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. Melanie

    I'm in California and got married two weeks ago. When I went to go to do my name change they said I couldn't do it. they wouldn't accept it. I don't know what to do.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Melanie. What do you mean they wouldn't accept it? They didn't accept the name change you were trying to put through, or they wouldn't accept your paperwork?

      Reply
      1. Melanie

        They said I couldn't use my maiden name for my middle name. I want to drop my middle name and use my maiden instead and they said I had to go to court to do it.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Melanie. Using your maiden name as your middle name is allowed in California. That does not require you to get a court order. That suggests to me that there's a problem with your marriage certificate. Specifically, you must not have specified your intention to take your maiden name as your middle name when you applied for your marriage license. Is that the case?

          Reply
          1. Melanie

            Thanks for getting back. I didn't say I wanted to do my maiden on middle when I got the license. I didn't think about doing it then. I changed my mind later. Now I'm having trouble. They said they cant change it because I didn't put what I wanted to change to on my license when I got it. So how can I change my license to show my maiden name. Or do I have to go to court?

          2. Valera

            Since you hadn't specified the "change to" name when you applied for your license, at this point you'll have to petition the court.

  2. Wendy

    Is there a time limit for a name change after marriage? We were married in Washington in 1997 and changed our name by submitting a form to King County, which is all that is required in Washington to change your name. We don't have anything recorded with the county to prove the name change since Washington does not do it that way. When we moved to California in 2013 the DMV refused to accept our hyphenated last name since our birth certificates and our marriage certificate have our birth surnames on them. The DMV would not accept our former state driver's licenses, our passports, our social security cards, or any other document showing our actual name as it has been for now 18 years (this was in 2014 when we first tried to get this done). If I submit a copy of my marriage certificate through your system can you get me a document that will change my name with the DMV – driver license side only (vehicle registration had no problem using our hyphenated last names). I swear they throw up obstacles just as a way of making money around here.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Wendy. California DMV can be strict about what they will and won't accept. If you're unable to make headway with another clerk or office, you may have to go through a court petitioned name change.

      Reply
  3. Angie

    I live in California and will be getting married at the end of 2016. I would like to keep my name and add the new last name. However, his legal last name on his birth certificate is both his mothers maiden and fathers surname and it is not hyphenated. I want to make sure I write my name correctly the first time so I don't have to petition the court for a name change. It would look like: first name, (middle name) original middle + maiden name, (new last name) his mothers maiden + fathers surname (not hyphenated on birth certificate). For example, Mary (first) Cuevas Gonzalez (middle) Juarez Hernandez. Does my new middle have to have the two names hyphenated or can I leave them as is?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Does my new middle have to have the two names hyphenated or can I leave them as is?

      You can leave them as-is.

      Reply
  4. Roxanna

    I will be getting married in California. I want to keep my last name and add his last name as a second last name. Two last names without a hyphen. Is it possible to do this on the marriage license or will I have to file a name change petition with the court? If this is the case, do I keep my maiden name on the marriage license and then file the name change petition after the wedding?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Roxanna. Based upon the reading of the Name Equality Act, that does not appear to be possible without a court order. Through marriage, you can implement a combination last name separated by a hyphen, or a combination into a "single last name."

      Reply
  5. Deanna

    I recently got married in Nevada. The Nevada license does not have a "change name to" option like the California license does. I want to keep my middle name and add my maiden name as a second middle name, and take my husband's last name as my last name. Do I need to get a court order to do this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Deanna. You'll have to go to court to do a "keep middle (space) maiden name" combination. That would still have been the case had you married in California instead of Nevada.

      Reply
  6. Sara

    My husband and I are preparing to petition the court for our name changes (because our marriage certificate does not designate our new surname). Can we submit one petition (and one $435 fee) for the two of us, or do we each need to petition separately?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      do we each need to petition separately?

      You would have to petition separately and pay separately.

