles, employer, insurance, subscriptions, and so on.

      Do I need to get a new passport or can I just keep mine until it expires?

      You can still use it and update it later. Make sure your airline tickets match the name on your passport.

      Do I need to get a new marriage certificate?

      No, your marriage certificate is stored by the vital records office. It does not change, and serves as a historical document of your marriage event.

      Reply
      1. Ruchika

        Valera-
        If you already signed and submitted your marriage license do you have to change your name to the name you listed as your intended name after marriage, or can you change your mind after the fact? I got married in CA but live in NJ and had intended to move my maiden name to my middle name and take my husband's last name- so that is what I put down on the license as my intended name. But I did not realize how involved the process was in the state of NJ. I'm now wondering if I should just drop the idea of keeping my maiden name somewhere in the mix, or just add his last name to mine (with or without hyphenation) just so I don't have to go through the petition process. I am getting mixed answers on whether or not I can still do that since my marriage certificate should be arriving any day now and cannot be changed.
        Thank you for your help!

        Reply
        1. Valera

          If you already signed and submitted your marriage license do you have to change your name to the name you listed as your intended name after marriage, or can you change your mind after the fact?

          Yes, you can change your mind. Just ignore what you specified on your license.

          Reply
    2. Ruchika

      Sharon,
      Did you go through the NJ court system for your maiden to middle-name change? How was that process, sounds so daunting. I wasn't sure because you said you got the SS card no problem and when I read the court petition process I definitely think it sounds like a lot!
      thanks!

      Reply
  32. Jessica

    Good evening! I was married back in March and already changed my last name to my new married name. Recently I've been regretting not taking my maiden name as a second middle name. What would the process for this be in South Carolina? Would I simply go to SSA and file to change my name and pay the fee?

    First, middle, maiden, married would be the order I'm looking for. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jessica. You'll have to petition the court. Once you're granted a court order, you can take it back to the SSA and change your name again.

      Reply
  33. Bonita Villaflor

    Hi , i have a kind od concern i bern married this yrs last may 15 here in the philippines then as what i seen my marriage certificate that the name of my husband was timothy michael instead that michael is his middle name is michael shawn in america could be a big deal if we just let like that but mine everything is fine i can go back to local regestear office to report it. Or what os best to do ?Answer will b very appreciated and hoping no such big problm.

    Reply
    1. Bonita Villaflor

      I did all my passport good and change all my status and we almost submitted our petition i-130 a little worry and for now theres no problm but just worry becox in america thy just used like given name and thy write all together n same line i want ask help just incase if i need to fixed first name timothy middle name michael shawn and last name is cole that i have now in my passport and other id cards

      Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Bonita. Are you saying there's a mistake with the marriage certificate that you required from the Philippines? If so, have you tried having it corrected and reissued? Is there a problem with the certificate or are you facing some other problem completing some other aspect of your name change, as you seem to suggest your passport was successfully changed without issue?

      Reply
  34. Nicole

    Hi there. I was married last year in San Francisco at city hall. When we filled out our application i did not hyphenate or list my maiden name. I now want to add my maiden name or hyphenate if possible. So I went to the social security office and clerk grabbed my paper work and told me I can not add my maiden name or hyphenate. She advised she can only go by the name on the certificate. Is there a way to add my maiden name in or hyphenate? Do I just go to city hall and request they add/change my name? Is there a fee? I was told there is a large fee to change anything on our marriage certificate. I mostly just want my maiden and married last name on my ID. Will DMV do the same as the SSI and only use my married name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there a way to add my maiden name in or hyphenate?

      You may be looking at having to get a court order.

      Do I just go to city hall and request they add/change my name? Is there a fee?

      You can try, but it's unlikely they'll change it unless the mistake is theirs.

      Will DMV do the same as the SSI and only use my married name?

      Yes.

