California Name Change: A Complete Guide

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

Legally changing your name in California is not for the faint of heart. Not because it's hard, but because the plentiful choices may catch you off guard without good planning.

However you're changing your name, you must learn how much it'll cost; when, where, and how to begin; documents, IDs, options, and bringing everything to conclusion.

Legal name change starts with getting proof of your changed name. The next step is to notify government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration and CA DMV.

California name change procedure

We'll show you how to complete the name change process without a lawyer, whether done through marriage, divorce, or court petition.

Marriage name change in California

The number of ways you can legally change your name after marriage in California is stunning. And well worth considering in depth before your wedding day.

California marriage name change, using your marriage certificate

Your marriage certificate is the linchpin, serving as proof of your new married name. It will allow you to change both your middle and last name after marriage.

You can save time and start the name change process before or after you're married. Be ready to download, print, and mail your auto-filled PDF name change forms.

California's Name Equality Act

The Name Equality Act of 2007 (PDF, 310 KB) governs California's marriage name change laws. It went into effect for marriage licenses issued on and after January 1, 2009.

Changing your last name

State law allows every party to a marriage—husband and wife—to change their names by designating it on the marriage license application. There are four grand options:

1. Take your spouse's last name

You can take your spouse's current last name as your new last name. This is the traditional approach. You can still use your maiden name in other contexts.

2. Take your spouse's last name at birth

You can adopt your spouse's maiden name as your own name, skipping their current surname outright. This doesn't apply to their other last names between birth and right now.

3. Return to your maiden name or last name at birth

You can change your last name back to your maiden name (if different), forgoing your spouse's surname. This shows the elasticity of California's name change laws.

4. Hyphenate, space-separate, or combine your last names

You can create any combination of you and your spouse's current last names or birth names. Separating them with a hyphen (-), space ( ), or nothing (making them flush).

You can join your names in either order when hyphenating or combining.

Combine your names

For instance, you can hyphenate your last name with your spouse's name, their birth name, or your maiden name. Yes, you can exclude your partner and self-hyphenate.

Current and birth name combos

Using a space to separate your names is called a double-barreled name change. It's becoming more popular. Caution, people may confuse the first part as your middle name.

For example, imagine your name histories were:

  • Your surname: Alpha
  • Your birth surname: Delta
  • Your spouse's surname: Omega
  • Your spouse's birth surname: Sigma

You could rename to Alpha-Delta, Alpha-Omega, Alpha-Sigma, Delta-Omega, Delta-Sigma, or Omega-Sigma. You can replace the hyphen with a space or no symbol.

This meeting in the middle happy compromise works well when you want to take your spouse's name and support your identity for family, legal, or business reasons.

5. Create a brand new last name by blending surnames

You may create a brand new hybrid last name by carving out one segment of your current or birth name with a slice of your spouse's current or birth name.

This is identical to the prior combination name change we just covered, except your newfound name must be a single word—no additional hyphens or spaces allowed.

For example, let's assume your name histories were:

  • Your surname: Bravo
  • Your birth surname: India
  • Your spouse's surname: Oscar
  • Your spouse's birth surname: Tango

Example blends could be Bravondia, Bravoscar, Bravango, Indisca, Oscarango, etc.

Successful name segmentation

The permutations are vast. You can extract any part of your names—beginning, middle, or end. One letter or multiple. But you're only allowed to clip one segment per name.

Failed name segmentation

You're only limited by your imagination when picking a segmented name. Just don't forget to decide before getting married. Your choice must go on the marriage license.

Even if your marriage records show you intend to change your name after marriage, you don't have to change it for real. It will just keep your options open.

Changing your middle name

You can either change both your middle and last name at the same time. Or just alter one by itself. You've got three noteworthy choices:

1. Replace with either's last name

You can replace your middle name with you or your spouse's current last name.

2. Replace with either's last name at birth

Replacing your middle name with your maiden name is a popular, well-supported choice. Your prospects extend to both you and your spouse's birth names.

3. Combine with either's current or last name at birth

You can hyphenate your middle name with you or your spouse's current last name or birth name. Or use a space instead of a hyphen. Or join them without a separator.

Unsupported name changes

You can't change your first name by getting married. You'll have to petition the superior court for that. This matches the law in other states too—no workarounds or loopholes.

You also can't drop your middle name, replace it with an initial, or create a blended variation (like you could for surname changes). That too demands a court decree.

Getting a California marriage certificate

You can change your name in California using a certified copy of your marriage certificate. But you must apply for a marriage license to get that certificate. Here's how…

California marriage certificate, getting your proof of name change

1. Where to apply and fees

You can apply for a marriage license at any California county clerk's office. It costs between $35 and $110. (The fee varies across counties.) The statewide median is $75.

The license fee does not include a certified copy of your marriage certificate, which you'll use to change your name. The certificate costs $15 to $17 extra per copy.

Example California marriage license price list, including certificate and civil ceremony
Example marriage fees for Los Angeles County.

You may apply and marry by proxy if you're a member of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed overseas in a conflict. Just give your substitute power of attorney (PDF, 109 KB).

You'll get your license right away—no waiting period. You can then get married any time. It will expire 90 days after issuance, so plan well.

Your California marriage license is valid for use statewide. You can't use it out-of-state. And you can't use another state's license in California.

2. The application

The marriage application will ask you for your:

  • Current name
  • Last name at birth
  • New last name after marriage
  • New middle name after marriage
  • Birth date and place of birth
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Parents' birth names and birth places
  • Marital status (total, when and how last ended)

You must choose your new name on the marriage application or you'll lose your right to change it via marriage. You can't amend this after you marry.

3. Choosing a license type

California offers two types of marriage licenses:

  1. Public license:
    • Is a public record.
    • Is sold only by county clerks.
    • Anyone can purchase certified copies.
    • One to two ceremony witnesses are required.
  2. Confidential license:
    • Is not a public record.
    • Is somewhat more expensive.
    • Is only sold to adults age 18 and older.
    • Is sold by county clerks and approved notaries.
    • Only the married couple can purchase certified copies.
    • Must sign affidavit stating that you live together.
    • Ceremony witnesses are not required.

A confidential license makes sense if you want to keep your marriage a secret.

California marriage license types infographic, public vs confidential
Infographic comparing a public and confidential marriage.

Contact your county clerk office to find a notary public authorized to issue confidential marriage licenses. Yes, there's a pre-approved clerk's list.

4. Age requirements

Minors 17 years old and younger may marry with the written consent of one parent or guardian and a court order. Emancipated and pregnant minors aren't exempt.

The consenting parent needn't have custody. The family court will make the consent decision alone if no parent is available or willing to grant consent.

Minors must get their court order 30 days before applying to get married. Pregnant 16- and 17-year-olds are exempt from this waiting period.

