753 Comments

Congratulations on deciding to get married! You are in for… okay, we can't lie. While being married is great and wonderful, the act of getting married can be quite stressful. There is the planning of the ceremony itself, the merging of two households (if you don't already live together) and all of the details involved with that. You also have to take the time to apply for your marriage license and then decide whether or not you are going to keep your name or change it.

If you've made up your mind and would like to hyphenate your name online, you can use our name change application to complete the necessary forms.

This is where a lot of people have trouble. Once upon a time, it was just customary for a Bride to take her Groom's last name as her own and abandon her maiden name completely. The act of keeping her own name was considered taboo and people's eyebrows would raise right off their faces when they found out that the Bride was even considering something so radical. Over time, though, more and more women are deciding to keep their names.

There are a lot of reasons to want to keep your own name. Hopefully you have a supportive Groom who understands why this idea is the most appealing to you. A lot of times, though, the act of keeping your name is still something that causes concern… even if your Groom is fine with it, his family (or your own) might not be so understanding.

There are a couple of ways to compromise on the whole "you wanting to keep your name and your Groom hating the idea" problem. You could choose an entirely new last name for the two of you to share. This way neither of you gets "your" way and you both have to deal with the legalities of going through a name change. Most of the time, though, the most popular compromise is to hyphenate your last name and the last name of your Groom.

For example, if your Groom's name is John Smith and your name is Kate Jones, you would name yourself Kate Jones-Smith or Kate Smith-Jones.

This allows you to keep going by your own last name while legally adopting your husband's surname at the same time.

Why Is Hyphenation a Good Thing?

The compromise is the biggest reason that so many women choose to hyphenate their last names. It is a way of you keeping your own identity while also keeping your future husband happy

It allows you to stay connected to accomplishments that you achieved before you got married. For example, many women who choose to hyphenate do so partially because they have earned higher educational degrees and certifications under their maiden names. They might have also had things published or publicized and want to stay connected to that identity.

It helps you stay obviously connected to your children whose names might not be hyphenated and who have been given your husband's surname.

It can help you bridge the gap between your personal and professional life. Many women who opt to simply keep their own names do so because they don't want to give up all that they have accomplished professionally. Unfortunately this makes it hard for them to claim ownership of these accomplishments personally because they happened under their "other" name.

Nobody wants to think about the negative stuff but, with the divorce statistics being what they are, you might want a contingency plan. Changing your name to his last name and then back to your own if things go south will be a major hassle.

While tradition is one thing, there isn't any logical reason—at least one that isn't rooted in "because that's how it has always been done" to completely change your name. Keeping your name and joining it to your husband's through hyphenation is as legal as simply adopting his name or as simply keeping your own and leaving his out of the picture entirely.

Probably the most important reason to consider hyphenation is your identity. You've spent your whole life building your identity under a certain name. Obviously you will still be you even if you've taken on your husband's last name and omitted yours entirely. At the same time, your name is associated with the identity you've built up and hyphenation allows you to respect that while also respecting tradition and your husband's family's identity at the same time.

Why Might Hyphenation Be a Bad Thing?

Hyphenated names are more difficult for computers to handle. When you type in your personal information, the hyphen often isn't recognized by the computer's code. This means that you have to eliminate the hyphen and that can cause problems later on.

If you care about outside opinions on your name, you should know that a large portion of today's society is annoyed by the hyphenated name. Some people find it "snobby" and others simply find it irritating because they have a hard time remembering which last name they are supposed to say first. Some people even believe that not simply adopting your husband's last name is a huge sign of disrespect and a lack of commitment.

It is possible that your future husband will find this choice offensive. Some men, regardless of how you might feel about such things, are traditionalists and feel that it is simply "right" for the woman to take the man's last name as her own. Whether or not your future husband insisting on your adopting his last name is a red flag to you or not, it is still something that you should take under consideration.

Some people worry that having a hyphenated name—if you do not plan on passing the hyphenation down to your children and are planning on giving them only your husband's surname—can be confusing for a child. Even when the child is given a hyphenated last name, they might be confused when they get older when they start making friends whose names aren't hyphenated.