      Reply
  35. Yesica Garay

    Hello, I'm from Texas…
    I'm want to change my last name to husband's last but I wanted to keep my maiden last name as well and maybe putting it as 1 of my middle names so could it be first middle middle and last name? Do I have to go to court to put it as 1 of my middle names, my maiden last name? Or can I just add it when I go do my ss and etc?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Yesica. While shifting your maiden name to your middle isn't a problem, appending it to an existing middle may not be recognized, especially by the DMV. You can contact your county clerk's office to inquire.

      Reply
  36. Linsey Atkinson

    Question.. I have been married for 3 years and when I got married, I dropped my middle name and put my maiden name as my middle and then took my husbands last name. Do I have the option to go back my original middle name and drop my maiden name?

    thanks,

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I have the option to go back my original middle name and drop my maiden name?

      Yes, but not without a court order.

      Reply
  37. Shannon Kish

    Recently got married and am at a loss for what to do. I am in my mid 30s and have a professional life (with a professional license and degrees) that came before my marriage. All of these documents have my current full legal name.

    I have thought about hyphenating my last name. I have also thought about adopting my maiden name as my middle name.

    Which is the easiest to do all around while still maintaining my professional life as whom I am?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shannon. Maintaining your established professional identity, even after a name change, can be done. You can read further about continuing to use your maiden name after having undergone a formal name change.

      Of course, the path of least resistance is to not change your name. Or to at least delay it until you've settled on a decision you're most comfortable with. In such circumstances, there's nothing to prevent you from informally using your spouse's name within social contexts while not actually having changed it for real.

      Reply
  38. Alia

    Hi! I am getting married in about 2 weeks and just filed for my marriage license (in Georgia). When I asked about changing my middle name (I just want to make it a single initial, instead of a name), the court clerk said that's something I have to do at the social security office and dmv. Will I have to legally change my middle name now, going through the whole process, or will I be able to do it any easier?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alia. It's doubtful that'll fly. You can inquire if they'll allow your initial to be printed on your document, while having it entered within their database as your full name. You may have greater luck with the DMV than SSA, but I doubt either would actually honor the request. Going through the courts is a clear-cut way to accomplish your goal, assuming you're unable to get it done through the married name change route.

      Reply
  39. Alejandra

    Hello,

    I've always lived in California, but got married in Las Vegas in May 2014. My name on the marriage certificate is First Name Last Name (I don't have a middle name). The application in Las Vegas did not state to list the name change I wanted like I've read California does. I have not changed my name because I read some time ago that California was one of the states that would not allow a maiden name to become a middle name without a court petition. I do not want to entirely drop my maiden name and would like to do First Maiden Married. Do you know if this is possible without having to do the court petition?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alejandra. You should be fine using your Nevada marriage certificate as-is. California does permit maiden to middle name changes.

      Reply
  40. Margarita

    I'm getting married soon. I wonder if I can change my first name (from Margarita to Maggie) add my last name as middle name and use my future husband last name in the estate of Texas.
    Actual Margarita Coromoto Perez
    New Maggie Perez Rivera
    Thanks,

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Margarita. You'd have to petition the court to change your first name.

      Reply
  41. EM

    Hi,
    I recently changed my name through a court petition putting my maiden name as my middle name. Though, I'm starting to realize that many forms only require the middle name initial, when in reality I'd like my full name to print on my document. So I've been adding it to my given name, do you think that will be a problem in the future?

    Ex.
    Legal: Mary (given) Little(Maiden) Lamb (New surname)
    Form that don't allow me to write my full middle name: Mary Little (given) Lamb (New Surname)
    Rather than: Mary L. Lamb
    I want my name to read Mary Little Lamb

    Any help would be appreciated!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi EM. It depends on the document and organization. Unless the organization is performing name look-ups to verify your credentials, it's unlikely to bubble up into a real problem.

