482 Comments

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

Marriage Name Change Options

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

Choosing your spouse's last name

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

Hyphenating

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

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

Blending names

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

Spouse name legally and maiden name professionally

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

Maiden as middle and last name of your spouse

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

Male spouse taking wife's name

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

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

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

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

The "Usage Method"

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

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

Divorce Name Change

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

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

Divorce finalized, but you forgot to restore your maiden name

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

Divorce not finalized—restore your maiden name

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

General Adult Name Change

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

Prepare your name change forms

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

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

Publishing a notice of your name change in the newspaper

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

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

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

Child Name Changes

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

If both parents agree to change the child's name

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

If only one parent agrees, while the other opposes

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

Guardians vs Parents

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

Change of Name on Birth Certificate

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

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

Changing Name on Social Security, DMV, Passport, IRS

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

Other Non-Governmental Institutions

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

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

Recognized Identity Documents for Your Name Change

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

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

All documents need to be certified copies or originals.

482 Comments

  1. Mary

    We got married civilly last year. On the marriage certificate, I dropped my mom's maiden name (which was my middle name), made my last name as a middle name, and made my husband's last name my last name. Can I still professionally use my middle name as my last name? Also, it's been a year since we got married. Do I ever legally have to turn in my marriage certificate to SSN? I'm a physician, and therefore, I'd like to keep my name… do I have to turn that into the medical board?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I still professionally use my middle name as my last name?

      Informally, you can, but when it delves into legal and taxation areas you may want to look into something such as a DBA in your middle name.

      Do I ever legally have to turn in my marriage certificate to SSN?

      If you've only stated an intention to change your name, which is reflected on the marriage certificate, and nowhere else, then your name hasn't legally changed.

      You're not required to notify the SSA if you choose not to go forward with the name change.

      I'm a physician, and therefore, I'd like to keep my name… do I have to turn that into the medical board?

      Same as above.

      Reply
  2. Christine Sanapaw

    Question… I kept my last name from a previous marriage but I plan to re-marry. Do I need to change back to my maiden name before applying for a marriage license???

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to change back to my maiden name before applying for a marriage license?

      No, your current name or prior marriage has no impact on whether you'll be issued a marriage license.

      Reply
  3. Jessica

    Hi,

    You mention above "You can legally go with the spouse's name while keeping your maiden name for professional matters." How does this work?

    I wish to keep my maiden name and add my fiancé's last name as well, I guess that would mean two last names? Can I use both names interchangeably? This is important to me because my professional license is in my maiden name, and I wish to go by this name professionally. But I will use my fiancé's last name socially.

    On the online application fo CA, I have to list my new last name, do I just put both names down without a hyphen? "Maidenname Newname". Or, if I use both names as my last name (without hypen), do I have to always list both last names? Can I go by Dr. Maidenname and Mrs. Newname? I hope my question makes sense.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I wish to keep my maiden name and add my fiancé's last name as well, I guess that would mean two last names?

      Yes, with or without a hyphen.

      Can I use both names interchangeably?

      Your full surname name is your legal name. On legal documents, contracts, taxes, etc, you'll use your full name. For other purposes, it's up to you.

      This is important to me because my professional license is in my maiden name, and I wish to go by this name professionally. But I will use my fiancé's last name socially.

      You can look into registering a DBA in your maiden name. This keeps your professional name and social name separate.

      On the online application fo CA, I have to list my new last name, do I just put both names down without a hyphen? "Maidenname Newname".

      Correct, if you're opting for a space-separated (a.k.a. double-barreled) name change, you'd specify "maiden_name new_name".

      Or, if I use both names as my last name (without hypen), do I have to always list both last names?

      What you put on your application is the name you'll be able to change to. It's what will be printed on your license and subsequent certificate.

      Can I go by Dr. Maidenname and Mrs. Newname? I hope my question makes sense.

      As mentioned above, you can use your full name in legal circumstances and just your maiden or new name in informal situations.

      You may want to review the maiden name after marriage article which delves into this further.

      Reply
  4. andrea

    During marriage my husbands last name was put onto the marriage license . I now changed my name back to my maiden name via a name change (we are still married) but our original marriage certificate states I have taken on his last name . How can that be changed on the document or what can I do to get the marriage certificate to take it off it confuses quite a bit when i have to show the marriage license and then they see the name change document .

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Andrea. You can only modify the marriage certificate if there's an error. Your situation doesn't quality.

      The certificate is considered a historical record. A snapshot in time. Even if you were to successfully modify your record, the change would likely just be an addendum stapled to the certificate citing your new name, while the old name remained visible.

      Reply
  5. Brandi

    I'm currently: First Middle Maiden

    I would like to change all three names to:
    'First Middle' Maiden Last

    Is this possible in California?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is this possible in California?

      It's not possible through marriage. Instead, you'll have to go through the courts to change your first name.

      Reply
  6. Gina

    Hi Valera,

    I live in CA and will be getting married here next month. I previously lost a son and am hoping that since I am changing my name via marriage anyway, I would like to change my middle name to include my son's middle name and take my fiancé's last name as my new last name: First name, current middle name and son's middle name, husbands last name. Can I do this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I would like to change my middle name to include my son's middle name

      Although California offers a host of flexible name change options for the middle and last name, you'd actually have to petition the court to apply your son's name to any part of your name.

      Reply
  7. Michael

    We are in San Mateo County, CA. My wife indicated on our marriage license that she would like to take my last name. However, after the license was issued (and now that a marriage certificate has been issued) – she has changed her mind and would like to keep her maiden name.

    We asked the clerk when submitting the completed license and the clerk told her that she would have to go to court to have her name changed back to her maiden name (and pay the $435 fee).

    From reading your posts here it sounds like her name has not changed legally (since she has not contacted SSA, DMV, etc) and that she merely has the option of changing her name but legally her name is still exactly what it was before we got married. Can you confirm that that is true? Do you have any idea why the clerk would tell us that she would need to go to court to have her name changed back if it had never actually changed? Thank you!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      We asked the clerk when submitting the completed license and the clerk told her that she would have to go to court to have her name changed back to her maiden name (and pay the $435 fee).

      From reading your posts here it sounds like her name has not changed legally (since she has not contacted SSA, DMV, etc)

      Correct.

      …and that she merely has the option of changing her name but legally her name is still exactly what it was before we got married. Can you confirm that that is true?

      Correct again.

      Do you have any idea why the clerk would tell us that she would need to go to court to have her name changed back if it had never actually changed?

      The clerk said this because she thought your wife actually did change her name with the SSA and DMV. It was simply a false presumption on the clerk's part.

      Reply
  8. Nicole

    Hello, I recently received my marriage certificate with my husbands name, but realized I want to hyphenate my name instead.

    When I change my SS/DL/Passport/etc., will I be ok to request a hyphenated name there even though my marriage certificate says otherwise?

    Thanks for your help!
    Nicole

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nicole. If you're changing your name in California, they'll only change it to what's specified on your certificate.