5. Identification and other documents

Bring photo ID that shows your birthdate, and issue and expiration date, such as a:

  • Driver's license
  • Passport
  • State ID card
  • Military ID card
  • Permanent resident card

The clerk might ask for other documents, such as your:

  • Birth certificate (minors and adults)
  • Dissolution or divorce decree (if applicable)

You do not have to present your:

  • Social security card
  • Social security number (SSN)
  • Prior spouse's death certificate (if any)

The "usage method" of name change

California common law allows you to change your name through the "usage method" just by using your new name every day. No paperwork or courts. It doesn't apply if you're:

  • A minor
  • In prison
  • On probation, or
  • A convicted sex offender

Usage is good in theory, but impractical. You can't use it to change your name on government-issued ID or bank accounts. It's wiser to deploy legal-based name changes.

Divorce name change in California

Use a certified copy of your divorce decree to change your name after divorcing. Ask the judge to insert an order that restores your maiden name or any former name.

California divorce name change, using your divorce decree

Didn't ask for your old name back?

You can retroactively amend your divorce judgment by filing an Ex Parte Restoration of Former Name (FL-395, PDF, 52 KB) with the California court clerk where your divorce took place.

Contact the clerk with your divorce case number. They'll tell you where to send the form and if you must include a self-addressed and stamped return envelope.

Petition the court for a name change in California

Changing your legal name through California's courts is three things:

  1. Expensive
  2. Time-consuming
  3. Heavy on paperwork
California name change by court petition, using your court order/decree

Let's detangle the steps into simple bite-sized chunks, whether you're changing your own name or a parent or guardian changing your child's name.

Visit the superior court

File your petition for a change of name at the California Superior Court in your county of residence. If petitioning on behalf of someone else, go to court in their county.

Filing fee and court fee waiver

It costs $435 to file a petition for a change of name in California. You can lodge a request to waive court fees if you can't afford them because you're:

  • Low income
  • Getting public benefits, or
  • Unable to pay court fees and household needs

You're assured a waiver if you're on food stamps, CalFresh, SNAP, Medi-Cal, CalWORKs, CAPI, IHSS, SSI, SSP, General Relief, General Assitance, or Tribal TANF.

Other waiver applicants must document their household income. The least eligible must go further—reporting assets, property, and expenses in microscopic detail.

Required court forms

Download and complete the following blank forms, then make two copies apiece:

If you're in the Safe at Home confidential address program, keep your name change private to avoid domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking by attaching:

You can contact a family law facilitator or attorney to review your name change forms.

Extra steps for child name changes

When changing the name of a child, serve any living, nonconsenting parent the Order to Show Cause (or just the hearing time and place) at least 30 days before the hearing.

For minor name changes to conform to gender identity there's no hearing, so serve the Order to Show Cause (and copy of the petition) inside 30 days of filing the petition.

If the nonconsenting parent lives in California, an adult (not you) must serve them via personal delivery. Alert out-of-state parents by first-class mail, return receipt. Give the court Proof of Service of Order to Show Cause (NC-121, PDF, 58 KB).

Guardians must serve notice to the grandparents if both parents are deceased or AWOL, and the child's name change is not due to gender conformity.

Filing, publication, hearing, and court order

The remaining four steps are:

  1. Filing court papers
  2. Newspaper publication
  3. Court hearing
  4. Court order approval

Bring your forms, two copies, and filing fee to the local court clerk. They'll stamp them, keep the originals, return your two copies, then schedule your hearing at least six weeks out.

The clerk will omit the hearing if changing your name to conform to gender identity. But they'll schedule one later if anyone objects to your name change within six weeks.

Next, publish your Order to Show Cause in a court-approved newspaper of general circulation once a week for four straight weeks. You must give the court Proof of Publication.

The purpose of publication is fraud prevention. It lets the public know your name change court date and location so that anyone may object in writing.

Paying for the publication is your responsibility, even if you can't afford it.

You can skip publication if you're:

  • In the state witness program
  • In the address confidentiality program, or
  • Changing your name to conform to gender identity

If no one files an objection during the newspaper phase, the court may cancel your hearing, judge approves your name change request, then will sign your Decree Changing Name.

Get a certified copy of your court order (Decree Changing Name) to change the name on your birth certificate, social security card, and other legal documents.

Updating your identification

You're ready to change your legal name on state and federal ID, and official records once you've got an original or certified copy of your name change documents.

Updating identification, state and federal, using your name change document

There are three documents that offer proof of name change:

  1. Marriage certificate
  2. Divorce decree
  3. Court order

1. Social security card name change

Change the name on your social security card before your current driver's license. The latter will electronically verify your updated name and social security number.

Mail the SS-5 form (PDF, 45 KB) with your name change document, ID, and proof of citizenship to your local social security office. Your new card will arrive by mail in 2–8 weeks.

2. Driver's license name change

You can change the name on your California driver's license (DL), REAL ID, or state ID card at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. It costs $30 for a DL/ID name change.

Review the REAL ID documents you must bring to satisfy the identity and residency requirements. Standard Non-REAL ID documents needed are different.

Although you can change your address online or by mail, the DMV will only change your name in person, as they'll need to take your photograph and thumbprint.

If you want to both change your name and renew your DL/ID, the DMV will replace the $30 update fee with a $38 (non-commercial) or $49 (CDL) renewal charge.

You'll get a 60-day temporary license. State IDs will only get a receipt of services rendered. Your license or ID will arrive by mail three to four weeks later.

You can visit the California DMV website for extended information, such as changing the name or address on your vehicle registration or car title.

3. Passport name change

The forms, fees, and steps for changing the name on your passport (assuming you have one) depends on when the government issued it, as shown in the following table:

Passport issuedUse formBook costCard costExec cost
Less than one year agoDS-5504$0$0$0
1–15 years agoDS-82$130$30$0
Never issued, lost, or damagedDS-11$130$30$35

Mail DS-5504 or DS-82 with your current passport. File DS-11 at a passport acceptance facility with ID and proof of citizenship.

Each form requires your name change document, along with a recent, 2×2 inch, color passport photo. Most post offices can take a compliant photograph for you.

On December 27, 2021, the passport book fee increased from $110 to $130.

COVID-19 has disrupted new passport processing times. What used to take one month now takes up to three. Expedited service for $60 extra speeds it to 5–7 weeks.

Concluding thoughts

Now you're well-equipped to tackle your California name change. You could streamline the process with our online name change service to save yourself extra time and effort.

Your comments and questions are welcome below.

Do you plan to change your name?

Our online name change kit makes it easy.

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647 Comments

  1. Jane

    Hi – this is a really helpful site! A quick question – I am getting married in California and would like my husband-to-be to add my middle name (which is a historic family name on my side) as one of his middle names. So he would not be 'changing' his middle name, as such, but would be adding an additional new middle name. Is that possible using the marriage license, or would he need a court order? Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      So he would not be 'changing' his middle name, as such, but would be adding an additional new middle name.

      He could join the names with a hyphen, but not a space.

      Reply
  2. Marihia

    Hello, I just got married on May 16th and a lot was going on and I didn't change my last name to my husbands then. Now I do want to change my last name to my husbands, do I have to do a court order or is there something else I can do?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Marihia. If you didn't specify your new name on your marriage license, then you'll need to go to court.

      Reply
  3. Leesah Jay

    Hello,

    Just recently changed my name with the DMV for a new license and was wondering if they give you a new license number or if they simply change the name on your old license.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Leesah. The driver's license number will remain the same.

