In Georgia, name change takes place in a number of ways, as per the laid out legal process. Nonetheless, like in many other jurisdictions, the procedure has some unique traits that you need to know before going ahead with a name change.
Name Change After Marriage
After getting married in Georgia, a marriage certificate is provided showing that you have been married legally. The document is very important since it will serve as a testimony of your marriage and will come in handy in completing a number of procedures.
For instance, the marriage certificate is what you use to notify the different government agencies concerned with a number of things, such as Driver Services, banking, IRS or Social Security Administration. This also includes any other non-government organization you interact with, such as memberships to clubs and societies, credit card companies, and employers, among others.
Remember to apply for a marriage license bearing the last name that you would like to use henceforth. You also have a number of name change options in Georgia apart from taking your spouse's.
Keep the last name
While it seems obvious, there is definitively no need to go ahead with a name change if you don't want to. The reason why you might want to remain with the last name are immense, for instance a great career that is hugely associated with your name, such as journalism, writing or artistry.
Family ties are usually very strong and you might want to continue being identified with it, even after marriage, while the last name might be a reflection of your heritage. Perhaps you love the sound of your name, dislike the last name of your spouse, and want to avoid the pain of applying for new documents through filling lengthy paperwork, a teacher who doesn't want to confuse her students, among other reasons.
Hyphenating last names
Hyphenating the last names is now one of the most acceptable name change options anywhere. It's much better for both spouses seeking an equal representation by allowing the better of two worlds. This option also ensures the spouse retains professional connections with their careers that could be affected if the name did change.
Maiden to middle name change
This is one of the trendiest ways of changing your name in modern times, something that Hillary Rodham Clinton decided to go with. It allows a woman to remain with the name she likes while embracing the married life. It's also possible to go for two middle names in case you want to maintain both the maiden name and the current name you are using at the middle. This allows you to be recognized very fast, which might not be the case if you scrapped the middle name completely.
Husband taking wife's last name
While this doesn't happen a lot, Georgia is one of the eight states where this is allowed. After marriage, even men can use the same marriage certificate to change their names into their spouse's.
A whole new name for both spouses
This is a wholly new creative or extreme option where both spouses come together and create a wholly new last name. Essentially, this option lets you come up with anything, from agreeing on a specific different last name, blending both last names and creating a unique name or selecting a name that bears some significance for your families or a name that means something you both like. There's a catch: it's the only option that requires petitioning the court.
Divorce Name Change
In Georgia, spouses can go back to their previous names after divorce. To do it effortlessly and fast, do it within the petition for divorce where you will not be charged any extra fee, as name change is considered a part of the divorce.
Forgot to request your maiden name be restored during divorce proceedings?
If you forget to indicate your desire to change your name during the divorce, you can do it at any other time you feel comfortable through the general adult name change process.
Name change choices for divorcees remarrying
After remarriage, a divorced individual in Georgia can choose her maiden name, go with the surname of the new spouse or maintain names from previous marriages. It's also possible to combine the last name of a previous husband with that of the new one.
General Adult Name Change
Obviously, there are many reasons to change a name in Georgia, such as marriage or a dislike of the name you got after birth. In Georgia, you need to petition the local court for legal name change. Remember name change eligibility is fully governed by the law of the state of Georgia.
Filling out the court petition forms
The first thing you start with is filling a name change petition. In the form you need to indicate the current name, the name you want to adopt, address and birth date, and why you need to change your name.
The form should then be filed with the Superior Court of Georgia in your county. Together, with the form, include a birth certificate copy. Include other documents copies, like your marriage certificate or divorce decree, which can validate the rationale for the name change request. The fees required differ from one county to the next.
Publishing a notice of your name change in the newspaper
Your next stop is publishing the notice of name change petition in the county government administered legal gazette where it has to be published once each week for a month or four weeks. The first notice of name change petition must be published in less than seven days after you have filed an application.
Attend the Superior Court hearing
Take the proof of publishing the notice to the Superior Court clerk in your locality. Ensure you attend the Superior Court's change of name hearing, as indicated, since you will be notified of the hearing date accordingly.
Expect the judge to ask a number of questions to ascertain whether the name change process and reason complies with Georgia state law. Once the name change has been approved by the court you can then go ahead and notify the state and federal authorities, such as the Department of Driver Services in Georgia, Social Security Administration and the IRS.