      Reply
  42. Mayra

    What is the maximum characters allowed for names on a NJ driver license? Does this vary by state? I'd like to take my husband's last name while keeping my maiden name. Will: 5 characters (first name) + 4 characters (maiden name) and + 11 characters (husband's last name) –not hyphenated– fit on the NJ driver's license? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mayra. It used to be nine letters for the first name. It's been a longstanding issue with the NJ MVC clipping names due to database length limitations. It was supposed to be updated in 2014 to accommodate 50, 30, 50 for the first, middle, and last name.

      Reply
  43. Mary kate

    My fiancé and I live in Massachusetts but are getting married in ct. I would like to change my name to:first /middle/ maiden as second middle /name his last name. Is this possible? And in what state do I need to change it?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mary. While it may be possible with the SSA, you should contact your RMV to confirm it. Since you're residents of Mass, you'll change it there. You'll need to order a certified copy of your marriage certificate from Connecticut though.

      Reply
  44. Cathy

    I have been married for decades, and have used my maiden name as my middle name in banking and mortgage statements for at least 10 years. Now I want to make it official on my driver's license. Should I go to SSA first , then DMV. I no longer have anything with just my maiden name on it–except my original SS card. Would that be enough? I live in CT.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Cathy. Correct, go to the SSA first, then DMV. Bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate with you. Bring any useful supporting documentation/identification which confirms your use of the name you've been using all these years to confirm you identity.

      Reply
    2. Cathy

      Thank you –I am planning to do this next week and will bring my old SS card, mortgage statement and marriage certificate and anything else that seems pertinant.

      Reply
      1. Cathy

        It went very smoothly at the SSA office. Most important document was marriage license and my driver's license. So now my official middle name is my maiden name, which makes my happy. Next stop if the DMV–I have to wait 48 hours.

        Reply
      2. Cathy

        I just want to reiterate that the SSA was most concerned with my marriage license and my current driver's license and birth certificate.

        Reply
      3. Cathy

        No luck at DMV today–I need to get a passport with my "new" name –that would be the easiest and less expensive than probate court. DMV was adamant I needed "proof" of the name change. Not as easy as I thought.

        Reply
  45. Jennifer

    I was married two months ago in New York State. When I applied for the marriage certificate the application asked for my new last name. It did not ask for a new middle name. I wanted to change my middle name to my maiden name and take my husband's surname. The marriage license has my first name, middle name at birth and new last name.
    Will I be able to change my middle name to my maiden name with social security if it isn't printed on the marriage certificate this way? Also will this pose a problem when changing my name with the dmv? Thanks for your help!

    Reply
  46. See

    I was married 9 years ago in Nevada and now residing in California. At the time I didn't think about making my maiden name as my middle name. And, now I want to. How do I go about it? I just have a first and last. No middle name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi See. If you haven't yet changed your name in all these years, first step is to get a certified copy of your marriage certificate from Nevada. You'll have to get it from the county recorder in the county where the marriage took place. Use that document to change your name in California with the various government and non-government institutions.

      If you did change your name, way back when, then you'll have to go through the court petition process to change your name again.

      Reply
  47. Jen

    I got married a few months ago and have already changed my name to the new hyphenated name that is on the marriage certificate (my surname-husband's surname), but I would like to drop the hypenation and just take his name. Does this require a court petition or just the usual name change process? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jen. In order for it to be recognized and reflected on your official documents, it'll have to be by court petition.

      Reply
  48. Mrose Galang

    hi valera! hope you can help me. i just had my citizenship interview last week and i was asked by the consul what name do i prefer? on our marriage certificate, my middle name there is my mom's maiden name. After i get married, i have been using my first name (given name), maiden name (last name when i was still single), and my husband's last name.

    The consul said if i want my middle name as my maiden name, all i have to do is go to SSA and have my card changed. On the otherhand, if i want to use my maiden name as my middle name, it requires a court order that would put my application for citizenship longer.

    all of my documents, nurse licenses, sea card, dmv, bank accounts are all FIRST NAME, MAIDEN NAME (LAST NAME WHEN I WAS STILL SINGLE), LAST NAME (HUSBAND'S LAST NAME).