Interesting Statistics and Hyphenation Stories

Instances of today's generation of women hyphenating their names has gotten significantly smaller since the baby-boomers' generation started making the practice more popular.

The Knot website says that less than 10% of women today hyphenate their names. Some simply choose to have two last names or two middle names when they want to keep their own last names after they get married.

Same-sex couples sometimes have a difficult time trying to hyphenate or change their surnames after they are married. Even when they are married legally, there are some states in which the judges who hear these petitions will deny the peoples' request to have the same last name. In some cases, applicants sometimes fib about the reason they are seeking the name change.

What It All Boils Down To

There are all sorts of reasons to hyphenate your name and not to hyphenate your name. The basis for each of these things, however, is whether or not you are willing to make a compromise when it comes to changing your name (or whether you are willing to compromise on your future spouse adopting your name as their own). The hyphenation is the epitome of a compromise. One spouse wants a complete name change. The other spouse wants no name change. Hyphenating the two names is a way for each person to, at least a little bit, "win" the argument.

Of course this isn't the actual end of the argument. Why would you ever think that anything having to do with getting married would be that easy? Once the decision to hyphenate one person's name is made, you have to decide whether both of you are going to hyphenate your surname.

After all, why should the bride be the only one to go through the name change process? Equal partners and opportunities and all that, right?

Many men, when they acquiesce to a bride's compromise on hyphenating her surname are happy to do the hyphenation as well. There are always going to be a few exceptions to the rule but we're willing to bet that most men will say "okay, if you will, I will too." From here, then, you need to decide which name is going to come first in the hyphenation.

The decisions and compromises just don't ever end, do they?

And don't forget the legal stuff! Making the decision is just part of the process. From there you are going to have to legally change your name all over the place. You'll need to change your name at the bank, with social security, with your credit cards, on your driver's license, at the gym… everywhere. It's easy to get overwhelmed just thinking about it.

The good news here, however, is that there are tools you can use to help you make the process a little bit less scary and intricate.

What matters of course, is that the two of you are going to be happily married—hopefully for the rest of your lives. At the end of the day, whether you each keep your names, whether you come up with an entirely new name for the two of you to share or whether you hyphenate your current surnames, what matters is that you love each other and are going to be joining your lives together. Try to remember that as you are staring at the application for your marriage license and filling out the portion that reads "name after you get married" (or whatever the legalese for that might be).

That's what matters most of all, right?

753 Comments

  1. Kayla Olson

    I live in Montana and I got married on the 5th of this month, to a fellow service member. I have built a reputation under my maiden name within the military and even though when we got married I signed my name first, middle, husband's last name, can I now hyphenate it? Or just add my husband's last name to my name without a hyphen? And do I need to go to court to file for a name change to do it? My son and I had the same last name and I fought so hard for him to have it and now he is feeling like I left the team. I told him I would look into changing it, but I still want my husband's last name as well. If I hyphenate it, I could wear either one on my uniform, since Matanane Olson won't fit on one name tape. Some people were happy I changed it because Olson is easier to say than Matanane. But I am concerned for my son's feelings and also there is a lot of family pride with my maiden name not to mention my professional reputation attached to it that I would like to hang onto somehow. I just don't know what my options are….

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kayla. I don't believe the space option is possible without a court order. Hyphenation is possible without a court order. Have you considered replacing your middle name with your maiden name?

      Reply
  2. Sally

    We are having trouble working out what way sounds better Pearce-Benning or Benning-Pearce!!! Help!!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sally. There's no right or wrong, although Pearce-Benning does seem to roll off the tongue easier.