      Reply
  7. Carie

    I am getting married soon in California and am considering using my maiden name hyphen his last name. We are keeping our pre-marriage assets separate and there for these assets are currently title in my maiden name, as well as a Trust. After marriage, can I continue to use my maiden name only for these assets or would I have to re-title everything including my Trust?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Carie. It's a good idea to change your name on titles and trusts so that the bank/title companies don't question your identity. It's a potential problem worth avoiding.

      Reply
  8. Samuel Ademu - John

    My daughter got married in Africa and laminated her marriage certificate to preserve it. The Cal DMV refused to accept a laminated marriage certificate. they insisted that she get another one from Africa. In Sierra Leone, West Africa, the certificate is the one you sign in church. There is no other copy to be made except a photocopy.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      The Cal DMV refused to accept a laminated marriage certificate.

      Three options, if you can't get any DMV agent to accept your document as-is:

      1) Try to remove the lamination yourself. A regular search for "remove lamination" should pull up some results.
      2) Hire a professional delamination service to do this for you.
      3) Get a court ordered name change.

      With #1, you'll need to be careful. Depending on how the lamination was done, the bonding could be so strong that attempts to separate your certificate could ruin it.

      With #2, you'll want to make sure whomever you hire has experience separating such lamination and won't destroy your document. That's why you want someone who specialized in "certificate" delamination.

      Reply
  9. Sue

    I got married in 2014 and kept my name as is. I now want to change it to my husband's last name. Since I didn't plan on changing my last name I didn't get my marriage certificate. I wanted to proceed with changing my last name and I see I need a copy of my marriage certificate. I am almost 100% sure that I didn't specify that I was changing my last name. Do I need to go get another marriage certificate that states I am taking my husband's last name? Please help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sue. You could file an affidavit to amend a marriage record with the county recorders office, although it's meant for name corrections, not changes. If you can't get that processed, you may be looking at having to get a court order.

      Reply
  10. Jalpa Parikh

    Hi! I recently got married in CO and am living in CA. The CO marriage certificate does not have a place for new names-

    1) If I just change my last name to my husband's last name, do I need a court order?

    2) Traditionally we change our middle name to our husbands first name, and the last name to his last name, does this need a court order?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      1) If I just change my last name to my husband's last name, do I need a court order?

      No.

      2) Traditionally we change our middle name to our husbands first name, and the last name to his last name, does this need a court order?

      Yes.

      Reply
  11. Dixee

    Hi, I got married in Nevada 3 yrs ago and there was no place to submit for a name change on the marriage license and they were specific on each of us writing our names as listed on our driver's license. Therefore, my marriage certificate does not list my married name. How do I change my last name in California if my marriage certificate only list my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Dixee. Not all states ask you to specify your new name when applying for a marriage license. California is one that does, Nevada is one that does not. When you get married in another state, the California requirement that your new name be reflected on your marriage certificate does not apply. Your Nevada marriage certificate is good as-is to change your name in California.

      Reply
  12. Kris

    My daughter got married in August in CA and noted that she was changing her last name to her husbands. She hasn't changed any of her documents and is not sure if she wants to. Can she file a joint married tax return with her maiden name or her married name- which is only on her marriage license and nothing else. If she does decide to change everything, should she wait until after her taxes are filed since she would be in the process of changing. She is also going on an international trip in January and needs her passport, so if she did start the process, it probably wouldn't be back in time. If she just has her marriage license in her married name, which is her legal last name-maiden or married?? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can she file a joint married tax return with her maiden name or her married name- which is only on her marriage license and nothing else.

      Taxes should be filed in her current legal name, which is here maiden name.

      If she does decide to change everything, should she wait until after her taxes are filed since she would be in the process of changing.

      There are protocols in place to deal with this. When the SSA is notified of a name change, they'll notify the IRS.

      If she just has her marriage license in her married name, which is her legal last name-maiden or married??

      Maiden.