    So which is really the correct one that does not require a court order. Please help! Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      if i want my middle name as my maiden name, all i have to do is go to SSA

      …snip…

      On the otherhand, if i want to use my maiden name as my middle name, it requires a court order

      These two read the same to me. Please clarify with an example.

      Even with that said, when it comes to citizenship matters, it's best to defer to your counsel considering not every state recognizes changes to the middle name as part of the marriage name changing process.

      Reply
  49. april martinez

    hi I married in 2014 changed my name and all tht was wondering can i take my maiden name and use it as my middle name?? do I need to go to court or just to ss office? I live in Michigan

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi April. If you've already changed it once after marriage, you'll have to go to court to change it again.

      Reply
  50. Lindsay

    Valera – thank you for all of the helpful info!!

    I got married in DE and the name on the certificate is my first, middle and last. I lived in NYC and have a NY license. We just bought in Hoboken so I will be a NJ resident for the forseable future,meaning I have to get a NJ liscence. I want to change my name to first, maiden then my husbands last name and need to get a NJ license in the process.

    What is the best course of action knowing the issues in NJ and NYC with making your middle name your maiden name (which I don't get!!) and the need to get a new liscence. Thank you!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lindsay. NJ doesn't currently recognize a switch from maiden to middle. You'd be looking at having to go through a court petitioned name change in order to replace your middle name.

      Reply
  51. Ann Rose Collett

    I was married 22 years ago and always used my middle and last name before I married – I didn't go by my first name. When I married and went to change my name at the SSN office they had no issue letting me change to middle, maiden and husbands last name.

    When I wanted to change my drivers license to be the same as SSN at the Alabama DMV, I was told I could not – AL state law does not allow one to drop first name, but they had no problem putting first, middle, maiden and husband's last on my drivers license.

    I few years ago, I was told when I renewed my driver's license by a DMV employees I would have to get the name on my driver license and SSN the same or I would "problems". I couldn't get any clarification of what "problems" when I asked so I later called a different AL DMV office and they said they had never heard of that. I was recently told again by a DMV person that it would cause me problems when I file for SSN if my driver's license and SSN were not exactly alike.

    Given the SSN matches the name I have use for 22 years on employment records, credit cards, home loans, etc it seems the name that is out of sync is my AL driver's license name, but AL won't let me drop the first name.What do you recommend I do ? Are you aware of any issue with filing for SSN when the name on that card matches employment records but not exactly the same as AL driver's license ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      When I wanted to change my drivers license to be the same as SSN at the Alabama DMV, I was told I could not – AL state law does not allow one to drop first name

      Are you saying you successfully changed your first name with the SSA using just your marriage certificate 22 years ago? Even if that's the case, it's not surprising the DMV of today won't recognize a first name change.

      I few years ago, I was told when I renewed my driver's license by a DMV employees I would have to get the name on my driver license and SSN the same or I would "problems". I couldn't get any clarification of what "problems" when I asked so I later called a different AL DMV office and they said they had never heard of that.

      I doubt the clerk meant anything ominous. By problems, it's likely they'll just not be able to renew your license without sufficient supporting documentation.

      I was recently told again by a DMV person that it would cause me problems when I file for SSN if my driver's license and SSN were not exactly alike.

      Your license does need to match your social security card.

      Given the SSN matches the name I have use for 22 years on employment records, credit cards, home loans, etc it seems the name that is out of sync is my AL driver's license name

      Correct.

      What do you recommend I do ?

      Getting a court ordered name change would resolve it. The driver's license office would accept such a document to change your name within their records.

      Are you aware of any issue with filing for SSN when the name on that card matches employment records but not exactly the same as AL driver's license ?

      Doubtful, since your employment records match what's in SSA's records. It would be worth phoning your local SSA office and pose this question to them.

      Reply
  52. Michael

    We're getting married end of this year (2016). I never liked my middle name and saw briefly somewhere that California allows male to change names. I specifically want to change my middle name. How would exactly this work? I mean what is allowed and not allowed?