      Reply
  3. Beth Cyr

    I got married recently in GA (and live in GA). I want to hyphenate my last name to Cyr-Kroh. I did so with the SSA with no problem. I went to get my drivers license changed and they wouldn't hyphenate it so now my license says Cyr Kroh. At the dmv they said the marriage certificate had to have it exactly how it would go on my license. I was concerned about this and had previously gone to the probate court and asked them if I needed to get a marriage certificate with the new hyphenated last name and they said no. it was fine how it was. So now I'm really confused. Most other name change things use your license for verification… does the hyphen matter? Can I just hyphenate it anyway even if it isn't that way on my license? Should I go back to the SSA and redo it so it doesn't have a hyphen? To add to the mix – I'm planning on moving to another state in a few months and am concerned about what might happen when I get a new license.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I was concerned about this and had previously gone to the probate court and asked them if I needed to get a marriage certificate with the new hyphenated last name and they said no. it was fine how it was.

      But it's not fine from the DDS' perspective. Have you inquired about getting your certificate amended, as unlikely as that may be?

      Can I just hyphenate it anyway even if it isn't that way on my license?

      It depends on the institution. Some may accept it, some may not.

      Should I go back to the SSA and redo it so it doesn't have a hyphen?

      It's doubtful they'll process another name change using your same marriage certificate.

      To add to the mix – I'm planning on moving to another state in a few months and am concerned about what might happen when I get a new license.

      A new license from Georgia or the other state? The other state will be governed by their state's regulations and not Georgia's.

      Reply
  4. Tiffany F

    Hi, I am currently filling out my marriage license and have a few questions. 1) when I hyphenate my name can I keep my maiden name as is on my SS card and all other documents that require my SS number? 2) If I change my name on my SS card as my hyphen name do I have to change it at the DMV, taxes and etc…? 3) If I get married now, but wait a few years to change my name on my SS card as my hyphenate name, because I want to have a child and my family all have the same name can I do so? 4) When you get a marriage certificate does the husband and wife each get there own or do they only issue one?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      1) when I hyphenate my name can I keep my maiden name as is on my SS card and all other documents that require my SS number?

      Yes.

      2) If I change my name on my SS card as my hyphen name do I have to change it at the DMV, taxes and etc…?

      Some states have laws that say you must notify the DMV of a name change within X time frame, but they're typically toothless. You'll eventually have to update your name with the DMV when it comes time to renew. So, it's a now or later proposition.

      When you change your name with the SSA, the IRS is notified. Feel free to read more about IRS and name change.

      3) If I get married now, but wait a few years to change my name on my SS card as my hyphenate name, because I want to have a child and my family all have the same name can I do so?

      Yes, you can wait.

      4) When you get a marriage certificate does the husband and wife each get there own or do they only issue one?

      One, although you can order multiple copies.

      Reply
  5. Jane

    When I was married 39 years ago in Mississippi, I dropped my first name given at birth so that my name became *middle,maiden,married*. This was done without any special hearing or court proceeding.. It was done simply by request when we applied for our license and is reflected on all legal and professional documents in this way. My husband has since died and I am remarrying in California in a just few months. We live in Alabama. I intended to keep all of my names with the exception of the first birth name that I dropped previously (I.e middle, maiden, 1st married, new married), but in reading the string, I am now concerned that the dropping of my first name might not have been legal. Could you please explain this further?
    If I find that it is legal, and I go forward with all four names, what are the designations of them? Which is considered first, middle and last? Am I asking for trouble while my reasons are just sentimental. I am not under pressure in my decisions. Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I intended to keep all of my names with the exception of the first birth name that I dropped previously (I.e middle, maiden, 1st married, new married)

      Dropping your first name requires a court order.

      I am now concerned that the dropping of my first name might not have been legal. Could you please explain this further?

      Name change laws 39 years ago were not as well defined as they are today. If you were able to change it with all valid government agencies back then, then that's your legal name. You wouldn't be able to effect such a change so easily today though.

      Reply
  6. Desirae Bender-Jones

    I was married in 2008 and kept my name as I was involved in high profile law suit at time. We planned on me taking husband's name after trial. Now what is the simplest way for me to just hyphenate name and use both names.

    Reply
    1. Desirae Bender Jones

      Valera, I might add that we were married in Oklahoma and I sign most all documents and checks Bender Jones even though our marriage certificate says
      Desirae Bender can I just use certificate to showing we are married and I have chosen to use Bender Jones as my last name.