Child Name Changes
It's important to note that Georgia state law doesn't allow parents to change the name of a child as part or during divorce proceedings. For it to be done, the petition has to be filed in a Superior Court, known as the Change Name of Minor Child where both parents need to give their consent, unless one of the minor's parents abandoned the minor, is deceased or has not been supporting the child for the last five years.
Publishing a notice of the child's name change
After completion of consent, the name change petition notice must be published in a newspaper with a local distribution. In case the parents live in the state of Georgia the wait is only 30 days or 60 days for those who live outside the state.
Preparing for the court hearing
While going to court for the child name change hearing, have all the right legal papers needed with you, from the petition, consent proof, newspaper affidavits indicating the notice was published, as required by law, and the name change final order.
Under oath, the judge will ask you in the chambers a couple of questions, such as the reason for the name change. After approval the judge will have the final order signed. You will get a certified copy of the minor's name change order which you should use to change the name of the child on the birth certificate.
Reverting to a Prior Name
If you forget to change your name during a divorce petition, you can always revert to a prior name. You only need to follow a similar process as that of a minor's name change. It is however important to have all the documents with you before you appear in court, such as proof of publishing the name change notice on a local newspaper, divorce decree, name change final order, among others, as required.
Once the judge is satisfied with the reason for the name change the final order will be signed. Take the certified final order copy and amend your name with all the bureaucrats such as the DSD, SSA and IRS. Remember that in Georgia the name appearing on the driver's license has to be the same as that on the Social Security card. If this is not the cases, the driver's license will be canceled.
Remember, even if you have changed your name to something you wanted but you've had a change of heart you must follow the court process of filing a petition as an adult, paying the required fees by your local county Superior Court, which varies from one county to the next. With the certified copy of the final order giving you the right to change your name, approach all governmental and nongovernmental institutions to change your name. Use the same document to change your name on any identity document, such as a passport.
Change of Name on Birth Certificate
Order your original birth certificate, for reference
After changing your name, chances are that you want that name reflected in various documents of identity, including your birth certificate. To effect a name change on your birth certificate, contact the office of Vital Records in the state where you were born. Once you obtain a birth certificate's certified copy from the Vital Records office, circle every change you intend to make before submitting a request in writing asking for procedures or instructions on how to go ahead with a name change.
Fees and procedures to amend your birth certificate
For the change to be effected you need an extra $10; the request is then sent via mail to the same Vital Records office. Remember procedures or instructions on name change are never given via phone in Georgia. The record must be reviewed first for proper instructions or procedures to be given according to your own certificate.
Name Change on Social Security, DSD, Passport, IRS
Before you can change your name on any other critical document, seek a name change with the Social Security Administration office at your local division or through mail. The process is started by completing a social security card application afresh.
Together with the application form you will need to have the document indicating a change of name legally, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree, and proof of identity, such as a passport or driver's license, United State's proof of citizenship through a citizenship certificate or birth certificate.
Once the name change is complete, the new social security card will be sent to you. Remember, the Social Security number doesn't change irrespective of the number of times you change your name.
Update your driver's license within 60 days
Within two months of effecting your name change legally, update the state provided ID or driver's license by appearing in person at the Department of Driver Services local office. Bring documents showing the legal name change with you. This is also the time to have your address changed and a proof of residence must be brought as well. Remember to update the vehicle's title and registration after you have changed your driver's license name to show the change.
Update your passport
You can also update the passport for free if your passport was issued in the previous year. The Department of State of the U.S. provides all the forms you need to change your passport including the cost of the process.
Apart from notifying the state and federal authorities about the name change such as IRS, SSA and DDS, it is important to effect a name change on all other areas where your old name appears. This includes banks, doctors' offices, and loyalty club memberships.
Simply contact the credit card companies and banks where you might be asked to send a marriage certificate copy or a certified copy of a legal name change document via mail, or visit the local branch of the institution for this. In most cases, the credit card companies, insurance companies, banks and other nongovernmental institutions have a list of the requirements for this change on their websites.
Recognized Documents for a Name Change
- Certified copy of marriage certificate for marriage name change
- Certified copy of divorce decree for divorce name change
- Court order for general adult name change
- Certified copy of your U.S. birth certificate
- Certificate of citizenship
- Certificate of naturalization