      Reply
      1. Nicole

        Hi Valera,

        Thanks for getting back to me!

        So since I had indicated my husbands last name on the certificate, I don’t have the option to hyphenate without submitting other types of paperwork?

        Would I be able to go back to the court to revise / what are my options?

        Thanks for your help!
        Nicole

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Nicole. At this point, you'd have to petition a California Superior Court for a name change.

          Reply
  9. Ashley

    Hi,
    I have a question, last June I got married but did not change my name. I kept my maiden name instead. Now, I am wishing to change my last name to husbands. We got married in California but are in Hawaii now due to the military. If I want to change my last name before december, what steps would I need to do?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ashley. You'd use a certified copy of your California marriage certificate to change your name with the various federal and state institutions.

      Reply
      1. Ashley

        How do I go about doing that? I just have to bring my marriage certificate in somewhere and request to change it? Where would I need to bring it? Thanks!

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Ashley. Yes, your marriage certificate is what you'll need to bring. Start with the SSA, then DMV, then passport office.

          Reply
  10. Jamila

    Hello Valera,
    I have very difficult first name almost unreadable, all consonant letters. I am going to go to apply for citizenship and want to change my name. But I'm getting married and want to have a normal name and take my husband's surname. Can I change my first and last name when I marry, or do I need to marry only after I have obtained citizenship and changed my first name.
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jamila. You can change your first name through the citizenship process, but not through marriage.

      Reply
  11. Yueni

    I recently got married (CA) my maiden name was Jaramillo-Rivera, now that I’m married I took his last name and now I’m Diaz-Jaramillo as stated on the marriage license. I have various questions for one do I have to change my SSA, drivers license, car title, etc to my marriage name or can I leave it as my maiden name? If I don’t am I legally still known as my new married last name? What problems may this cause in the future if I don’t change it?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      do I have to change my SSA, drivers license, car title, etc to my marriage name or can I leave it as my maiden name?

      No, you do not have to change your last name. You can leave it alone.

      If I don’t am I legally still known as my new married last name?

      Your current legal name is still your maiden name, not what's specified on your marriage certificate.

      What problems may this cause in the future if I don’t change it?

      None.

      Reply
  12. MC

    Hello-

    I will be getting married in California in 3 months. I am not interested in hyphenating. I’m considering two name changes:

    1. First Name, Drop middle name and replace with Maiden name, his last name. Am I able to drop my middle name and replace it with my maiden name on the marriage certificate alone? Or do I also need to petition the court to change my middle name?

    2. First Name, Middle name, Maiden name, his last name. Does this require any court process? If I keep my middle name am I required to write out my full name on all documents? Or can I just use the middle name initial? Would my full name be required to be listed with DMV, SSA?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      1. First Name, Drop middle name and replace with Maiden name, his last name. Am I able to drop my middle name and replace it with my maiden name on the marriage certificate alone? Or do I also need to petition the court to change my middle name?

      You do not need to go to court for this sort of name change. Specify this choice on your marriage application.

      2. First Name, Middle name, Maiden name, his last name. Does this require any court process?

      This will work as well.

      If I keep my middle name am I required to write out my full name on all documents?

      You'll have to follow the instruction of whichever document you're dealing with at the time.

      Or can I just use the middle name initial? Would my full name be required to be listed with DMV, SSA?

      Yes.

      Reply
  13. Merri

    Hello,
    We live in California and were married last October in Las Vegas. Can I change SSA and DMV and all other documents to a non-hyphenated combination of both of our last names? I would like to show my name as first, middle, my lastname his lastname.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I change SSA and DMV and all other documents to a non-hyphenated combination of both of our last names? I would like to show my name as first, middle, my lastname his lastname.

      You can have a non-hyphenated last name, also referred to as a double-barrelled name, as long as the last names are fully intact. You can't slice off a portion of either name with this option. If you were combining names without a hyphen or space, then you could perform a cut and rearrange.

      Caveat: Of course, since your marriage already took place, you wouldn't be able to depart from what was specified on the application, license, and certificate.

      Reply
  14. Jay

    We recently got married in California at the City Hall (Couple days ago… 2) and decided to combine our last names on the certificate. Unfortunately we are getting push back from both of our families and to prevent our families from going nuclear, we've agreed to adopt my sole last name instead. Was hoping to see what would be the best case or options.

    1) Assuming, I don't have to do anything since I won't need to report the name change to SSA?
    2) What would be best way for my spouse to adopt my last name? Certificate would show combined last name, would it be still possible to change to my own or would we have to go through court? Also is there the possibility of adding her current maiden name as her middle name?
    3) Since we've recently got married and when we called we were told we can change it after 10 days, is this true? Called today

    Reply
    1. Valera

      1) Assuming, I don't have to do anything since I won't need to report the name change to SSA?

      If nothing's changed, there's nothing to report.

      2) What would be best way for my spouse to adopt my last name? Certificate would show combined last name, would it be still possible to change to my own or would we have to go through court?

      You'd have to go to superior court, as your certificate is no longer usable for a name change through marriage.

      Also is there the possibility of adding her current maiden name as her middle name?

      This can be changed through the court process as well.

      3) Since we've recently got married and when we called we were told we can change it after 10 days, is this true? Called today

      The law limits changes to your marriage record for corrections and not changes of heart for your name change choice. Perhaps a county clerk is willing to change it for you and cite it as a correction?

      Reply
  15. roubina zargarian

    Hi I am getting married in 2 days and I decided to change my last name on the marriage certificate as my husbands. I never thought about it and just said yes. When we came home I realized that for my business purposes I don't want to show a changed name and it will hurt all my experience and people might not recognize me with the new last name I really want to use my maiden name on all papers. Do I have to change my maiden name on all legal documents?

    Can i just change it back to my maiden name now that we have not done the ceremony yet? or I can keep it on my marriage license and don not go through any legal name changes.

    Thank you for your help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      When we came home I realized that for my business purposes I don't want to show a changed name and it will hurt all my experience and people might not recognize me with the new last name I really want to use my maiden name on all papers.

      If you do ultimately decide to move forward with a legal name change, one way to maintain your current name for business purposes is by registering a DBA in your maiden name.

      Do I have to change my maiden name on all legal documents?

      Specifying a new name on your marriage application/license doesn't change it legally. It just gives you the option to change it. It's non-binding. If you've changed your mind, ignore it.

      Can i just change it back to my maiden name now that we have not done the ceremony yet?

      Same as previously stated.

      or I can keep it on my marriage license and don not go through any legal name changes.

      Yes, you don't have to commit to any name change now or in the future.

      Reply
  16. Melissa

    I got married in Aug of 2017. My husband now wants to legally change his last name to his fathers last name. We have the paper work to go through the court system to do this. Do I also have to go through the court system to change my last name to his new last name or since we are married I get his last name through marriage?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I also have to go through the court system to change my last name to his new last name or since we are married I get his last name through marriage?

