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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.

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.

Non-Governmental Institutions

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

26 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Hopkins

    I have been married two times and have kids by my first husband, I plan to marriage again, but don't want to loose my last married name due to property, childs, pass port and ssn income. This is just a few concern. Most of all family Property. How can I keep my name like it is and still get married. He want it changed, after marriage I don't.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How can I keep my name like it is and still get married. He want it changed, after marriage I don't.

      Simply don't change it. You're not required to change your name. If he wants your name change, perhaps you can compromise and use his name informally while keeping your maiden name on legal documents.

      Reply
  2. Wayne

    Should the new last name appear on the marriage license? We asked at the court but we've not receiving very helpful answers – they told us that the actual name change is done at the social security office. Is this true?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Wayne. There should be a spot for a new last name to be specified on the marriage license application.

      Reply
  3. Penny Bailey

    I want to hyphenate my last name. When signing documents can I then use either last name or do I use the hyphenated version only?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to hyphenate my last name. When signing documents can I then use either last name or do I use the hyphenated version only?

      Legal, government, and tax-related documents should be signed using your full legal name.

      Reply
  4. Gwendolen Tucker

    I have been married for 13 years and I changed my name on ssc but kept maiden name on DL. I have been using my maiden name on everything because it was the name on all paperwork I had going. I recently was diagnosed with cancer and am in the process of disability. Social Security still has my last name in marriage but my medical documents and everything else is in my maiden name. After changing my last name years ago, I realized I wanted to keep my maiden and never went back to social security to change it back. What solution can you provide me?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Gwendolen. If you want to update your SS card to reflect your middle name, they'll likely want a supporting document to justify changing it back, such as a court order. That'll get everything back in sync.

      Reply
  5. Rachel Barton Pugh

    When I got married, I changed my name on my drivers license but nothing else. Non of my previous employers had an issue with this. My current employer is requiring I change my name on my social security or be fired. They are telling me it is a law that it must match. I filled all the paperwork out in my married name. I do not want to change my last name. I changed my license in haste before really thinking it over. Is there a law saying both last names have to match on license and SS number. I think it would be easier just to fill my paper work out all over again in my maiden name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rachel. Some DMV's stipulate that they should be alerted to a name change within X number of days, but the penalty for not doing so is often vague, nonexistent, or unenforced. If you have your married name on file with your employer, it won't match what's on file with the IRS. Yes, it would seem easier to fill out your work paperwork in your maiden name.

      Reply
  6. Harper

    My husband and I are residents of Georgia but got married two months ago in Michigan. He is changing his last name to mine, and I’m having trouble finding information on the process for men taking their wives’ last names. As stated on this page, Georgia is one of the few states where men can do this using their marriage certificate, but does this still apply with an out-of-state marriage license? If so, how do we initiate the name change, since in GA it is typically initiated during the application for your marriage license?

    Hope this makes sense. Thank you for your helpful information!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Harper. You'll need to obtain a certified copy of your Michigan marriage certificate and use it as though it was a Georgia certificate.

      Reply
  7. Shaneka Hicks-McCord

    Hi, I got married two years ago and decided to hyphenate my name(in the state of Georgia). I now want to drop my maiden name and only use my husband last name. How do change I change it.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shaneka. At this point, you'll have to petition the court for a general adult name change.

      Reply
  8. Regina Thibideau Morgan

    I've been divorced 6yrs.l Love my maiden name. I decided not to drop my ex's last name.l don't know when or whether to hyphenate my maiden and ex's last name. He's aware of my deision/plan. It doesn't affect or bother him, the least bit! My full signature on the license,is first, maiden and ex's last name. I was born in Ga.l haven't made any changes or contacted the S.S. office,yet. I will contact them. Will l have to go to court? If my plans are successful, should my maiden name be hyphenated? What steps or suggestions,do you have in my situation? Any advice,would be helpful!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Regina. Changing your name due to divorce depends on what name restoration or change was specified in the divorce decree. I assume your preference isn't in the decree, so you'd have to petition the court to change it to what you'd prefer.

      Reply
  9. Kc Richardson

    I live in Paulding county and was told that choosing our own name at the time of our marriage was not an option, but that our only options were either taking each other's names or hyphenation. Are we able to choose a completely new name when we marry?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Are we able to choose a completely new name when we marry?

      No, that is not an option.

      Reply
      1. Kc Richardson

        How would one take advantage of this option?

        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.

        Reply
  10. Deloris

    Not exactly this topic but close. I seriously need help. I applied for widow benefits at social security but can not find a copy of the marriage certificate and have searched many sites including Catoosa County Georgia. We were married before a justice of the peace or county clerk (?) in Ringgold, Georgia1962 but can find no evidence of it. I have searched under both maiden and married last names but I must be doing something wrong. Any suggestions? Thank you.

    Reply
  11. Sean

    My wife just was approved for her green card. When we married in February we didn’t change her name due to her passport & all of the INS based forms we were filing and had already filed. Now that everything is approved, she was asked if she wanted to change her name, which she did. I understand having to change other forms of ID now from temp to permanent but we also need to change her name at the court house on the marriage license for example. Is there a simple way since it’s been under a year? Or is the published process the only way available?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sean. Unless there's a typographical error on the marriage license, you can't amend the name.

      Reply
  12. Daniel Lopez

    Me and my wife was married 14 years ago in Texas. My last name changed but on our Marriage License it has my original last name. Is this marriage license legal, or do we have to get another marriage license and get married again?

    Reply

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