      Reply
  4. Perla

    Hi, I'm married and lived in California for about Arden years and I never change my last name, (I keep my two birth last names). Now I'm ready to my citizenship appointment, where I fill a document to USCIS to change my last name, to my husband's last name. But now I change my mind and I don't want to change my last name. Can it be possible to say or ask for that in my interview?

    Reply
  5. Lillian Richards

    Divorced in 1981, I did not ask to resume my maiden name. Now that my daughter is married I have no further connection to my married name and wish to resume my maiden name. Placer County (where the divorce was granted and they have the record, which does NOT state "resume maiden name) says it has been too long to take back my birth name and I would have to go the Civil route, filing and paying for a name change. They haven't been able to cite the statute or any code, saying they will have to look it up but are very busy.

    Is there a statute of limitations on resuming maiden name? Is that a State or county ruling?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there a statute of limitations on resuming maiden name?

      If your divorce decree doesn't include an order restoring your maiden name, then government institutions have no rationale for restoring your maiden name. You'll have to get a court order.

      Is that a State or county ruling?

      State law governs this.

      Reply
  6. Eli

    Hi,
    I'm getting married next month and I want to change my full name (first, middle, and last name). Is it possible to do this on the wedding certificate or would I have to get my name legally changed beforehand? Thanks for your advice!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Eli. You can change your middle and last name using your marriage certificate. First name change requires petitioning the court, which can done before or after marriage.

      Reply
  7. Ellie

    I got married and I changed my last name. I have my husband's last name right now but i have been thinking about my work and all the people that know me for my last name. I feel that a new last name would cause miscommunication. I would want to change it back to my last name because of work. I feel it would be easy to keep my last name. What can I do about it? Do I have to pay a fee? or Can I just keep my maiden last name in all documents and just say I am married?

    Thank you in advance

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ellie. If you want to keep your new last name, you'll have to manage this with whoever handles HR and taxes at your workplace. You'll want to make sure they privately and internally use your new legal name for tax and government purposes, while using your prior name for other public uses.

      Reply
  8. Jennifer

    Hello,

    I am getting married in March 2018 in California. If I currently have a middle name, but want to change my existing middle name, will that be an issue? I want to completely get rid of my existing middle name and instead have it become: my first name + new middle name (maiden name) + husband's last name.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jennifer. Yes, you can drop your middle name and replace it with your maiden.

      Reply
  9. Cynthia Ibarra

    I just got married and i dropped my middle name kept my last name an hyphened his last name,but now i want to drop my last name and just keep his is it possible to make that change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Cynthia. Since the likelihood of you're being able to amend your marriage certificate is low, you'd have to get a court order.

      Reply
  10. Sarbina

    Hi! I would like to legally change my first name (very slightly) and make my maiden name my middle, dropping my current middle. I'd take my fiance's last name. Which order do I need to do this? 1) Obtain court order to change my first name and then 2) change middle and last name with marriage license? Or other way around?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sarbina. You could have the court-ordered name change take care of all three at once. Alternatively, you could wait until after you're married to change your middle and last name with your marriage certificate, then go to court to change your first name with a court order.

      Reply
      1. Sarbina

        Hello Valera, if I change my middle/last on the marriage certificate, do I need to go to Social Security & DMV to change JUST the middle/last and take those items to court to change my first name? Or can I go 1) change middle/last on marriage certificate and 2) straight to court order to change my first?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Sarbina. If you're going to court anyway, you can change all three names at one fell swoop.

          Reply
  11. Valerie Murphree

    My daughter is getting married in CA. but lives in Kansas. She is not sure if she wants to change her name. If she keeps her maiden on the marriage license, could it be a problem if she wants to change her name at a later date to her husbands last name. While living in Kansas.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Valerie. Since the residency is Kansas, it shouldn't prevent her from changing her name in the future. However, if there's a possibility she might want to go for a hyphenated variant in the future, it would make sense to specify that on the license just in case, as it'll be reflected on the issued marriage certificate and you never know what federal/state/non-governmental clerk she'll be dealing with who will voice concern over a name mismatch.

      Reply
  12. Jasmine

    If my future spouse has a hyphenated last name and I am only taking ONE of his last names, do I need a court order?

    Reply
  13. Margaret

    I am getting married October 2017 and my fiance (Phillip Deardorff) and I (Margaret Fridley) would like to change our last name to Fischer which is his step dads last name. Could we change our names at the time we apply for our marriage licence? or does he have to do a name change through the courts before we get married?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      …would like to change our last name to Fischer which is his step dads last name. Could we change our names at the time we apply for our marriage licence?

      No, that will not work with a marriage-based name change. You can only change your last name to the current surname or birth surname. You'll have to go to court.

      Reply
  14. Linda

    I am in the middle of a divorce. The divorce papers were just returned, signed by the judge. The six month date is Jan 14, 2018. In the papers I requested that my maiden name be restored. At what point can I make the changes – passport, drivers license, etc? At the point the judgement was granted/signed? Or after the six month period – Jan 14, 2018?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      In the papers I requested that my maiden name be restored. At what point can I make the changes – passport, drivers license, etc? At the point the judgement was granted/signed? Or after the six month period – Jan 14, 2018?

      You'll have to wait to make your changes until your final judgment of divorce has been processed. This could be well before six months.

      Reply
  15. Bernard Mariano

    If my wife got her name hyphenated with my last name. Does she still need to get a new social security card? I've been hearing mixed stories about the social security office not honoring this type of name change.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If my wife got her name hyphenated with my last name. Does she still need to get a new social security card?

      If she'd prefer not to change her name, she doesn't have to.

      I've been hearing mixed stories about the social security office not honoring this type of name change.

      As long as the new name choice is specified on the marriage certificate, it would be honored.

      Reply
  16. George

    I will be getting married soon I use my step fathers last name as an "Aka" name but on my birth certificate it has my biological fathers name. I will be changing my name to his last name through a petition change after we get married. Can I use my step fathers last name on the marriage license application so my fiancé can take that last name? Does she have to do a name petition change as well?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I use my step fathers last name on the marriage license application so my fiancé can take that last name?

      No, as you wouldn't be able to provide any ID confirming it's your last name.

      Does she have to do a name petition change as well?

      Yes, if she'd like to have it match your stepfather's surname as well.

      Reply
  17. Luey

    Hi Valera. We got married in California 2013. I wasn't planning on changing my last name to my husbands, but now I decided to change it (since we plan to have a baby soon). I want to hyphenate my last name with my husbands last name. I did not write anything on the "change to" name of our marriage license though. Do I need to petition to the court for the last name change?

    Reply
  18. Jamee

    According to my research, the social security office will need to hold my license for two weeks to change my name. If it's illegal to drive without a license, how will I be able to drive or show ID for the time being? I won't even leave my house without ID.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jamee. You can submit your application in office instead of mailing it with identification.

      Reply
  19. Judy

    Hi,
    My son wants his middle name to be my maiden name. I have full custody but have not problem letting dad know. (he will keep dad's last name)
    2 questions – What is the process to add the maiden name as a second middle name?

    – What is the process of replacing the middle name all together with the maiden name?