      You must also go through the court system by filing your own, separate name change petition.

      Reply
  17. Kate

    I have 2 questions:
    I was married in California in 1986.
    1) My marriage license & certificate use my Nickname as my first name – is my first name legally changed to my nickname?

    2) I have been using a hyphenated last name (maiden – husband's name) on my legal documents. Can I simply drop the maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      1) My marriage license & certificate use my Nickname as my first name – is my first name legally changed to my nickname?

      No.

      2) I have been using a hyphenated last name (maiden – husband's name) on my legal documents. Can I simply drop the maiden name?

      If you're legal name is hyphenated, then dropping the use of your maiden name would just be informal.

      Reply
  18. Silvia

    Hi ! ! when iIhad my daughter I gave her my last name and my boyfriend last name. Now, I fell like the order of last names is incorrect on her birth certificate. Her name is listed as First Name, Middle Name, my Boyfriend last name , my last name. I noticed that at school they call her by her first name and my last name. they skip her dads last name. is that correct order?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I noticed that at school they call her by her first name and my last name. they skip her dads last name. is that correct order?

      This isn't uncommon with double last names that aren't hyphenated. As written, it's hard to tell if your boyfriend's last name is part of the surname or middle name. This is especially true if someone's taking a cursory glance at the name. Are you considering pursuing a name change for your daughter to mitigate this?

      Reply
  19. Isabel Carney

    Hi,
    I got divorced last year and on my divorced settlement I asked to restore my maiden name. Its been a year since my divorce and have not changed my name on my driver licence, SS card or passport because I don't want to have a different last name as my children. Am I able to just keep my married last name on all my Id's / loans/ bank accounts or do I have to go change everything back to my maiden name?

    I live in Southern California.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Isabel. You do not have to return to your maiden name even if your divorce decree permits you to do so.

      Reply
  20. Azi

    But according to the "Information regarding the name equality act of 2007", option 3 (please see the options below), I should be able to choose a segment of my last name, shouldn't I?
    If not, I'd like to then choose the first three letters of my last name and the last letter of my spouse's (which happens to be the same as the fourth letter of my last name). To me, this workaround seems legitimate. Is that not allowed?

    The parties may choose any of the following middle or last names as the name they wish to be known as after marriage:
    1) Current last name of the other spouse
    2) Last name of either spouse given at birth
    3) A name combining into a single last name all or a segment of the current last name or last name of either spouse given at birth
    A combination of last names may or may not be hyphenated

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I should be able to choose a segment of my last name, shouldn't I?

      You should and you can.

      If not, I'd like to then choose the first three letters of my last name and the last letter of my spouse's (which happens to be the same as the fourth letter of my last name). To me, this workaround seems legitimate. Is that not allowed?

      It is allowed.

      Reply
      1. Azi

        Thanks for your response, Valera. Just so I'm clear, since you are agreeing with me that I should be able to choose a segment of my last name, you are practically saying that I am allowed to shorten/truncate my last name. This is in contrast to your previous response (please see below), when I inquired about this (wording it differently) in April. Am I misunderstanding something here? Thanks!

        Azi
        April 20, 2018
        Hi,
        I've always wanted to truncate my last name from 12 letters to 4 letters. Is a marriage license the easiest and cheapest way to do this? Or, is the California fee of $435 inevitable?

        Reply
        Valera
        April 23, 2018
        Hi Azi. You can't shorten your name by getting married. You'll have to go to court and pay the requisite fee.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          since you are agreeing with me that I should be able to choose a segment of my last name, you are practically saying that I am allowed to shorten/truncate my last name.

          Yes, as you're combining a segment of your last name and your spouse's. When I said "You should and you can" be able to slice off a portion of your last name, it was in the context of a segment of your spouse's last name being the fourth letter of your new name.

          This is in contrast to your previous response (please see below), when I inquired about this (wording it differently) in April. Am I misunderstanding something here?

          Your April comment comment didn't reference your spouse's last name or birth name. You had just mentioned wanting to slice off a portion of your name in isolation. Segmenting is when the names of both parties to the marriage are in the mix.

          Reply
        2. Nick Thompson

          What's the status of this? I want to take the first 3 letters of my last name, and 1st letter of my spouse's last name. The worker taking my marriage license said that I can't do that because "segment" means 2 or more letters. Is that true?

          Reply
          1. Valera

            The worker taking my marriage license said that I can't do that because "segment" means 2 or more letters. Is that true?

            I've not seen a minimum character count defined in the original Name Equality Act or any revisions or clarifications. Can this worker produce documentation from the state showing this standard?

  21. Chip

    Can court just add a first name so id have 2? I have used a nick name over 30 yrs? Currently show C. Chip as first initial and then Nick name "chip". SS#, credit cards, drivers list, health ins and all employee records and bank listed with Nick name. Problem is the birth certificate shows catherine. More trouble to change it vack to catherine which I dont want to use. Can a first name be added to a legal name…then at my discretion use C.Chip? Passport and birth certif the only two I'd with catherine on it. Drivers list = C. Chip. They don't match. So new CA id will be a problem and international travel a risk. However left and returned to country 3 times without issue

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can court just add a first name so id have 2?

      Yes.

      Can a first name be added to a legal name…then at my discretion use C.Chip?

      It depends on the document. For government documents, it'll have to be your legal name.

      Passport and birth certif the only two I'd with catherine on it. Drivers list = C. Chip.

      It's unlikely the DMV will allow an initial or nickname.

      Reply
  22. Azi

    Hi,
    My spouse-to-be wants to drop his middle name when requesting a marriage license. Is that allowed? I know one is allowed to choose just a segment of one's middle/last name, but is a segment/subset containing zero letters (equivalent to dropping one's middle name) allowed?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My spouse-to-be wants to drop his middle name when requesting a marriage license. Is that allowed?

      Nope. Can't drop the middle name.

      I know one is allowed to choose just a segment of one's middle/last name

      I'm glad you brought this up, as some people think the ability to segment last names also extends to middle names. It does not. You can combine middle names in their entirety, but not segments.

      Reply
  23. Ana

    Hi Valera,
    On my marriage license under the new name section my name is listed as follows: First Name – Maiden Name for Middle Name – Husbands last name for last name. If I understand correctly, what's listed in this section does not affect my name in any way? It's just an authorization to change my name if I so choose? A legal name change is when you change your name with Social Security, DMV, on passport, etc?

    I only filled out the new name section because I was told it would save me money when and if I decided to change my name legally. However, I do not like this arrangement anymore (first name – maiden for middle name – husbands last for last name), and will not change my name as it's listed. Is there any possible way to have this section changed, because as it stands it's not accurate and it really bothers me?

    If I do decide to change my name I'd like to hyphenate. What process do I need to follow for that? Would I need to go through the courts?

    Thank you for your help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If I understand correctly, what's listed in this section does not affect my name in any way?

      Correct.