    For example Michael Bernard Doe I would want Michael Joseph Doe when we apply to get married with my lovely woman of my dream :-)

    Thanks.

    Reply
      1. Michael

        Hi Valera, I checked the link you provided. It does not say anything about middle name as I specifically mentioned in this thread. It only says male can take spouse's last name with no further info on other issues as mine.

        Thanks

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Michael. The California page has been updated to include further information about just changing the middle name portion, under the "Either party…" subsection.

          Yes, you may be able to change your middle name, as long as it meets the following criteria: You can change your middle name to your spouse's last birth name, or spouse's current last name, or a hyphenated combo of your middle name and your spouse's current/birth last name.

          Any arbitrary name change outside those boundaries are not recognized.

          Reply
      2. Michael

        Hmmm…I checked further on Google and found one thing that makes me wonder. Maybe you can help?

        I'll select the specific to my case…

        It states: "Each party to the marriage may adopt any of the following middle names: The last name of either spouse given at birth"

        For that, do I or my fiancé have to show proof of the birth name in order for me to take other than her current last name?

        For example, her birth name is Jane Doe, current is Jane Smith and I want Doe in my middle name. Or would California clerk accept what we write in our application for marriage?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          For that, do I or my fiancé have to show proof of the birth name in order for me to take other than her current last name?

          When you and your spouse apply for a marriage license both will have to specify your birth names. So, when you specify you'll be taking her birth name as your middle name, there will be a reference right there on the application. There's also an affidavit section on the application where you declare (under penalty of perjury) that what you're filling out is true (to the best of your knowledge). So, it's possible they'll just take your word for it.

          Still, the best thing to do is phone the county clerk's office where you'll be applying for your license and asking them if you'll need to bring along a certified copy of her birth certificate. You could also call the Vital Records office (916-445-2684), but county clerk would be better.

          Reply
          1. Michael

            Thank you, Valera. I will call them and see what's the specific requirements if they said they'll take our words, GREAT if not then we will need to gather proof before we go there.

            Happy New Year!

  53. L M West

    Hi – I have always gone by my MIDDLE name my entire life. I want to take my husband's last name, but I also want to keep my maiden name. I live in New Jersey. What kind of fun is in store for me? :)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi L. Well, maiden to maiden is out, unless you want to go to court. NJ is one of the few states that don't recognize it. So, if you're looking to go through a marriage-based name change to keep your maiden name in the mix, you're looking at hyphenation. Otherwise, it's court in order to maintain any configuration of your name, including your middle and middle in whichever combination your prefer.

      Reply
  54. Jenn

    Hi. I am a resident of Missouri. When I divorced five years ago, I kept my ex husbands last name so I could have the same last name as my kids.

    I got remarried last year and would like to take my new husband's name, but would like to make my current last name my new middle name. So first name, ex husbands/current last moved to middle, new husbands name as last. Can I do this without a court order? Thanks!

    Reply
  55. Stephanie

    Hi there! I live in Texas and I am getting married in June. I would like to make my maiden name my second middle name when I take my future husbands last name. Is this possible to do in Texas, and if so, is it complicated to do? Does it make everything else complicated?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Stephanie. I don't believe that's supported, as it would constitute creating a new name.

      Reply
  56. Pauli Swartwood-Haynes

    Hi!
    My daughter is getting married and she wants to change her middle name to a completely different name than her current middle name or maiden name. She is planning on taking her future husband's last name as her own.
    Is this difficult to do?…or do you need to petition the Clerk of Court in the state/county we live in which is North Carolina?

    Thank you,
    Pauli

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Pauli. You're on the right track. Yes, your daughter would be looking at petitioning the court.

      Reply
  57. Lev

    What if I just want to drop my middle entirely? I'L soon renew my NY driver's license, considering EDL, but don't want the middle. Is that possible?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lev. I don't believe so. You'll have to contact the NY driver's license to confirm if they'll accept removing your middle name.