    Reply
  20. Crystal Yang

    Hello,

    I live in California and I am getting married in a few months. I am taking my fiance's last name. However, I was wondering if I can change my first name too when I get married. My first name is a cultural name but I grew up using my middle name Crystal. I use my middle name for everything. I want to change my middle name as to my first name. Then use my original first name as my middle name.

    In the case I can't change it when I get married, I'm just worried how complex to change my first name after just getting married.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      However, I was wondering if I can change my first name too when I get married.

      No, you must go to court to change your first name.

      In the case I can't change it when I get married, I'm just worried how complex to change my first name after just getting married.

      Changing your name through the California court system isn't as easy as doing a marriage name change, but it's not really complex either. You'll just have to file the petition, pay the fee, and go through the motions.

      Reply
  21. Joy

    I hyphenated my name when I married as my children had a different last name. However, my husband just adopted my children and I merely wish to drop the hyphen and keep the married name as all my children have this name now. Can't I just drop the hyphen name? The fees are much more than I anticipated and there seems to be a lot of court paperwork. Is there a simple way to accomplish this or do I have to go through all the motions?
    Thank you.

    Reply
  22. Jesse Allande

    I am about to go thru a divorce in which I took my husband's last name in marriage. If i opt to mark the box to have my previous name restored do I have to change my name back right away or can I do that whenever I choose?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If i opt to mark the box to have my previous name restored do I have to change my name back right away or can I do that whenever I choose?

      You can change it back whenever is most convenient for you.

      Reply
  23. CAT

    Hi Valera, I am trouble finding my answer for this. Hopefully you can help me. I got married in Texas this last summer and in Texas, they said I need to put my maiden name on the license and then change it after. I lived in California my entire life. So when I take my marriage license with me to to SS office and it has my maiden name on it, is this going to be a problem?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      So when I take my marriage license with me to to SS office and it has my maiden name on it, is this going to be a problem?

      No, it won't be a problem.

      Reply
  24. Cerrie

    I use my spouse last name and I have 2 first names.is it possible for me to drop one of my first names and my spouse name, and go back to my dad's name as my last name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi. You can't effect such a name change through marriage, but you can through petitioning the court.

      Reply
  25. E.G.

    I'm getting married in Pennsylvania, but we live in California and will be doing all of the name changes there. We are combining our names into a new last name. If we write the new last names on the Pennsylvania license and bring the certified license to CA, will everything go smoothly, or are we going to have to go to court because it's from out of state?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi E.G. I don't believe Pennsylvania's marriage license application provides spots to specify a new name. You should be fine using your marriage certificate to change your name how you prefer.

      Reply
  26. Barbra

    Hello Valera,

    I'd like to get married soon (CA). Is it possible to drop one letter in my first name (Barbara to Barbra) and get rid of my middle name completely and take my fiancé last name? Or do I need court order/petition for it?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it possible to drop one letter in my first name (Barbara to Barbra)

      No.

      and get rid of my middle name completely

      No.

      and take my fiancé last name? Or do I need court order/petition for it?

      Yes, you can take your fiance's last name. Be sure to specify this choice on your marriage license when you apply.

      Reply
  27. Tanya

    We are planning on getting married in California. My fiance a foreigner has two last names a father/mother (Campos/Coto) common in latin america. We both want to change our last names. We want to drop his father last name(Campos) and only keep his mother side(Coto). Is that possible?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      We both want to change our last names. We want to drop his father last name(Campos) and only keep his mother side(Coto). Is that possible?

      Yes, it is possible. Specify your choice on the marriage license when you apply.

      Reply
  28. phil

    Hello Valera,

    Legally changed last name through the court (Calif -San Bernardino Cty.) changed my last name to my fathers' last name in 2006.
    Question is my marriage certificate from 2002 legitimate ? Do I need to add amendment for name change ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Question is my marriage certificate from 2002 legitimate ? Do I need to add amendment for name change ?

      Your marriage certificate is legit. You needn't modify it.

      Reply
  29. Ana

    Hello. I got married on October 11th of this year. I wanted to add my husbands name but keep my maidens names as well. I'm still not sure if I did it correctly. The way the office made me do it was First name, Middle name, New Last Name, Maiden Name. Is this correct? I really want to be known with my husbands last name. I always believed that the last name on your name is the one you go by, but the office told me that was wrong and that I couldn't do that. If the way I signed my marriage license is incorrect can I still change my name to the correct order?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      The way the office made me do it was First name, Middle name, New Last Name, Maiden Name. Is this correct? I really want to be known with my husbands last name.

      If using your marriage certificate to effect a name change, you'll have to change it specifically how it's printed on the certificate. You could have flipped the order of new last name and maiden name when applying. Having your maiden name last isn't required.

      If the way I signed my marriage license is incorrect can I still change my name to the correct order?

      Amendments are reserved for errors. Perhaps you could argue this was a clerical error due to the clerk giving you faulty or ambiguous instructions.

      Reply
  30. Pat

    Hi, I am the executor of my late husband's estate, he died in 2013, I finally received a wrongful death check made out to my late husband's estate. I ran into a snag with all of the banks that I tried to open an estate account with as I remarried Sept 2016 and they all told me the same thing….that I had to go get my name changed back to the name I used on the court papers as executor of the estate or would have to go to court and DMV and SS to change my name back in order to open the account and then they told me I had to use my legal new married name but it had to match the name on the estate estate! I handed over Death and Marriage certificates to late husband and my new marriage license and my new and old DMV and SS, old license had a hile in it via DMV and so they refused to accept it, My attorney was with me and said she never went through this one before ….so what now ??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Pat. Consider getting their declaration in writing citing the rules/statutes the denial stems from and consult with the probate court and/or estate attorney.

      Reply
  31. Maria

    I am getting married and my daughter has asked to add my new last name to hers. I would like to hyphenate it. Is this possible?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      my daughter has asked to add my new last name to hers. I would like to hyphenate it. Is this possible?

      Are you saying your daughter wants you to add her last name to yours? Please clarify.

      Reply
  32. LindaLu

    California: I hyphenated on my Marriage license. I never changed SS, DMV, Passport.
    1) is there a law that I MUST change my SS to match my marriage license? ie, which "form" is the "legal" acknowledged name?
    2) when I go to do Bank paperwork/signings or 401K signingsor Living Trust, Do I use my hyphenated name? (cuz I haven't changed my SS). Should my living trust have my hyphenated name that's shown on my marriage license or my SS name which is still my maiden name?
    or can I continue to use my maiden name? ie, are the names interchangeable? Can I use solely my husband's last name for applications? or just my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I hyphenated on my Marriage license. I never changed SS, DMV, Passport. 1) is there a law that I MUST change my SS to match my marriage license?

      No, there's no law that says you must follow through and change your name.

      2) when I go to do Bank paperwork/signings or 401K signingsor Living Trust, Do I use my hyphenated name?

      You'd use the name that's on your SS card, which is your maiden name.

      Reply
  33. Dennis

    Hello!

    Thank you so much for all of this helpful information. I have a complicated question for you.