      Reply
      1. Valera

        Hi Desirae. You could hyphenate, but using a space may not be possible without a court order.

        Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Desirae. Use a certified copy of your marriage certificate to complete a name change.

      Reply
  7. Erica

    I am getting married but have a child from a previous relationship ( not married). I want to drop my maiden name (let's say "Doe") and take my husbands (Smith) and my childs last name (james) instead. So the finial product would be Jane James-Smith. Is that possible to do without going through 2 seperate name changes?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Erica. No, since "James" was not a previously held surname, you would have to get a court order to hyphenate.

      Reply
  8. Brenda

    I am in Michigan
    I want to keep my maiden name and take my new husbands. What is the difference using and hypen and not using one and Madien first or last?
    (First, Middle, Maiden New) or (First, Middle, Maiden-New) Or (First, Middle, New-Maiden)

    Thank You

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Brenda. Although sequence doesn't matter, you may face resistance from the SOS office about using a space instead of a hyphen.

      Reply
      1. Brenda

        Thank you
        What is the order of alphabetizing?

        Maiden-New
        New-Maiden

        Reply
  9. Heritage O. Miller

    Hi,

    I am Heritage O. Miller. I and my fiancee have agreed she would adopt my first and last as her new last name(which would be hyphenated anyway)…so she will now be called Mrs. Bethle' Praise Heritage-Miller……while our children will also use the last; Heritage-Miller together with their given first and second names. Will these potend future problems to her or the children in their travelling documents or passport?

    Regards.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will these potend future problems to her or the children in their travelling documents or passport?

      No, I don't see why it would cause a problem.

      Reply
      1. Heritage O. Miller

        Thanks alot for your insight and counsel. Regards

        Reply
  10. Barb

    Hello,

    I'm a California resident and just got married last month. This is my second marriage and I kept my married name from my previous marriage for the sake of the kids. My kids are adults now, but my son was very sensitive about me changing my last name, and then my now husband was sensitive about me not taking on his last name (a bit old fashioned). So I thought I'd compromise and hyphenate my last name (and by the way, I don't have a middle name either), but now I'm on the fence about hyphenating my last name as I understand it could be a bit of a pain. The marriage license does have my last name hyphenated (i.e., Smith-Koors) and I know I need to go to SS, DMV, change the passport, etc. and make all the legal name changes at some point.

    My question is if on the marriage license my last name is hyphenated, do I need to continue hyphenating my name on everything else (SS, DMV, passport, legal docs, etc.)? Or can I not hyphenate it where I can keep my personal bank account and credit cards as is (i.e., B. Smith) and then use my married name as needed (i.e, B. Koors or full name B. Smith Koors when needed )? I'm trying to figure out if I need to hyphenate my last name or not, and if not, how I can use it.

    Thanks!

    Barb

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My question is if on the marriage license my last name is hyphenated, do I need to continue hyphenating my name on everything else (SS, DMV, passport, legal docs, etc.)?

      Name change on the license is non-binding. You don't have to change your name on any document if you don't want to.

      Or can I not hyphenate it where I can keep my personal bank account and credit cards as is (i.e., B. Smith) and then use my married name as needed (i.e, B. Koors or full name B. Smith Koors when needed )?

      If you don't hyphenate, you'd have to use your prior last name in all formal situtations.

      I'm trying to figure out if I need to hyphenate my last name or not, and if not, how I can use it.

      If you don't a legal name name change, then you could only use your hyphenated name informally. When you do your taxes, fill out a government form, etc, you'll have to use your legal, non-hyphenated name.

      Reply
  11. Kayla

    So, while this was a good read, I do have a question of sorts. My last name is my mothers maiden name. Even though she married my father after I was born, my last name was never changed. When they divorced, my father was awarded custody of me, and all through my school years I went as an Ericksen. Until I found out that my last name, legally, was Maloney when I was 18. I absolutely hate my mothers last name. She had no part of my growing up, and it's a memory I'd rather forget. I'm due to get married in December of 2019. I want to hyphenate my name, because I want to incorporate my fathers name, my heritage of Ericksen into my family. Can this be done? Or do I need to legally change my name to Ericksen before I can consider using it to hyphenate with. Everything from my school years (Diplomas', awards, etc) are in Ericksen but that was before I was an adult.