      Reply
  58. Lynn

    Great site, very informative. I was married to my late husband for 20 years and had children. I remarried and took my new husbands last name. Unfortunately that marriage ended in divorce and I didn’t realize I could go back my late husband’s last name. I am now getting married again and want to change my middle name to my late husband’s name and take my new husbands name as my last name. I live in Georgia, and am getting married in Tennessee. Is this allowed and how would I go about doing it while applying for a marriage license?

    Reply
  59. Puja Chokshi

    Hey is the state rule depend on where you were married or where you currently reside? I was married in Ohio but currently live in Washington, DC and have a license and we bought a home in DC. I am wondering what the process is to make my maiden name my middle name in this situation. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Puja. It's where you reside. You can just go about a regular marriage-based name change, as you normally would.

      Reply
  60. Merisenda

    I was born and am currently living in California. However, I was married in Massachusetts. I had started the name change process there – just with my social security card. I added my spouse's last name and made my mom's maiden name my middle name. (technically, it used to be my last name, but I was legally adopted by my stepdad and my original last name wasn't carried over).This didn't seem to be an issue with the SSA, I brought my marriage certificate and when they asked where I got my new middle name from I pointed out that it's my mom's maiden name (listed on the certificate). I got my new SSN card with the name I wanted.

    However, I went to the DMV today (in California) to attempt to change my name on my license. They wouldn't do it. They said the SSA made a mistake and shouldn't have allowed me to make my mother's maiden name my middle name, and I would have to go back to the SSA and change my name to just my first name and spouse's last name if I want to renew my license, or show some document that shows my previous name containing that name. This seems like such a headache, if it worked for the SSA, I don't see why it's such a hassle with the DMV since they verify my name with the SSA anyway..

    Anyway, what's the best way to deal with this? Just do as the DMV said?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Merisenda. You can try ordering a certified copy of your birth certificate which shows your prior name.

      Reply
  61. PJ

    Hi, I got married in Pennslyvania (where I am from) in October 2015. We currently live in Minnesota. I want to keep my middle name (which is short) and maiden name and still add my married name and I do not want to hyphenate. Can I add my maiden name to my middle name easily? It would be First name, 2 middle names, married name?
    Or is it better to do First name, middle, two last names with no hyphen?
    Our PA marriage license states my husbands full name and my current name (with maiden only) were married.

    My main question is how can I keep maiden name somewhere, whether I add to my middle or just add my married name to my maiden name? I only have my certified marriage certificate which I mentioned previously. And I was just going to fill out the SSN forms and go with my marriage certificate.
    Help! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi PJ. In Minnesota, hyphenated is fine. It's unclear if a spaced name would be recognized. Any potential difficulty could be with the DMV. Appending your maiden to your middle is not recognized; replacing your middle with your maiden is.

      Reply
  62. Monica Corcelles Jones

    Hi. I need some help I was married 2014 but I was misspelled the middle name of my mother it was supposed to be Solvera but I mistake to wrote down Sulvera is there a possibility that I could change it? Here in the united states I'm from Philippines and married here. I appreciate the response and help. Monica from MaryLand

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Monica. If you're referring to your marriage certificate, contact the state/county vital records office where you marriage certificate is filed and request information about how to correct your record due to a typo.

      Reply
  63. Linda

    Do you know how it works in ma? The ma.gov website doesn't mention this topic at all. Several sources from 6 years ago mentioned that you need a court order to change your maiden name to your middle name in MA. Is that still the case? It wasn't in your list so I wonder if it has changed. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Linda. You'd change your name as you normally would. No special procedure.

      Reply
  64. Maria

    Hello, I was married back in 2015 and I'm finally ready to get my name changed. I have my marriage certificate ready, but from the beginning I was not told to put my married name on the certificate, was this wrong? And if I keep my last name and add on my husbands can I still be referred to as Mrs.(husband last name) or will it be Mrs. (my last name, husband last name)?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maria. Yes, you can change it fine. Not all states provide an option to specify the name you intend to change to. How you're referred to is an informal matter, so it's whichever you prefer for a given situation.