    First, let me tell you what I'd like to do as it concerns my name. I'd like to basically swap my middle name to my last name and have my current last name be my middle name. Make sense? So for instance my current name is Dennis Middle Last and I'd like to change it to Dennis Last Middle.

    Second, I got married last year and have delayed getting the official paperwork done because I wanted to change my last name. My wife is planning on taking my new last name once I get it situated.

    Question for you. What is the best process to get this done? Should I first go through the process of filing a petition to change my name first, then applying for a marriage license so that my wife can easily change her last name to match. Or can do all of this via the Marriage License Application? I've been reading that we can only change our last names through the Marriage License Application if we're either taking one of our existing last names, hyphenating, or blending. My situation seems unique, so I wasn't sure if it would be allowed.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I'd like to basically swap my middle name to my last name and have my current last name be my middle name.

      Not possible.

      Should I first go through the process of filing a petition to change my name first, then applying for a marriage license so that my wife can easily change her last name to match. Or can do all of this via the Marriage License Application?

      Petition first.

      I've been reading that we can only change our last names through the Marriage License Application if we're either taking one of our existing last names, hyphenating, or blending.

      Middle and last names can be changed, within certain parameters.

      Reply
  34. Husband’s Name as Middle

    I recently married and took my husband’s last name as my middle name since I didn’t originally have a middle name. My previous name read “first name, maiden name.” My new name reads “first name, husband’s LN, maiden name.”

    1. Do I need to change my SSN, banks, IRS, passport, etc to reflect the added middle name?

    2. Can I open bank accounts and have the credit cards issued using just my first name and (new/added) middle name?

    3. I will be going by “first name, maiden name” professionally but “first name, middle name” personally. Is there anything I need to do for these changes?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      1. Do I need to change my SSN, banks, IRS, passport, etc to reflect the added middle name?

      Only if you want you want to legally change your name.

      2. Can I open bank accounts and have the credit cards issued using just my first name and (new/added) middle name?

      If you're referring to using your new middle name as a last name, then that wouldn't be valid.

      3. I will be going by “first name, maiden name” professionally but “first name, middle name” personally. Is there anything I need to do for these changes?

      You don't have to do anything if you're using it informally.

      Reply
  35. Caroline

    Hi! I'll be getting married next year. I want to change my first name to a completely different name and take my husband's last name as my last name and keep my first name as my middle name. Would I be able to do this on the marriage certificate or would I need a court order?

    Reply
  36. Zoe

    One year ago I got married but chose not to take my husband's last name; our marriage license has my maiden name listed. Now, I'd like to legally change my name. What is the first step I need to take?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Zoe. Since you didn't specify a new name choice on your marriage license, you'll have to petition the court for a name change.

      Reply
  37. Rachel

    I recently got married and realized I made a mistake on my marriage license. On my marriage license, I put my mom's maiden name as my middle name and put my dad's last name and my husbands last name as my last name. So basically I have two last names and they are not hyphenated. So my name is "first name, middle name, and two last names".

    I want to drop my mom's maiden name and put my dad's last name as my middle name and keep my husbands last name as my last name by itself. Is it possible to do this? Would I have to go to the court to change it? I live in California.

    Reply
    1. Rachel

      Adding to my comment, we just did a small civil marriage November 1, 2017 and we have not yet received our marriage certificate. Will i have to put both our last names as last names when I change my drivers license and SS card? Is it possible to change it since the office clerk I had did not really specify that I could use my last name as my middle name?

      Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Rachel. You could try to get the certificate amended, but it's unlikely to be accepted. If you can't get an amendment you'll have to petition the court for a name change.

      Reply
  38. Jessa

    Hi
    I got married in October 2017 in Nevada and I wanted to hyphen my last name with mine and his, they didn't give me the option on the marriage license and my marriage certificate reflex my maiden one. But I live in CA how would I go about changing it here? I wasn't sure if I could just bring a copy of the certificate to the DMV and other places to get it changed or would I have to go through the court. any advice would be helpful! thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jessa. Nevada marriage licenses and certificates do not provide spaces to specify a new name. That won't stop you from changing your name through marriage in California though. Just bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate as-is. You do not have to go through the court system.

      Reply
  39. Judith

    Hello, I got married in may 2015 and changed my last name on the marriage certificate but I haven't done anything else. Do my husband and I need to apply for a new license? Where do I start so that I can begin the last name change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Judith. You'll just need to obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate and use it as-is to change your name with the necessary government institutions.

      Reply
  40. Laura

    Hello,

    My boyfriend currently has two last names, not hyphenated. When we get married, he wants to drop one of his last names and i want to take just that one last name. For example, he would go from Bob Michael Smith Johnson to Bob Michael Johnson, dropping the first of his two last names, Smith. I would change my last name to Johnson. Is this allowed in California without petitioning the court?

    Thank you for your help!

    Reply
  41. Nat

    Hi Valera, I got married in April 2017 in PA. I originally doesn't have last name, so in my marriage certificate only written my first name. Currently I live in CA and would like to have my husband last name as my last name. Would it be possible to add last name in marriage certificate? Or do I need to petition the court for a name change? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nat. You don't need to modify your certificate nor petition the court. Use your existing certificate as-is to change your name.

      Reply
  42. Aaron

    Hi
    I want to marry and keep all three names, first, middle and last but add a hyphen for the new last name. I can do that?

    Reply
  43. Nat

    Hi Valera. I got married in April 2017 in Pennsylvania. Originally I don't have a last name, so my name on marriage certificate only shows my given name (single word). Now I live in California and would like to add my husband name as my last name. Would it be possible to add it on marriage certificate or is it necessary to petition to court for a name change? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nat. Such marriage certificate amendments are not possible and unnecessary. Just use your marriage certificate as-is to complete a name change.

      Reply
  44. Maria

    Hi- my fiancé and I are getting married in about a month in California. Concurrently, he is also going through the process to be legally adopted (as an adult) in the state of Washington (where his stepfather resides). Once the adoption is finalized, he will receive a new birth certificate showing his new legal last name is the same as his stepdad's.
    If the adoption is finalized after the wedding, could we file an amendment to the certificate to have our last names changed to his new legal last name? Or would I have to file to have my name changed through the courts even though it is resulting from our marriage? Please advise.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If the adoption is finalized after the wedding, could we file an amendment to the certificate to have our last names changed to his new legal last name?

      No.

      Or would I have to file to have my name changed through the courts even though it is resulting from our marriage? Please advise.

      Yes, through the courts.

      Reply
  45. Angela McClaron

    My daughter wants to Hyphenate her last name and we are trying to figure out the processes. We live in California and I know that there is a name changing process, but I don’t understand it fully. My daughter wants to keep her last name but hyphenate her step-dad name to it. Her dad is not to please with it, but told her it is her decision. Can you explain the process to me? Also, we know that if she waits until she is 18 then we do not have to petition her father. The problem with that is she leaves for college a month after she turns 18, and will not be around for the court date. Could I stand in for her, or would she have to fly back home for the court date? One more question, if we start the process when she is 17 and then turns 18 while we are waiting for her court date, do we still have to petition her father?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Angela. You'll petition the superior court on your child's behalf. She doesn't have to participate. Submit form NC-100.