      It's just an authorization to change my name if I so choose?

      Correct.

      A legal name change is when you change your name with Social Security, DMV, on passport, etc?

      Correct.

      Is there any possible way to have this section changed, because as it stands it's not accurate and it really bothers me?

      If you haven't married yet, just apply for a new marriage license.

      If I do decide to change my name I'd like to hyphenate. What process do I need to follow for that? Would I need to go through the courts?

      Just specify the hyphenated version of the name on the marriage license application.

      Reply
      1. Ana

        Thank you for your reply. I am already married…in that case I can't change the name that's listed on my marriage license/certificate and I'd need to go through the courts and pay the fee in order to hyphenate?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Ana. Yes, at this point you can't change your recorded certificate. You'll have to go through the courts.

          Reply
  24. Natalie

    Hi, my partner and I are getting married in a month but would like to avoid an official name change until our actual big wedding in two years time. Are there any issues in my putting my new name (with his surname) onto our marriage certificate when we get married in a month, and then not actioning on this name change until two years later with social security, DMV, passport etc? Wondering if there’s any complications on sitting on my name change for two years without rolling it out beyond the marriage certificate? Thx so much!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Are there any issues in my putting my new name (with his surname) onto our marriage certificate when we get married in a month, and then not actioning on this name change until two years later with social security, DMV, passport etc?

      There are no issues to be concerned about.

      Wondering if there’s any complications on sitting on my name change for two years without rolling it out beyond the marriage certificate?

      No, it doesn't make a difference.

      Reply
  25. jmlee

    Hi
    I didn't change my last name to my husband upon issuing a marriage license to avoid any confusion in processing my green card (because we processed the petition for a fiancee visa as my original name before marriage then was not sure if I had to change the name for processing the green card as a spouse of the US citizen). I got the license at Oakland, CA and was told that the name change or unchange on the marriage license would be permanent.

    What can I do if I want to change to my husband's last name after green card is issued? Should I go to re-issue the marriage license with the name change or file a petition?

    Thank you very much

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi jmlee. You'll have to file a petition for a name change in the California courts.

      Reply
  26. Isaiah Splawn

    I am expecting to get married in about a month- do I have to pay to take my fiancé's last name after we have married(in California)?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Isaiah. If you're asking if you'll have to pay for a court-ordered name change, then no. When you apply for a marriage license, be sure to put your preferred name on the application.

      Reply
  27. Karen Navarro

    Hi,
    I'm going to be getting married soon and I really don't want to take my soon to be husbands last name. I want to keep my maiden name. I'm very confused on filling out the license online. I don't know what to put down as my new middle name and new last name. Can I just put my maiden name on both?? or can I take my husbands name but not change it legally on my SSN/ DL etc.? Please help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I'm going to be getting married soon and I really don't want to take my soon to be husbands last name.

      You're not required to.

      I'm very confused on filling out the license online. I don't know what to put down as my new middle name and new last name. Can I just put my maiden name on both??

      The new middle and/or last name you put down gives you the option to change it down the road. You don't have to, but it sets you up to execute a basic married name change instead of going to court.

      or can I take my husbands name but not change it legally on my SSN/ DL etc.? Please help!

      Yes, you can do that as well.

      Reply
  28. Caitlin

    Hi, my fiancé and I are getting married January 2019 in either California or Nevada, but neither of us wants to keep our last names dude to our father’s crimes. Is it legal for us to just choose a new name for us to use entirely?
    For example
    Her: Keep her first name, keep her middle name, change last name to Justice.

    Me: Keep my first name, change my middle name to Liam, change my last name to Justice.

    Neither of us have any real relations to the last name justice we just don’t want to use either of our Maiden names in any form such as hypenating or combining the two.

    Is this legal or would we both have to go to court to change our last name to Justice legally? Also would I have to go to court to change my middle name to Liam?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Caitlin. You wouldn't be able to make up a brand new name out of whole cloth. In California, the most radical change you can make is to blend last names (current or prior). In Nevada, you're relegated to basic types of name changes: hyphenate, take spouse's, etc.

      Your residency also determines what you can change to. Even if your marriage takes place in California, the name change laws of your home state takes precedence.

      Reply
  29. Marian

    Hi! I got married last year. By that time We decided to keep my middle name plus my maiden name (as middle names) and then take my husbands last name. Now I want to have both my maiden name and his last name (as my last name) and have no middle name. Should I make an ammendment in my marriage ceriticate before I go to social security? I live in California and got married in Hawaii

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now I want to have both my maiden name and his last name (as my last name) and have no middle name. Should I make an ammendment in my marriage ceriticate before I go to social security?

      You can't drop your middle name unless you obtain a court order.

      Reply
  30. Cristina

    Hi!
    I recently changed my last name to my husbands last name on my social security card only , as it is on our marriage licence and now I regret it because I have a lot of things to change my name on! Can I just go back to the SSA and get my maiden name back? I havent changed it anywhere else only my social and it was not long ago! Or add my last name and have both last names!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I just go back to the SSA and get my maiden name back? I havent changed it anywhere else only my social and it was not long ago! Or add my last name and have both last names!

      No, at this point you'll have to file an adult name change petition with the California superior court.

      Reply
  31. Marie

    On our marriage license, I had elected to hyphenate my maiden name with my husbands last name. We just received our official marriage license on the mail. I haven’t changed any social security cards or gone to the dmv yet, but I have since decided that I would like to just use his last name instead of using a hyphenated name. Is that possible?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I haven’t changed any social security cards or gone to the dmv yet, but I have since decided that I would like to just use his last name instead of using a hyphenated name. Is that possible?

      You wouldn't be able to deviate from the name on your certificate. You'd have to petition the court in such an instance.

      Reply
  32. Brandon

    We recently got married and received our marriage certificate. We intended to have my wife change her name. The marriage certificate shows my wife's maiden name and no changes. How do we proceed to change her name on her Social Security, Drivers Licence, etc.?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How do we proceed to change her name on her Social Security, Drivers Licence, etc.?

      If the certificate is wrong due a mistake on the clerk's part, you can get it amended. Otherwise, she'll have to petition the court as the marriage certificate wouldn't be usable.

      Reply
  33. Chany

    Hi Valera,

    First I would like to start of saying, thank you for this blog. It has answered some of mines and my friends question.

    I’m getting married next year in Long Beach, CA.

    Our wedding is going to be very intimate;City hall and backyard boogie.

    Would I have to go in to city hall to set up an appointment to get married ?
    Or can I do it online ?

    My fiancé name is Deno Sam
    My name is Chany Ho
    Our son name is Ceeno Chea

    We both don’t want to continue our last name.
    We want to take our son last name;CHEA ( name after my mom )
    Will that be possible ??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Would I have to go in to city hall to set up an appointment to get married ? Or can I do it online ?

      You can apply online but you'll have to pick up your license in person at one of the county clerk's seven branch locations within Los Angeles County.