      Reply
  13. Csilla Bede

    Hi, I see here a lots of people got help.I hope I will get one too. I got married in 2002. In that time the marriage certificate doesn't specified if I want to change my name or not. The main thing I changed my name after my husband but we don't remember how exactly we do it. The problem is now I need to legalize my marriage made in USA in my birth country for my retirement money because there I was with another name and that was changed after 2002. The main thing the lawyer from my country who help me in legalization of marriage and the new name acceptance, told me if I didn't have specified in the marriage certificate the name change, after what kind of law I did the name change and how was the process of name change. Because after that process/law etc. they can except my nem name from my DL or passport.I live an I got married in California,I need some family code or law from California for this situation.Thank you anticipated

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Csilla. You were married in 2002, but the California Name Equality Act wasn't passed until 2007. The question is did the California marriage license in 2002 have a space where you could have specified a married name? If it did not, then your marriage certificate could not have had a chosen married name reflected. You can try to acquire a copy of your marriage license (not certificate) to see if this was a case. Contact the office in the county where your license was issued for further information.

      Reply
  14. Alison

    Does is cost more in California to change your middle name to your maiden name and your last name to your spouse's name, than it would to just change your last name to your spouse's name?

    Reply
  15. Dena Westphalen

    I am marrying my partner in California and we want to blend our last names. The issue is that we want to blend my name (Westphalen) with hers (Chiang) to be Westing and drop the "a" from hers for pronounciatiom purposes. Is this possible without a court order? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      The issue is that we want to blend my name (Westphalen) with hers (Chiang) to be Westing and drop the "a" from hers for pronounciatiom purposes. Is this possible without a court order?

      Maybe. If you weren't dropping the "a", the answer would a clear yes. For that, you could create such a blend without petitioning the court. I say maybe because while California allows segment name changes, it's not clear how lenient they'll be in allowing a letter be omitted.

      You can phone a CA county clerk/recorder and ask them, but even if they say no it may very well vary from clerk to clerk. One clerk may interpret it one way, while another does so differently. You won't ultimately know until you submit your marriage license application.

      Reply
  16. Samantha

    Hello. My husband and I recently got married in Louisiana but we live in California. My last name is Mason and his is McQuarley. We both want to legally change our last name to Mack. To do so, I'm assuming we need a court order since it's not exactly a blend, but wanted to verify? Also, if we need a court order can we fill out one petition out would we need to file separately? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I'm assuming we need a court order since it's not exactly a blend, but wanted to verify?

      Yes, you're correct. You'll need a court order.

      Also, if we need a court order can we fill out one petition out would we need to file separately?

      You'll have to file separately.

      Reply
  17. Joycelyn

    Hi,

    I got married in California last August and decided to not change my name on the marriage license at the time. I thought we could just change it at a later date. Now I want to change my last name to my husbands. Will I have to get a court petition to change my name? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will I have to get a court petition to change my name?

      Yes, you will.

      Reply
  18. Enrica

    Hi, i'm going to get married in few months and my future husband and I donut want to change our last names? Is that a possibility or one of us have to change it?

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      my future husband and I donut want to change our last names? Is that a possibility or one of us have to change it?

      Neither of you are required to change your name.

      Reply
  19. Danny

    Hello! I found your wonderful article through a google search, however, I did not find an answer to my question. I live in California and I took my wife's last name as my new last name.

    Legally, is there a certain amount of time I must report the name change?

    We got married last November 2016, however, I've going through a job change with the city and it will cause a huge headache if I need to reapply all my paperwork. If possible, I would like to report the name change later this year or next year after i'm well situated in my new employment. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Danny. There's no time frame. You can complete it at the time that's most optimal for you.

      Reply
  20. Johana Hi

    Hello,

    I got married 8 months ago in California and I took my husbands last name when we filled out the marriage license. We just went back and got the marriage certificate and I just noticed that I would like to have my maiden last name there too. I haven't change any of my personal information yet since like said before I just got my marriage certificate. Can I go back and add my maiden name to my marriage certificate? For instance it will be name, middle name, his-mine last names or name, middle name, mine-his last name???? Is that possible to do before updating my Social security and DL? Do I have to open a court order?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is that possible to do before updating my Social security and DL? Do I have to open a court order?