      Reply
  46. Nancy Herrera

    I know this article was published a while ago but hopefully I can get some help. I’m going to be getting married soon and I would like to take my fiancé’s last name, but don’t really want to deal with changing it on everything (at least for now) is that something possible or am I required to change all my legal documents (SS card, passport, license) to the new last name? And if I am not required is there a time frame that I would have to change it by?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      am I required to change all my legal documents (SS card, passport, license) to the new last name?

      No.

      And if I am not required is there a time frame that I would have to change it by?

      There is no time frame. Take as long as you need.

      Reply
  47. Angela

    I got married in California. I excluded my last name and decided to take my husbands last name as my last name on our marriage license. I now want to keep my last name as my middle name. Since it's not stated on our lisence do I still have to go to court to change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Since it's not stated on our lisence do I still have to go to court to change?

      Yes, unfortunately you'll have to go to court.

      Reply
  48. Lisa

    When my fiancé and I filed for our marriage license in California we tried to change our surnames to my mother's maiden name. The county clerk said that to do that we would each need a court order. In San Francisco our petition fees combined would be around $900.
    As a more affordable alternative- Could just only one of us file the petition, and then when the surname has been legally changed, we file for a second marriage license and re-marry, so the other spouse may take the new surname?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lisa. As far as I know, California doesn't have a remarriage license option.

      Reply
      1. Lisa

        Thank you so much for answering my question, I had so much trouble finding info about this topic, I really appreciate it! One more query in reply- What if we let the license expire? It would mean waiting longer to get married, but could we re-apply for a new license again after the court order has gone through? Again, thank you so much for your time.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Lisa. You don't have to wait for the existing marriage license to expire. You can go in at any time and have them reissue you another license that'll restart the 90-day expiration countdown. You'll have to repay the license fee. If you reapply before expiration, bring in the old license so that it can be voided.

          Of course, this assumes one of you completed the court petitioned name change, updated the SSA, and can present valid government-issued photo ID showing the new name.

          Reply
  49. Earl

    Not related to marriage but I changed my name slightly in Canada in 1970s. This year I applied to renew my CA DL but I may have inadvertently checked off NO on the question “have you applied under any other name.” Not sure if they mean simultaneously or in the past. Could DMV get me in legal trouble? I am partially blind and typing and reading in artificial light is getting hard and vision getting worse, still can drive as the straight and far-away is still ok. I am otherwise considered somewhat disabled and with onset of Alzheimer and I am 75.

    Reply
  50. Tish

    Hi few questions hope you can help with.
    Got married changed name moved ex husband last name to a second middle name and took new husband's last name. Now getting divorced.
    1. Can I move 2nd middle name to last name (meaning go back to 1 ex husband's last name to match child?
    2. If wanted to can I make up something different if I didn't want to go back to madien name?
    3. If I make up a name can I have my child's name changed if I have sole custody and no contact with the father?
    4. If I can't do 2 without a court petition can I do mine and my child's at the same time with one filing?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tish. #1 and #2 is up to the divorce judge. Yes, you can change your child's name after you change your name.

      Reply
  51. Cherry

    Hi. I use my maiden name after marriage. Because my father wanted me to keep my maiden name. Last year my husband passed away. I feel outside of his in -law family and separate because of my maiden name. Can I change my last name to my late husband's last name? I live in CA.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I change my last name to my late husband's last name?

      If your marriage certificate indicates that you'd take your husband's surname as your surname, you can change it. If it doesn't show this, you'll have to obtain a court order.

      Reply
  52. Pablo C.

    My wife wants to take my last name. Can we do an affidavit to change her last name on the marriage certificate? She recently changed her last name with the social security office.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My wife wants to take my last name. Can we do an affidavit to change her last name on the marriage certificate?

      California doesn't accept such amendments.

      Reply
  53. Ellenbee

    I’m currently in a registered domestic partnership with my fiancé in California. We are getting married but would like to use her mothers maiden name as our last name and use our ex husbands last names as a second middle name. Is this possible without a court order?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ellenbee. The last name can include a current or birth surname. The middle name can incorporate a current or birth surname along with the current middle name. If this doesn't fit your situation, you'll have to go to court.

      Reply
  54. Dawna

    Is it possible to change my maiden last name to my married name on a birth certificate? I have been living in Clark County Nevada for 25 years and was married in Clark County in 1994. I am filing a petition in Nevada to change the spelling of my first name on my birth certificate and would like to know if I can legally change my maiden name to my married name on the birth certificate also. Would both Nevada and California approve the position?

    Reply
    1. Dawna

      I was born in California that is why I am inquiring about both states.

      Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Dawna. It's unlikely to be approved without a court order that affirms your last name.

      Reply
  55. Chrissie Rogers

    My son is 11, we hyphenated his name with his birth name and my married name two years ago but over the past couple years he has been strong about not wanting his birth name. When we go back to court do I need to file a whole new petition or is there a modification as he would like to speak to the judge and let him know he does not want to carry that name.

    Reply
  56. Salina

    Hi! My husband and I got married in July 2017 and I put his last name down for mine on our marriage certificate. But now we both want to blend our last names together, are we allowed to do that if his last name is on our marriage certificate??

    Reply
    1. Valera

      But now we both want to blend our last names together, are we allowed to do that if his last name is on our marriage certificate?

      When opting for a marriage-based name changed, you may only change your names to what is specified on the marriage certificate. Otherwise, you'd have to go to court to go with a name that's not specified on the certificate.

      Reply
  57. Micky

    my Ex-wife is refusing to change her last name after court ordered in California…. what do i do ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Micky. There's not much that can be done. She'd have to move forward with a name change on her own accord, which is voluntary.

      Reply
  58. Kathy

    I want to confirm that I was required to hyphenate my middle name. My name was First Name, Middle, Last Name and I wanted to take on my future husbands last name while making my maiden name part of my middle name. The county clerk told me I had to hyphenate the middle name. So my name on the marriage license is First Name, Middle Name-Maiden Name, New Last Name. I was wondering if I could have the middle names separated by a space or if a hyphen is necessary. Would prefer space.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kathy. It appears the clerk is going off old information. The California Name Equality Act of 2007 was updated at the beginning of 2017 to remove reference to "hyphenated combination" and instead left it at just "combination." Before this change, the instructions to clerks explicitly required hyphenation.

      Reply
      1. Kathy

        Thank you! What is the best way to remedy this clerical error? Should I apply for a new marriage license?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Kathy. First, you'll want to at least print page two of the revised name equality act (PDF link). Next, you can submit an affidavit to amend a marriage record with the county clerk. The clerk may have to acknowledge a clerical error.

          Reply
  59. Linda Masterton

    In 1978, when I got married, I was using a last name that was different from my birth certificate. I have used my married name since then. In order to get the new California ID driver's license that will be required to fly in 2020, I need to provide documentation that connects my birth certificate to my marriage license. What do I need to do to accomplish that?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What do I need to do to accomplish that?

      Your marriage certificate will suffice.