      We both don’t want to continue our last name. We want to take our son last name;CHEA ( name after my mom ) Will that be possible ??

      No, that is not possible through marriage. You'll both have to petition the superior court for such a name change.

      Reply
      1. Chany

        Wow, okay. Is there court fee to the name change petition ? How long is the process ?

        Or

        Would it be better/ easier to add “ Chea “ to my name or change my last name “ Ho “ into Chea ?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Wow, okay. Is there court fee to the name change petition ?

          It costs $435 to petition a California Superior Court for a name change.

          How long is the process ?

          It varies. You'll have to get your hearing scheduled and publish your name in the newspaper. The timeline varies by court, so you'll have to contact them for turnaround times.

          Would it be better/ easier to add “ Chea “ to my name or change my last name “ Ho “ into Chea ?

          If you're going to court, it doesn't matter. You can change your name to whichever you prefer.

          Reply
    1. Valera

      How much will it take to pay for license.

      A California marriage license costs between $35 and $111. It varies by county and the type of license you apply for (public or confidential). If you specify the county you'll be applying in, I can provide specifics.

      Reply
  34. Alondra

    I married almost two years ago and took only my husband's last name. Now, I'd like to add my maiden last name as well so I can have my father's LN and husband's LN. Is that possible? If so, what is the process like?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now, I'd like to add my maiden last name as well so I can have my father's LN and husband's LN. Is that possible? If so, what is the process like?

      You'd have to petition the court for a name change.

      Reply
  35. Erin

    I’m getting married October 13th (California) but will need to use my passport for an international vacation starting November 9th. I want to add my maiden name as a second middle name and take my fiancee’s last name. Can I take the new names on the marriage license and wait until after my vacation to change my name with the SSA/DMV/passport? Meaning, am I okay to use my current passport for travel until I return from vacation and can start the name-change process? Will changing my names on the marriage certificate jeopardize my passport’s validity even though I haven’t done any other paperwork yet?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to add my maiden name as a second middle name and take my fiancee’s last name.

      That's valid. Be sure to specify this on your marriage application.

      Can I take the new names on the marriage license and wait until after my vacation to change my name with the SSA/DMV/passport?

      Yes, it's fine to wait until after.

      Meaning, am I okay to use my current passport for travel until I return from vacation and can start the name-change process?

      Yes. Make sure your airline tickets match the name on your passport.

      Will changing my names on the marriage certificate jeopardize my passport’s validity even though I haven’t done any other paperwork yet?

      No, it wouldn't invalidate your passport.

      Reply
  36. Simon

    Hi there.

    A form of this question was asked earlier I think but I wanted to check as well

    I have a long last name that I would like to shorten and have both my spouse and I take. Would we be able to do that in the marriage license (in San Francisco) last name change? Technically there is a letter in her last name that is in my shortened last name. Do we need to cite that technicality because we have to combine last names?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Simon. For merging names, you'll want to have a clean combination with a defined beginning and end. Rearranging letters to force it to work isn't guaranteed. The county clerk "should" review your application for an improper name combination before issuing your license.

      Reply
      1. Simon

        Thanks so much Valera for the reply. We will give it a try and see what the clerk says.

        Reply
  37. Will

    California won't hyphenate names on a driver's license. My last name is hyphenated going back several generations but when I got my DL here they said they couldn't do it. So I now have this unpronounceable 14 letter long string of letters on my DL. It's 2018. I can't believe their computers can't hyphenate a last name.

    And the issue is going to continue, my partner and I are adopting kids and will be giving them hyphenated last names as well (part of my last name and all of his) so they will have the same issue. It's ridiculous.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Will. This has been a reported issue across California DMV's going back years. It's not that they refuse to honor hyphenated names, it's just that their software strips hyphens which results in a concatenated name. At a minimum you could request it be revised to use a space separator.

      Reply
  38. Jill Marie

    I will be getting married and want to change my first name from Jill to Jillianna, I will be taking his last name. I dont want to change my birth certificate just driver's license and all other institutions. Do I have to get a court order?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I will be getting married and want to change my first name from Jill to Jillianna, I will be taking his last name.

      Do I have to get a court order?

      Definitely, with a first name change.

      Reply
  39. TiraDee

    Born in California, married on a US Territory. My birth certificate has my maiden name on it, the marriage certificate obtained by a US territory has a false last name. I am recently divorced with an approved decree to restore my maiden last name and would like to A) completely change my last name to a new last name due to never meeting my biological father B) Or temporarily carry my biological father’s last name until I can petition for a new name change. I am active duty military stationed on the east coast I am unable to appear for a court hearing. But would like to know what/if any stipulations for military. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi TiraDee. If you don't want to change your name to what's specified in your divorce decree, then you'll have to petition the court for an adult name change. This goes for members of the military as well.

      Reply
  40. Sarah

    My fiance’s Name was misspelled upon birth to Jhon instead of their intended John. Can he change his first name from Jhon to John when we apply for a marriage license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can he change his first name from Jhon to John when we apply for a marriage license?

      No, that's not possible.

      Reply
  41. Fiona

    When I got married, I didn't fill out the "Name Change" option and left it as blank. Now I would like to change my name to myfirstname mylastname hislastname. Can I change it without going to the court and pay $500 for that?

    Reply
  42. Brielle Miller

    Hi, I just got married in Washingotn State and you do not put your name change on the marriage license. How to I change my name now that I am back in the Bay Area?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How to I change my name now that I am back in the Bay Area?

      Obtain a certified copy of your Washington State certificate of marriage. Use that document to change your name.

      Reply
  43. Marc

    We got married when same-sex marriage became legal in 2013 in SF. We are residents of another state. My spouse transitioned M2F and has legally changed her full name. We have a court order for the name change in Nevada. We would like to change the name on the marriage cert. Can that be done using the court order from Nevada? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      We would like to change the name on the marriage cert. Can that be done using the court order from Nevada?

      Yes, you can contact the county clerk's office for the city and county of San Francisco to amend your marriage certificate using your court order.

      Reply
  44. Amber

    Hello,
    I live in California and will be married soon. I am struggling to find a way to take my fiance's last name while matching my son's last name. Our son's last name is hislastname-mylastname as is done traditionally in our culture. I don't know about putting my husband's last name first when we're married so could I take it as a middle name instead? I currently only have a first and last name, no middle name. Do you have any other suggestions for how we can approach this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I don't know about putting my husband's last name first when we're married so could I take it as a middle name instead?

      Yes, you can.

      I currently only have a first and last name, no middle name. Do you have any other suggestions for how we can approach this?

      Your last name doesn't have to match your son's exactly. You can take a part of your fiance's last name and join it with a part of yours. It can be separated by a space or hyphen.

      Reply
  45. Leticia

    I hyphenated my name when I got married, but I have not changed it on any legal documents, except health insurance. I am about to purchase some property. Can I still use my maiden name?