      It's not possible. You would have to petition the court.

      Reply
  21. Kirsten

    Hello! I got married in Nevada 2 years ago (Feb 2015) and had my maiden name on the marriage certificate. I wasn't planning on the name change until recently – I want to take my husband's last name and make my maiden name as my middle name (I do not have a middle name).

    1) Do I need to get a court petition to make the change 2 years after the marriage ?

    2) I'm currently on a conditional green card (2 year) with my maiden name on and it's expiring in Oct this year, and I'll be changing to a permanent green card (10 year). I plan to make the name change on the permanent green card when I'm applying in July. Will the updated green card be sufficient for me to make the name change at SSA, DMV? If not, do I need a court petition?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kirsten. Your Nevada marriage certificate will suffice. No need for court. Your current green card will be fine to change your name now too.

      Reply
  22. Belinda Jensen

    I got married over 30 years ago ago… Took his last name….. Divorced about 20 years ago… Didn't change last name….. Ex passedd away approx 5 years ago…I just found out

    How do I go about adding my maiden name back on to my name and keep his…. As my current 401k IBS under current name….I have a middle name….

    Any advice would be helpful……
    Am using a smart phone and have no access to a computer

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Belinda. To append your name to your existing last name, you'll have to petition the court for a general adult name change.

      Reply
  23. Maci

    I will be getting married in Arizona but we both live in California. I am currently still using my ex husbands name as I never changed back to my maiden name after we were divorced. I would like to change my name back to my maiden name after the wedding but use my current husbands name as my middle name, and dropping my middle name. So, my first/ his last/ my maiden name. Will I need more than the Arizona marriage license to this in California?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  24. Rei

    Hi, I got married in Nevada on Jan 2017. Had my maiden name in the marriage license and certificate. My husband and I want to start filing applications to adjust my status here in CA and I want to take/use my husband lastname and my maiden name as my new middle name in everything. What should i do for me to do that? Should i need to file a petition to court for a middle name change to my maiden name? Thank You!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rei. No need to petition the court. You'll just need to get a certified copy of your Nevada marriage certificate.

      Reply
  25. Elizabeth Arreola

    Hello,

    I am planning on getting married in July and we are applying in May for our marriage license. I want to keep my name the way it is and i want to take my husbands last name but add (de) in front of it. It is a traditional cultural thing to do in Latin America and i want to do that. His last name is Mateos, so i want to be ( de Mateos) I also do not want to drop my middle name Patricia because it is my mothers name. Is this a possibility for me to do. I am worried that I will not be able to have the name I want.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Elizabeth. You wouldn't be able to add "de" without getting a court order. You can keep your middle name unchanged.

      Reply
  26. Elizabeth

    I was married in California in 2015, and I chose to take my wife's last name on the marriage certificate. Since then, I haven't updated my social/drivers license/passport. Is there a time limit before it's to late to change my last name in the social?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there a time limit before it's to late to change my last name in the social?

      No, there's no time limit to be concerned about.

      Reply
  27. Sandra Brushwood

    I live in California and I've been divorced for 23 years, but kept my married name for the sake of my daughter. I now wish to return to my maiden name. What forms do I need to fill out to do this, where do I find them and what are the fees? Please advise.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sandra. If your divorce decree included an order restoring your maiden name, then use that document to change your name. If you don't have it, or it's not a certified copy, then order one from CA vital records. If your decree didn't have such an order, you can petition the court.

      Reply
  28. Christine

    Hello,
    I am getting married this year in CA and know I want to take his last name as my new last name. However I have 1 son and don't want to lose my/his last name. But I would really prefer to keep my maiden name and add his no hyphen. My hope is that I could use the last names interchangeable, as in use either one that I choose (because they are both listed), with the exception of signing legal documents.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      But I would really prefer to keep my maiden name and add his no hyphen.