      Reply
  60. Elda

    I recently got married. Before I go to the SSA and have my last name change to my husband that's how it is in the marriage certificate. I want to have my last name as well, but in the certificate it is not in as my new last name along with his. What can I do there? Also, I feel that it is going to be weird because he has both last names of his parents and it's going to be complicated having three last names. So what last name of his do I take, so I can also add my last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Elda. In California, the name you change to would have to match what's on the certificate.

      Reply
  61. casey kramer

    Hi, I was married in 2013 and had a child with my ex-husband six days before our divorce wad finalized in 2015. In our divorce decree, it states I could go back to my maiden name, but I never did because I wanted to have our sons last name as I have sole custody. I am now with a man whom I love and we are planning to have a child together but do not plan to get married and want our new son to have my last name. However, because I never changed back to my maiden name, I feel it unfair for my new baby to bear my ex-husbands last name, so wanted to hyphenate my last name. Therefore I would have both names of my children; my first son from my ex-husband and my second son from my maiden name. My question is this, do I need to petition the superior court for an adult name change or will my divorce decree suffice even though ti does not state I can hyphenate, just return to my maiden name. Thank you in advance

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My question is this, do I need to petition the superior court for an adult name change or will my divorce decree suffice even though ti does not state I can hyphenate, just return to my maiden name.

      You would have to petition the court.

      Reply
  62. Tiffanie

    So I can change and hyphen mine and his name on the marriage certificate but I have no time limit to report or make legal changes for DMV, SSN…? But in order to open bank accounts or credit cards in my new hyphenated name I would have to report my marriage certificate to SSN and DMV? Or could I just show the bank my marriage certificate? And can outside agencies see that I’ve been married without me directly reporting this to them? Or can just anyone or agency just see I’ve been married once the ceremony and paperwork is complete?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      So I can change and hyphen mine and his name on the marriage certificate

      You'd specify the hyphened name on the marriage license application, which would automatically be reflected on the marriage certificate.

      but I have no time limit to report or make legal changes for DMV, SSN…?

      Correct.

      But in order to open bank accounts or credit cards in my new hyphenated name I would have to report my marriage certificate to SSN and DMV?

      That depends on your bank's rules and procedures. They may or may not require an identity document in your new name.

      Or could I just show the bank my marriage certificate?

      Same as the above. Private businesses can establish their own rules.

      And can outside agencies see that I’ve been married without me directly reporting this to them? Or can just anyone or agency just see I’ve been married once the ceremony and paperwork is complete?

      Unless you've opted for a confidential marriage license, your marriage certificate is a public record that anyone may access.

      Reply
      1. Tiffanie

        Thank you so much for getting back to me! So much appreciation… does having a confidential marriage license restrict me from advantages that a public marriage would have. Or does it just hide it from the public and is it a bad thing to have a confidential marriage and why would one have a marriage in confidence anyway??

        Reply
        1. Tiffanie

          Can someone only access a marriage record if they request and pay for the record.

          Reply
          1. Valera

            Hi Tiffanie. Only the couple to the marriage can obtain a certified copy of their confidential marriage record. It's not part of the public record. However, it can still be obtain by a court order.

          2. Tiffanie

            Valera,

            Thank you for all your help. It’s much appreciated.

        2. Valera

          Or does it just hide it from the public and is it a bad thing to have a confidential marriage

          Yes, it just hides it from public record. It's not bad, and the clerks don't care which one you purchase.

          and why would one have a marriage in confidence anyway?

          Historically, it was used as a means to bypass the blood test requirement that was repealed in 1995. Today, it's just used for privacy purposes.

          FYI, you can optionally purchase a confidential marriage license from an authorized notary public instead of going to the county clerk.

          Reply
  63. Ashley Irons

    Hello I got married in 2014 in Bakersfield California..I put on my Marriage license to change my last name but never went and did it.. Is there a time limit on this..

    Reply
  64. Trang

    Hi, I got married in Hawaii and at the time wanted to change my name. I am having second thoughts and want to keep my maiden name. How do I change it back on my marriage license? I have not legal changed my name on SS card, DL or anywhere else.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How do I change it back on my marriage license? I have not legal changed my name on SS card, DL or anywhere else.

      You can try to request an amendment, but it's not likely to be accepted. Your marriage record can be considered just a public vital record and historical document. It's not meant to be altered after recording unless there's an error or court order forcing its alteration.

      Reply
      1. Diana

        Hello Valera,
        Like Trang, I changed my name on my California marriage license, but no where else. I replaced my middle name with my maiden name but then decided I wanted to keep my middle and maiden name after all. 1) do I need to officially request a change to the marriage license? 2) will I run into legal problems (medical, trust, etc). 3) when asked on legal forms, ie. passports, “if known by other names”, must I report the name I have on my marriage license?

        I am an Arizona resident (living part time in California)

        Reply
        1. Valera

          I replaced my middle name with my maiden name but then decided I wanted to keep my middle and maiden name after all 1) do I need to officially request a change to the marriage license?

          No.

          2) will I run into legal problems (medical, trust, etc).

          No.

          3) when asked on legal forms, ie. passports, “if known by other names”, must I report the name I have on my marriage license?

          No.

          Reply
  65. C.B.

    Hi!

    I saw a somewhat similar question above, but I want to be sure I understand correctly. I am a medical professional, and want to have two last names without a hyphen once I am married (First, middle, Maiden name new last name) so I can utilize my maiden name at work legally but still go by his last name socially & legally. We are getting married in California.

    Am I able to have two last names without a hyphen? If not, do you have any suggestions of how I can keep/use both legally? I have considered having 2 middle names if i cannot have 2 last names (first, middle maiden name, new last name)

    Thank you for your help!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Am I able to have two last names without a hyphen?

      Yes, you can have two last names without a hyphen. This is also referred to as a double-barreled name change or space-separated surname.

      Reply
  66. Michelle

    Hi!
    I got married in San Francisco, CA and in my marriage license it has my first name, middle name and my husband’s last name. Now, I wanted to change it to First name, Maiden name and Husband’s last name. I went to SSA and they where able to change my name to first, maiden and husband’s last name but DMV did not. My question is 1) how do I get my maiden name my new middle name, do I have to get a court order to change it? 2) Or, can I just go to the clerk and ask to change it? I really want all my documents to have my first, maiden and my husbands last name. Please help and thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Michelle. The clerk is unlikely to change it, because it's not an error. You'd have to go to court.

      Reply
  67. Whitney

    Hi Michelle.

    I got married in 2018 and changed my last name to my husbands but now I would like to hyphen it with my maiden name and his last name. Will I have to petition the court?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will I have to petition the court?

      Yes, such a follow-up name change requires a court order.

      Reply
  68. Victoria Larios

    Hello, I got married July 2016 in California, and on the marriage license I took my husbands last name but have never changed it through ss, CA-ID etc. Do I have to change my last name to my husbands last name? how does the name change professionally-maiden name and spouse name-legally work? is that still possible in my case? I am torn changing my last name, I want to change for my husband but i love my last name the way it is. If it is possible what do I have to do? Thank you for your help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Victoria. Changing your name is voluntary. If you choose not to do so, whatever's on your marriage certificate doesn't matter.