    Reply
  46. Teresa Sedano

    I was married 11 years ago in CA. and now would like to take my husband's last name. Can I still do this if I have marriage certificate as proof?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I still do this if I have marriage certificate as proof?

      Yes, there isn't a time limit on changing your name.

      Reply
  47. Myrna Evans

    I got married 9 years ago in CA. I kept my last name due to business. I have now retired and want to use my husbands last name. Can I do that without going to court?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Myrna. You can change your name without going to court as long as your marriage certificate lists your husband's last name as your preferred new last name.

      Reply
  48. Sharon

    Hi Valera,

    I plan on keeping my last name but taking my fiance's last name as my middle name (I don't have a middle name at the moment). Am I able to keep my given name and just add a middle name to my marriage license? After doing so, do I still need to change all other legal documents to include my new middle name?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Am I able to keep my given name and just add a middle name to my marriage license?

      Yes.

      After doing so, do I still need to change all other legal documents to include my new middle name?

      If you were to change your name, it would have to be the complete name matching your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  49. Jenn

    Hi! My fiancee and I are planning to get married soon and we would both like to change our last names to his nana's last name. It is not a blend of our names whatsoever. Would it be best for him to file for a name change before our marriage or can we just take the new last name when we wed? We live in California

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Would it be best for him to file for a name change before our marriage or can we just take the new last name when we wed?

      Filing a pre-marriage name change would make sense, since you're unable to segment your names in any reasonable combination.

      Reply
  50. Candice Duff

    I've been separated for 7 years and want to change my name Before the Divorce. I dropped my first name when getting married and used my middle name, maiden name, then his last name. Now, I just want my middle name and my maiden name. Is this something that the court would consider? Or, will I be able to do the same with the divorce…just go back to Only my middle name and maiden name, leaving out my first name on my birth certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is this something that the court would consider?

      You can change any aspect of your name when going to court.

      Or, will I be able to do the same with the divorce…

      Divorce name changes are for middle and last names. First name changes require a court order.

      Reply
  51. adriana

    Hi there

    I am in the medical field and just got married. I have tons of licenses and certificates with my maiden name, if I change my name to his, I believe I have to change all my licenses and certificates, but if I hyphenate it, do I also have to change all my licenses and certificates? and If I hyphenate it, when I sign can I just sign with my new last name and not include my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Adriana. You'd have to contact your licensing board of any change to your name. How you sign is up to state regulations and your employer. It's possible you can continue to operate under your maiden name, as long as the proper agencies are contacted about your legal name change.

      Reply
  52. Ramya

    Hi,
    My fiance and I are getting married in a few weeks. I have no middle name, but a two word last name. One of the words overlaps with segments of his last name.

    My last name: Marigold Johnson
    His last name: Marinet

    Could I change my last name to just Marigold?

    Reply
  53. Kris

    Got married in CA, on my marriage license for new name is it stated as first name, middle name, and husbands last name. At the time I didn’t think about putting my madien name in my middle name. My question is when I renew my dmv license I want to keep my name as my birth name but add my husbands last name. So it will be first, middle, madien and husband last name. Is that possible?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My question is when I renew my dmv license I want to keep my name as my birth name but add my husbands last name. So it will be first, middle, madien and husband last name. Is that possible?

      They'll only change it to match what's on your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  54. Mitsuko Grube

    We got married in 2007 – my husband would like to take my last name. Can he take our marriage cert to SS to get his name changed?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mitsuko. He could only change it to match what's on the marriage certificate's new name after marriage section.

      Reply
  55. Sasha

    I was married in San Diego, California in 2006.

    At the time I have changed my last name through SS office and CA DMV based on my marriage certificate, even though in 2006 my new last name was not shown in my marriage certificate.

    I now need additional proof of my last name change.

    The new names now show in marriage certificates based on The Name Equality Act of 2007 (AB 102, Chapter 567, Statutes of 2007 amended by AB 1143, Chapter 512, Statutes of 2009)

    Social Security Starting August 1, 2014, Social Security offices across the county will no longer offer Social Security number printouts

    How do I get proof of my name change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How do I get proof of my name change?

      Your social security card and driver's license would be your proof. Your marriage certificate is also proof that you had a legal right to change your name.

      Reply
  56. E

    Hi,
    My husband and I live in California but got married in New York this past September 2018. I changed my last name to my husbands on our NY marriage license but I have yet to change my name officially with social security and dmv.

    Is there a time limit in which I need to change my name with SS and DMV?

    If I’m planning on still using my maiden name professionally, do I still need to change all legal documents to my married name?

    And is it mandatory that marriage license, SS and DMV all list the same last name?

    Thank you,
    E

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there a time limit in which I need to change my name with SS and DMV?

      There's no time limit.

      If I’m planning on still using my maiden name professionally, do I still need to change all legal documents to my married name?

      If you do change your name on your legal documents, how it applies to your professional documents varies. For instance, if you were a physician, you'd have to contact your licensing board to determine if credentials have to be reissued.

      If you're concerned about your professional identity, then consider a DBA in your established professional name.

      And is it mandatory that marriage license, SS and DMV all list the same last name?

      Name change is optional. You don't have to move beyond the marriage license. If you update your name with the SSA, it's unlikely you'll be able to renew your driver's license in a name that doesn't match what the SSA has on file.

      Reply
  57. Joy

    When my husband and I applied for our marriage license we decided that I would take on his last name and take out my maiden name. But I have since changed my mind after we got married. Would there be any issue if I don’t ever change my last name to his?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Would there be any issue if I don’t ever change my last name to his?

      No issue will crop up. There's nothing to be concerned about.

      Reply
  58. Leslie

    When I got married in 2013, I kept my maiden name. Our marriage certificate (in CA) shows my maiden name. But, I've since changed my mind and I'd like to take my husband's last name and make my maiden name my middle name. At this point, do I need to go to court to change my maiden name to my husband's last name? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      At this point, do I need to go to court to change my maiden name to my husband's last name?

      Yes, you would have to go to court.

      Reply
  59. Dee S.

    When I got married in CA in 1993, on the License and Certificate of Marriage, I used my "Current" last (family) name. At the time I thought that was my birth last name.

    Since, I have found out my bio-dad, been to court to change paternity & my birth certificate. I wanted to use my new name. The local county clerk suggested instead of the legal name change procedure in CA to amend the Marriage License & Certificate to show a maiden name which I did.

    Both my spouse and I signed the amendment. I signed it with my "new" maiden name-married surname. That was fine for SSA and the DMV, but the US Passport office will not accept the amended Marriage License and Certificate as a legal name change. I have my new birth certificate, court order showing paternity. Do I really need to do the legal name change for $435??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Dee. Did they request additional supporting documents that you aren't able to provide or did they specifically say they needed a court order? Is this a passport renewal or new passport?