      Reply
  65. Lindsay

    I got married in Colorado with a and signed my name "FirstName MaidenName Husband'sLastName" because that was how they told me I needed to sign it in order to change my middle name to my maiden name legally post marriage. I went to my local SSA office in Des Moines, Iowa, and they refused to change my middle name because it wasn't typed out on the certificate. I called to other states and even another office in Iowa, as well as the court and a judge who deals with the name change petitions in Des Moines, and everyone else told me that according to my marriage license, this shouldn't be a problem. What gives?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lindsay. I'm not sure what they're speaking about. You can try another clerk/office. Name change documents can also be submitted by mail.

      Reply
  66. Virginia A Knox

    I got married in Virginia but live in New York. I have never gone by my first name – always my middle name – and I now want my name on my documents to be middle name maiden name husband's last name. (So, from Jane Ann Doe to Ann Doe Jones, for example.) Will I have to get a legal name change to do that, or can I just make that change at social security and proceed from there? It looks like it has gotten easier in NY to make some name changes, but I'm not sure if the one I want is easy (or cheap). My husband and I are going to be buying a house soon and I'd like all name changes to be done by then.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Virginia. First name changes do indeed require you go to court.

      Reply
  67. Meagan

    Hi. I'm getting married soon in Michigan and would like to completely eliminate my middle name. Can I do this on our marriage license or marriage certificate? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Meagan. Even if you omit it from your marriage license/certificate, it wouldn't legally result in the dropping of your middle name.

      Reply
  68. Lucero

    Hi, I am from Texas and got married a year ago but have not changed my name because I do not want to give up my maiden name and I do not want to hypen my last name with my husbands last name because they are so long. I am glad I found this blog and see a lot of people do put their maiden name as their middle name. I do not have a middle name, so I would go from Lucero E. to Lucero E. S. Would this need to go to court? Thank you!

    Reply
  69. Hrisimira Philippe

    Hello, i have a question. I am married for american citizen and im goin through the process to get my papers, but i would like to keep my last name instead my middle name and ofcourse take my husbands last name. Is that possible ? and what should i do ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Hrisimira. You can take a new name during the naturalization process.

      Reply
  70. Lisa

    Hi, I live in NY and am getting married in a few weeks. I want to add my maiden name as a second middle name so my name would be First Middle Maiden Husbands Last name. On the marriage license do I put First Middle Husbands last and then try to add the maiden name as a middle at SS office? Or do I do the marriage license as First Middle Maiden and then do the change at the SS office? Thanks so much, this is such a helpful site!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lisa. If a marriage license has a block to denote your new name, specify it there. Having said that, I don't believe a double middle name through marriage is recognized in NY.

      Reply
  71. Alyssa

    Hi Valera,

    I live in Indiana and I am getting married in about 2 and 1/2 weeks. I'm trying to decide whether to have a dual middle name or a nonhyphenated dual last name. I would casually go by my new husband's name, but I just don't want to drop my current middle name or my maiden name. Is it easier to make the transition to a dual middle name or a dual last name? Not just legally, but in terms of bills, credit cards, etc.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alyssa. Dual middle name would result in less complications due to the fact that it will be referenced considerably less than your last name.

      Reply
  72. CJ

    Hi Valera,

    I read the through all the comments and I'm not entirely sure if this was answered. I live in NJ and got married Oct. 2015. My full name includes my mother's maiden name as my middle name. If I want to take my husband's last name and drop my middle name (since I won't be using my maiden name), I would still have to go through a court petitioned name change?

    And the same answer goes with if i decide to change my middle name to my maiden name and then take my husband's last name correct?

    Reply
  73. Bethany

    Hello! I'm about to get Married in Montana using a double proxy since we live in Germany. I was born in Vermont. I want to change my name to First Middle Maiden Husband's name. Would that be possible?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Bethany. Support for double names is typically not supported or is ambiguous, at best. Best course of action is to contact the driver's license office to confirm support. And even with positive confirmation, you could be at the mercy of whichever agent/clerk determines what is and is not recognized.