      If you do change your name to your husband's, you can maintain your prior name professionally by informal usage, while making sure your taxes and official business documents are in your legal name. You can take it a step further by registering a DBA or fictitious name in your maiden name.

      You can also do the inverse: not changing your name while using your husband's surname socially.

      Reply
  69. Esther Mccasland

    hi i live in california i filed for a divorce it was suposed to be a default judgement but before everything went through my husband died now im a widow who wants to change my last name back to my maiden name how can i do it

    Reply
  70. Mattie

    My fiance and I live in Oakland and are getting married in Texas next year. We want to change both of our last names to his current middle name.
    I would: drop my current middle name, use maiden name as new middle name and his current middle name as my new last name. He would: reverse his current middle and last names.
    I am having such a hard time finding information about doing this as a name change through marriage and if the out-of-state license will present a problem as well. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      We want to change both of our last names to his current middle name.

      This is not possible via marriage name change. Neither of you can change your last name to a middle name without petitioning the court. It doesn't matter if the marriage takes place in California or Texas.

      Reply
  71. Rob Scott

    Hi!

    My wife and I married in June 2016 and when we received our marriage license, the boxes for our new married names were left blank even though we specified for both of us to take my last name. We thought maybe that’s just how it supposed to look if your not doing anything out of the ordinary with your names… so my wife went ahead and took that marriage license to Social Security and they allowed my wife to change her new name so we thought alright! everything is ok! However when she took that same marriage license to the DMV with her new Social Security card (that had her new name) they told her no! they needed to see it written on the marriage license and that the social security office never should have changed it for her. Now what do we do? She really wants her new name on her drivers license and passport.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now what do we do? She really wants her new name on her drivers license and passport.

      Return to the county clerk's office that recorded your marriage license and request an amendment to your marriage certificate. You'll have to claim that they made a clerical error. They'll dig up the original marriage application to confirm that she did indeed specify a new last name after marriage when applying.

      If it's confirmed that they made a mistake, they'll attach an amendment to you marriage record and reissue you a new certificate that you can use to change your name with the DMV.

      Reply
  72. Connie

    Hello: When I got married I decided to hyphenate my last name which is my last name + my husband's last name. I've since decided to drop the hyphen and just take his name. Do I need a court order? How do I go about doing this in California? (we were married in Nevada) Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Connie. If your marriage certificate has a spot that references a new name after marriage, you may have to petition the court to deviate from that. If it just shows your current or maiden name, you should be able to change it just using your certificate as-is.

      Reply
  73. Alya Hameed

    We got married 7 years ago, and have argued back and forth about my taking his name. I thought maybe he'd let it go, but once in a while it comes up (say, for applying for a travel visa to India) and he gets really frustrated that we don't have uniformity, and legally don't "sound" like a family, should it be necessary to demonstrate that (marriage license notwithstanding). I'm wondering if I should just do it. I don't like to hyphenate, and I'm wondering if there's a way to add his last name after mine so that they are two words but spaced (not hyphenated).

    Also, I'm trying to understand, because I intend to keep my own name for professional purposes, but to get a name change is to change it on the Drivers License, passport, etc?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I don't like to hyphenate, and I'm wondering if there's a way to add his last name after mine so that they are two words but spaced (not hyphenated).

      Obtaining a space-separated last name would be achievable if your marriage took place in California and the marriage certificate reflected that choice. If the marriage took place outside of California, another state's or country's marriage certificate may not be accepted for such a change. In such circumstances it may come down to the flexibility of the clerk/agent you deal with.

      but to get a name change is to change it on the Drivers License, passport, etc?

      Social security card too.

      Reply
  74. Vivian

    We will be getting married this year and I want to change my last name to match his last name and also change my first name to a new one that I have been using as my preferred name. Would it be easier to change both legally after marriage and our honeymoon trip?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Vivian. You'll have to go to court to change your first name. A court-petitioned name change can be done before or after marriage.

      Reply
  75. Brenda Hernandez

    Hello!
    I changed my last name when I got married but made my maiden name into my middle name. I soon regretted this and just want to get rid of the middle name. Since I only changed my name with SSD can I go to them to remove it or would I have to go to court? Thank you for any info!

    Reply
  76. Savannah

    Hi,

    I recently (Fall 2017) got married in the state of Georgia, but am a resident of California. I am looking to change my name to myFirst myMiddle myMaiden hisLast. When we applied for the marriage license in Georgia, I included this ordering in the new name section on the application; however, from what I can tell, both the issued license and the certificate use only my full maiden name and never specify the new name. Will these documents be sufficient for this name change in California, or will I need to petition the court?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Savannah

      I should also clarify, I don't have the a copy of the Georgia License application anymore, just the license itself and the later certificate.

      Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Savannah. If the certificate doesn't distinguish between prior and new name, you should be able to use it fine.

      Reply
      1. Savannah

        Thank you! This is the first place I could find an answer. I didn't even realize that different certificates distinguished prior and new names until I found you guys. Thanks again for the great work!

        Reply
  77. Tina

    I got married last July and now starting the process to change my name officially. However, on the marriage certificate I indicated my New Name to be: First Name, Middle name as my Maiden Name, and last name as Husband’s Last Name. However, I realized I do want to keep my original middle name. I will take my husnand’s last name but I no longer wish to have a new middle name but rather keep with my current middle name. Will this be a problem when I go and change my last name in my Social Security Card, Drivers License, etc? Thank you for your help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tina. You likely won't face a problem considering the surname is considered the principal identifier.

      Reply
      1. Tina

        Thank you for your response. To note, we were married and also live in California if that makes a difference. But thank you again!

        Reply
  78. Leti B

    Hi, i got married in 2016 and did not change my name. my husband and i kept our names as is.

    if we want to change our last names can we still do that?

    Married and live in Calfornia. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      if we want to change our last names can we still do that?

      Hi Leti. You can change your name to whatever new name is specified on your California marriage certificate. If a new name was not specified or you want to deviate from what was chosen, you'll have to petition the court for a general adult name change.

      Reply
  79. Greg Thomas

    Hi,

    I recently got married in California and got my marriage certificate. In mother's name by mistake I didn't write the maiden name. Is there a way I can correct that to her maiden name.

    Thanks,
    Greg

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Greg. You can contact the office that recorded your license for a correction/amendment.

      Reply
  80. Elizabeth Alter

    I’m getting married in CO this summer, but reside in California. Which state’s name change laws are relevant? If I want to have two last names, no hyphen, (firstname, drop existing middle, maidenname husbands_lastname) is that possible? And if not, can I make my maiden my middle name at the time of getting the marriage license without additional court appearances? Also, can my future husband make change his middle to my last name in both states?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I’m getting married in CO this summer, but reside in California. Which state’s name change laws are relevant?

      California's.

      If I want to have two last names, no hyphen, (firstname, drop existing middle, maidenname husbands_lastname) is that possible?

      Two last names without a hyphen? Yes. Dropping your middle name? No.

      And if not, can I make my maiden my middle name at the time of getting the marriage license without additional court appearances?

      Yes.

      Also, can my future husband make change his middle to my last name in both states?

      Just in California.

      Reply

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