      Reply
      1. Dee

        They stated a “legal name change document.” I provided both birth certificates showing both birth names & marriage license and certificate & amendment. This is for a US Passport renewal. For what it’s worth, I have been going by the name of either first & maiden or maiden-hyphenated. Thank you

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Dee. Oftentimes, what you're allowed to change to comes down to the leniency of the agent you deal with. You can try another office or mail in your application, if that's an option available to you.

          Reply
          1. Dee S.

            Thank you Valera. I suspected as much and plan to try a different office. I researched and researched as to what I was doing wrong and to what of my documents wasn't "legal" when I came across your site. Thank you for all you are doing.

  60. Lisa J.

    When I got married (in California), the clerk told me that as long as I didn't hyphenate mine and my husband's last names that I could use either or both. If I want to start a trust or buy property in Las Vegas using my husband's last name (leaving mine off completely) would I have to legally add my husband's last name to my driver's license and social security card first or could I use a certified copy of my marriage license as ID? Thank you so much!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      When I got married (in California), the clerk told me that as long as I didn't hyphenate mine and my husband's last names that I could use either or both.

      I don't know what the basis of the clerk's position was. Your last name is your last name, space or hyphen. I'm not aware of an updated clarification being made to the Name Equality Act.

      If I want to start a trust or buy property in Las Vegas using my husband's last name

      Your ID would have to be in your husband's name.

      or could I use a certified copy of my marriage license as ID?

      It's up to the financial institution, but it's unlikely. Your marriage certificate is for proof of marriage. It's not meant to be used for primary identification.

      Reply
      1. Lisa J

        Thanks! I confirmed (with an attorney on Avvo) that I could use either or both last names as long as they aren't hyphenated as the clerk suggested. I then asked if I could buy property without changing my last name (on my ss card and DL) and I am STILL waiting for a response which is I asked here. Thank you again.

        Reply
  61. Patrick

    My wife and I live in California but were married in Vegas, 2014. Our marriage certificate has her current last name (maiden name). She would like to change her last name to mine & basically hyphenate the names. Will she need to go to court to change her name? Thank You.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      She would like to change her last name to mine & basically hyphenate the names. Will she need to go to court to change her name?

      She won't have to go to court. The Clark County marriage certificate will work as-is.

      Reply
  62. Jolee

    Hello, I will be getting married next month, I am planning to change my last name to my fiance's last name. I also would like to add a middle name that is not my maiden name or combination of both last names. Is that possible?

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I also would like to add a middle name that is not my maiden name or combination of both last names. Is that possible?

      You may add you or your future spouse's current last name or birth last name to your middle name. Nothing else.

      Reply
  63. Thomas

    Hi. I'm planning on getting married to my fiancee this year and I had changed my name when I was a teenager to my stepdad's. I was wondering if it was possible when we get married to change it to my original last name. We also have a son who I want to change his last name to the original. I know I have to file a petition for my son but can i change mine through marriage?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I was wondering if it was possible when we get married to change it to my original last name.

      You can change to your birth last name through marriage.

      Reply
  64. Melissa

    Hi. I married in Los Angeles in 2013. I changed my last name to my husbands on the wedding certificate because he really wanted me to take his name. So at the time, I decided to change my maiden name and make it my new middle name. I have never reported the name change to DMV, Social Security, Passport, my taxes, and CA Board of Professional Licenses because I truly changed my mind after a month.

    The problem I'm having is with the bank. After our wedding we opened a new bank account with our wedding certificate as proof of name change. Wells Fargo will not remove the married last name even though I have no CA ID, Social Security card, or passport with the married last name. Wells Fargo asked for proof of Divorce or name change. How do I do provide that information when all I have is my maiden name? Please help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Melissa. The rules governing how your name change is processed by your bank is decided by your bank. Will they accept documentation confirming your current legal name is your maiden name? Something from the SSA or DMV? Will they accept an affidavit or letter from an attorney confirming your legal name?

      Reply
  65. tracy

    I was adult adopted by my aunt in 2015, but never legally changed my last name. When I got married in June last year I had sentimentally planned to add my aunts last name, with no hyphen, to my husbands last name on the marriage certificate. The clerk told me I couldn't add her last name to mine because I'd never legally changed it beforehand – even though I had the adoption paperwork. is this correct?

    I would like clarification that if I want to add her last name, I would have to petition the court to have it legally changed: First, Middle, Adopted Last, Married Last. Alternatively, I could drop my middle name and just go by First name, Adopted Last, Married Last. Will DMV accept the two last names without hyphen? Is one more trouble than the other? Thanks in advance…

    Reply
    1. Valera

      The clerk told me I couldn't add her last name to mine because I'd never legally changed it beforehand – even though I had the adoption paperwork. is this correct?

      Yes, that's correct.

      I would like clarification that if I want to add her last name, I would have to petition the court to have it legally changed

      That is what you would have to do.

      Is one more trouble than the other?

      If you're going to court, any name change combination is allowed.

      Reply
  66. navabeh

    Hello,
    I became a US citizen last year and I added a middle name for my passport (I did not present any sort of doc for adding my middle name). Currently, I am in the process of applying for my licensure for work and the form was asking about any name change. My questions is whether adding a middle name constitutes as a name change and would that mean I have to go to the court and get a court order for adding a middle name in my passport?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Navabeh. If you already added a middle name to your passport, why are you concerned with getting a court order? Your name change is complete.

      Reply
  67. Adolfo

    hi I just got my naturalization ceremony, I come from Mexico and I have 2 last names. for example Juan Lopez Castro. Juan is my first name, Lopez is my first last name and Castro is my second last name.

    I want to change Lopez to be my middle name. Technically my name will look exactly the same I am just changing the order (i guess) Juan as my first name, Lopez middle, and Castro last name.

    I am about to apply for my first American passport and register to vote. I guess my question is do I need to change my name legally? can I just change the order on my passport? the only reason i am changing it is for convenience thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to change Lopez to be my middle name.

      Not possible through marriage. You could replace it with your entire last name, but not partially.

      It's possible you'll get a clerk who's flexible or doesn't catch it, but you'll have to hope for lightning to strike multiple times: county clerk, SSA, DMV, etc.

      I guess my question is do I need to change my name legally?

      Formal name change isn't required.

      can I just change the order on my passport?

      You can try to change it in isolation, but it's not guaranteed to be accepted. The name order in your marriage certificate isn't likely to match.

      Reply
      1. adolfo

        Hi thank you for your answer, I'm sorry I belive I didn't explain myself clearly. Right as a Latino descendant I have 2 separated last names (not joined with a hyphen) A constant issue I have with my last names (Lopez Castro) is that my first last name (Lopez) is usually misplaced as my middle name. in fact, my driver license has it listed already as my middle name. my name is going to look exactly the same in my certificate of naturalization.

        my question is if I want to continue using it as my middle name am I required to change it legally thru a court file? If I want to use only one of my last names am i required to change and file a case in my local court? thanks

        Reply
        1. Valera

          my name is going to look exactly the same in my certificate of naturalization.