      If you're referring to your name, then you can do this, but only for the last name.

      My hope is that I could use the last names interchangeable, as in use either one that I choose

      Yes, informal usage is fine.

      Reply
  29. Elizabeth

    My future husband and I would like to change our last name to something completely unrelated to either of our last names. How would we go about doing that? He's currently in the army so appearing for court dates might be incredibly difficult but do-able if we have to.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Elizabeth. You could blend names. That is, take a part of each name to form a new name. That's something you could specify when you apply for your marriage license. That wouldn't require you going to court. Beyond that, you will have to petition the court.

      Reply
  30. Shelly

    I am getting married in May 2017 and will be going on our honeymoon in October 2017. I will be taking my husband-to-be's last name and will fill that out on the marriage license. Is there a time limit on when I officially change my name post-wedding without incurring additional fees? We already bought our tickets for the honeymoon and the airline doesn't allow name changes so wanted to wait until we come back from the honeymoon to change my last name to his.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shelly. There's no time limit. You can wait until you come back, which does make sense.

      Reply
  31. wendy

    I am getting ready to apply for a marriage license in California, Im taking my husbands last name and want to change my middle name to a made up name that doesn't relate to our last names at all. Would it cause problems later and possibly nullify our license? It is very important to me to use this made up name as my new middle name! I've gone by it as a "last name" (unofficially) for 20 years.
    if I can't do that, can I change my middle to be blank?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Wendy. You can't change your middle name to something completely brand new; your middle name must be derived from you or your prospective spouse's current/birth last names. Blanks aren't possible either. You'll have to petition the court.

      Reply
  32. Caroline M

    Hi!

    I was married in 2006 and never changed my name. I'd like to avoid paying the court fee for an official name change. Can I sign up for another marriage license, get married again and then change my name?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Carolina. You must be referencing the requirements in the name equality act. That act wasn't passed until 2007. Your marriage predates it.

      Reply
  33. Michael

    Mike
    April 24,2017

    Hi
    I got married and my wife is from the Philippines. Is there a waiting time for her to change her last name to mine

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there a waiting time for her to change her last name to mine

      It can be changed as soon as the marriage certificate is in hand.

      Reply
  34. Erika

    My fiancé and I went to fill out our marriage license recently (we have not gotten married yet) and on the form I asked to change my name to match his, but now I want to keep my maiden name. Can we fill a new license as we haven't filed the current license yet?We are in California.

    Reply
    1. Erika

      One more question, is it a requirement in California to change our ss card, passport, drivers licence etc. to match our marriage license? Would there be any issues down the line if I didn't change my ss, passport, drivers license etc.?

      Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Erika. Yes, you can fill out a new application to override the old.

      Reply
  35. zela

    I changed my last name sometime last year for professional reasons and realized it's causing me lots of problems. how can I revert back to my old name? would I have to go through the whole name change process again??.. hope not :-/

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Zela. If you've formally changed your name with the SSA, DMV, etc, you'll need to petition the court to change it again.

      Reply
  36. Karina

    Hii!! Me and my husband got married in 2012 in Orlando and we currenlty live in San Diego! I wasn't planning on changing my last name to mu husbands, but now with our baby on the way (4 weeks out..yay), I decided to change it. I just don't know where to start. Can I do it here in California or do I have to do it through Florida? Also, do I need a court order or just our original marriage certificate will do? And last question, where do I go to do this? I'm a permanent resident, so I don't really understand if I can do this online or if I have to go to the courthouse. I hope you can help me! Thank you!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Me and my husband got married in 2012 in Orlando and we currenlty live in San Diego!

      …snip…

      I just don't know where to start. Can I do it here in California or do I have to do it through Florida?

      You'll do it in California, not Florida.

      Also, do I need a court order or just our original marriage certificate will do?

      Just a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

      And last question, where do I go to do this?

      When you have your certificate, go to the SSA, then DMV, then passport office, etc.

      Reply

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