      Reply
  74. Aviva

    Hello! I'm going to be getting married soon in Indiana. I plan on changing my legal name to "FirstName MyMaiden HisSurname", however I intended to change the spelling of my maiden name. My family's name was anglicized after they moved to the United States and I'd like to go back to the older spelling. It has been multiple generations since that spelling was used so there are not any legal documents with it listed, however the pronunciation is clearly the same. I haven't seen anything on Indiana's laws regarding what exactly is allowed during marriage name change procedures. Do you think this would require a petition or would it be allowed through the regular process? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Aviva. Changing a character in your maiden name would require a petition.

      Reply
  75. Sarah

    When I get married, I want to take my husband's last name. The question is this: No one calls me by my first name so i was wondering if when i change my social security card, instead of using my first, last and married last name can i use my middle, last and married last name, dropping my first name? Example – If Susan Ann Brown was my birth name and I am marrying a Smith, Can I use Ann Brown Smith instead of Susan Brown Smith or Susan Ann Smith?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      The question is this: No one calls me by my first name so i was wondering if when i change my social security card, instead of using my first, last and married last name can i use my middle, last and married last name, dropping my first name?

      No, this wouldn't be accepted. You'll have to get a court order for such a change.

      Reply
  76. Dena Theiss

    I'll be getting married next month in West Virginia. I plan on taking my husband's last name. My question is this….can I change my middle name to something completely different? Like not my maiden name or anything like that? Would this make the process more involved?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      can I change my middle name to something completely different? Like not my maiden name or anything like that?

      This can only be done with a court order.

      Reply
  77. Georgia

    Hi Valera,

    I am recently married in Georgia, and would like to change my name to First OriginalMiddle MaidenLast MarriedLast, with both the OriginalMiddle and MaidenLast as middle names rather than having a double last name. It seems that Georgia allows changing a Maiden name to a Middle name, but I'm not sure about appending it to an existing middle name. I filled out the marriage license application using MarriedLast as the last name I intended to use after marriage but there was no place to change the middle name on that form.

    Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Georgia. As you surmised, a dual middle name is unlikely to be accepted without having something such as a court order.

      As for there not being a spot to specify a new middle name, that's not uncommon in many states. Not all states setup their marriage license applications to specify what the "change to" name will be, if any. Those forms are only concerned with your current name.

      The marriage certificate you ultimately receive will serve as your proof of marriage to allow you to go through the marriage-based name change process. At that point, what you're allowed to change to will be determined by state law, and, sometimes, the flexibility and interpretation of the agent you end up dealing with.

      Reply
  78. Cera J

    Hi Valera,

    In Ohio and marrying soon. I'd like to be FirstName MiddleName Maiden(as 2nd middle) HusbandLast.

    Would it be "easier" to petition for second middle name before marriage, or does it not matter when? State laws are annoyingly confusing to decode into layman terms. Calling the marriage license office was comical, unfortunately. Thanks in advance :-)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Would it be "easier" to petition for second middle name before marriage, or does it not matter when?

      It doesn't matter when.

      Reply
  79. Laurel Moser

    I have used my maiden name as my middle name for 28 years. I made this change when I married. It is on every document and account (IRS, retirement, heath insurance, Social Security, driver's license, bank, etc.) that is associated with me. Going for a Real I.D. driver's license in Nevada, I am told I have to use the middle name on my birth certificate, requiring me to change my name with every account and agency I am associated with. Is this correct? Clearly, my maiden name is on my birth certificate. Why can't I have it on my driver's license? (It has been on my driver's license since 1988.)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Laurel. Are you certain you've brought along the three necessary pieces of documentation: proof of identity, proof of SSN, proof of state residency? Also, Real ID should still optional for the time being. You should be able to renew using a standard license.

      Reply

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