          It may look the same on paper, but that's not how the names are stored internally. They're isolated into first, middle, and last name fields.

          my question is if I want to continue using it as my middle name am I required to change it legally thru a court file?

          Since it's already in the system at the DMV, you may or may not have a future problem with it. That's more wishful thinking though.

          If I want to use only one of my last names am i required to change and file a case in my local court? thanks

          For marriage, it's all or nothing. If you're replacing your middle name, it would have to be the whole name.

          Reply
  68. Brianna

    I just got married (age 17) and if I want to change my last name to my husbands am I able too ? Or do I have to wait until I’m 18 to do so ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I just got married (age 17) and if I want to change my last name to my husbands am I able too ?

      You don't have to wait until you're 18 years old. You can make the change now.

      Reply
  69. Rosalinda Ordinario Moreno

    Hello. My daughter is using my maiden name as her last name but we want to change it now that I'm married and we're here in California. We want her to use my married name. How can we do it.

    Reply
  70. W.M.

    Hi, My ex and I have a daughter together. We were never married. We lived together until our daughter was 2 yrs old and then we separated.

    Our daughter has my last name and it's on her birth certificate. Our daughter is now 5 yrs old. During the past 3 yrs we have maintained shared custody without a court order or any courts being involved.

    My ex recently married and took her husbands last name. Recently, my ex filed for physical and legal custody and she was denied both. Court order is for Joint physical and joint legal.

    Now my ex wants to hyphenate our daughters last name to include her husband's last name and my last, which is on the birth certificate.

    I was a stay at home dad and I've taken care of our daughter and been there from day one. The only time I'm not with my daughter is when she is with her mother because we have maintained the 50/50 custody even prior to the recent court order. There is no one, including my ex, that has been with and taking care of my daughter more than me.

    We are still in the middle of court proceedings and a court date has been set to hear the matter to add and hyphenate my ex's new married last name to my daughters current last name.

    I do not agree with this. What will most likely happen and what can I do to keep a change from happening?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I do not agree with this. What will most likely happen and what can I do to keep a change from happening?

      Show up to the hearing and make your objection heard. Bottom line, the judge will make the final decision based on what's in the best interest of the child.

      Both sides have an opportunity to make a compelling argument. Make sure your argument is focused on what's in the best interest of your daughter.

      Reply
  71. Aria

    Hi,

    I do not have a middle name. I am getting married in California and want to take a new first name, move my first name to my middle name, and take my fiance's last name. How do I go about doing this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Aria. You can't modify your first name through marriage. You'll have to go to court instead.

      Reply
  72. Cheryl

    In the 80's my parents were divorced and I went to the Social Security office and told them I wanted to change my last name to my moms maiden name. They said sure no problem and changed it and issued me a new SS card. Then I went to DMV and told them the same and they issued me a drivers license in my moms maiden name. From there I changed everything else associated with me to my moms maiden name without any problems.

    I have used my moms maiden name on everything since then and I have not been in any legal trouble. Now I am trying to get the California REAL ID and a passport and cant because I didn't legally change my last name. What do I have to do now at this point to continue using my moms maiden name as my last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I went to the Social Security office and told them I wanted to change my last name to my moms maiden name

      That wouldn't work these days.

      What do I have to do now at this point to continue using my moms maiden name as my last name?

      Court order.

      Reply
  73. Jenna Johnson

    So in California you can't make an entirely new name… just to clarify, this would mean that making a new last name with my husband's surname and my mother's maiden name (not my last name) is not possible? E.g. first name, middle name, mother's maiden name-husband's surname.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      So in California you can't make an entirely new name…

      A brand new last name can't be created unless it can be derived from either you or your spouse's current last name or last name at birth.

      For instance, take your last name, Johnson. Let's assume your to-be-spouse's last name at birth or current last name is Evans. You could do: Jevans, Joevans, Johevans, Johnsevans, or Evajohnson, Evajo, Evason, etc.

      It doesn't even have to be the beginning or end of a name. You could take a portion in the middle of your names, such as Vanoh.

      just to clarify, this would mean that making a new last name with my husband's surname and my mother's maiden name (not my last name) is not possible?

      Not possible.

      Reply
  74. Brenda Lopez Ochoa

    I was married in 2013. I kept my maiden name and took his last name as well (not hyphenated). Now I'm wanting to drop my maiden name and just go my marriage name. Do I have to go to court to drop my maiden name or is there an easier way of doing this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I have to go to court to drop my maiden name or is there an easier way of doing this?

      You would have to go to court to get a secondary name change.

      Reply
  75. Roy

    My ex used her new partners last name on legal documents (a quitclaim deed, deed and declaration of homestead). However she maintains that they are not legally married thus requiring me to continue alimony payments. Can she use his last name on legal documents if they are indeed, not married as she alleges?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can she use his last name on legal documents if they are indeed, not married as she alleges?

      Perhaps she changed her name through the court system?

      If she didn't formally change her name, then her name usage isn't valid. Her current legal name should go on legal documents. California also got rid of common-law marriage in 1895, so she couldn't present herself as married without solemnization and expect it to have legal weight.

      However, California is the only state in the union with confidential marriage licenses, where someone could get married and it's existence is not a public record.

      Reply
  76. Ellie P.H.

    So I changed my name when I got married to: First Name, Maiden Name, Husband's last name. I have not yet changed my name for SS or with the DMV or anywhere else. I'm working on filling out a request for a transcript of my tax return as well as other documents for college and FAFSA info. Since I haven't changed my name anywhere else yet besides my marriage license, should I keep using my name before marriage?

    Reply
    1. Ellie P.H.

      To clarify, Should I keep using my name before marriage on tax return transcripts/FAFSA/college documents/etc. until I change it with Social Security and/or the DMV?

      Reply
      1. Valera

        Hi Ellie. Yes, you should continue using your maiden name on those documents and purposes until you've changed your name with the SSA.

        Reply
    2. Valera

      Since I haven't changed my name anywhere else yet besides my marriage license, should I keep using my name before marriage?

      You can. You don't have to change your name beyond what's on your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  77. Jerry L David

    My ex asked for restoration of her maiden name during our divorce. The Judge approved and it reflects in our divorce decree. Thing is she has not changed her name. Is this illegal?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Thing is she has not changed her name. Is this illegal?

      No, the judge's approval for your ex-wife to go back to her maiden name simply provides her the option to do so. It's nonbinding.

      Reply
  78. Carolyn

    My maiden name and my "new" married name are already the same. Do I need to file paperwork?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My maiden name and my "new" married name are already the same.

      That's a fortunate coincidence. You don't have to file anything.

      Reply
  79. Melissa Fonseca

    I got married four years ago. When I got married I didn’t change my last name to spouses last name. I didn’t list any new names on the marriage certificate. What’s the process I have to take now to change my last name to my spouses? We got married in California

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What’s the process I have to take now to change my last name to my spouses? We got married in California

      You'd have to go to court since your new name isn't listed on your marriage certificate.

      Reply

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