    Reply
  12. Mary

    I'm a New York resident. On my marriage license I said that I would take my future husband's name. I don't want to change my ss card, drivers license, passport bank accounts or work info. Can I just continue to use my maiden name? Is this legal?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I just continue to use my maiden name? Is this legal?

      Yes, to both questions.

      Reply
  13. Allyson

    I recently got married in California. I still haven't decided if I want to change my name and if so, what to change it to, so am frustrated that I had to make a choice on the license up front. Anyway, I would really like to keep my middle name and liked the way it sounded to have my married name first, so put First Middle Married Maiden on the marriage license. Now I am reconsidering to do the standard way of First Middle Maiden Married, but am dreading the court name change process. So, I guess the question is, is this at all common or mostly women go the standard way of Maiden first?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Allyson. It's typically maiden first, but there's no reason for you to stick with that if you'd prefer it to go last.

      Reply
  14. Tiffany

    Hi,

    I recently got married and I hyphenate my name. I want to change my name on my SS card to just my husbands last name. Can I just change my name to his last name or do I have to use the whole hyphenate name?

    Thanks,
    Tiffany

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tiffany. If your marriage certificate shows your hyphenated name, that's typically what you'll have to change it to. You may experience flexibility with the SSA, but the DMV may be a different story.

      Reply
  15. Shauntelle Fisher

    I will be getting married soon for the first time. My son has my maiden name. My daughter has my fiancé's. I have a two business LLC's all documented in my maiden name. I would like to take my fiance's name but t fear the legal document nightmare. We are both ok with me keeping my maiden name. I would really like to use my married name for my daughter but would also like to keep my maiden for my son. Oh, and did I mention that my middle name is the one I use daily?!? Help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Shauntelle. You could just use your married name informally (in social situations) and continue using your maiden name for all professional and tax-related purposes.

      Reply
  16. kris

    hi, i was planning to keep my middle name and hypen my maiden name to his. my question is..what would be the middle name of my children soon? my current middle name or may maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      what would be the middle name of my children soon? my current middle name or may maiden name?

      You can choose anything for your child's middle name.

      Reply
  17. Luz Divina

    I got married last October and have been trying to get my name change done since (1 year now). I had done married-maiden, I got my social security card changed thus but when I went to get my state ID they said no. Is there anything I can do? Or will I just have to get my social card redone again?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Luz. Was an explanation given for your request being denied? Changing your name with the SSA again could entail obtaining a court order.

      Reply
  18. DSA

    Hi! Your replies are so helpful.
    I got married 2 months ago in NY and still reside in NY. In my marriage certificate I chose to take my husband's last name. I haven't gone forth with the legal name change with SS or dmv. I'd now like to have his last name as a hyphen when I change it legally, not as my only last name: so Firstname Maiden-His. Do I need a court order to add the hyphen? Or can I simply show my marriage certificate that already has his last name and hyphen it at the SS and dmv?
    Thanks so much!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi DSA. Unless you can get your certificate amended (which is reserved for mistakes), you'll likely need a court order.

      Reply
  19. FAITH

    I am getting married in January and want to put my husband's last name before my maiden name, so essentially two last names but not hyphenated!!! So for a fake example Sarah (first), Plain (middle name), And (husband's last name, Tall (my maiden name).
    Sarah Plain And Tall

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Faith. Space-separated names aren't particularly well supported for marriage-based name changes. That's the main problem with such a choice.

      Reply
  20. Julie

    Hello,
    I just got married in September and am thinking I'd like to keep my last name and add his, with no hyphen. I saw a response from Valera saying that "space-separated names aren't particularly well supported for marriage-based name changes." What does that mean exactly?
    I had also been considering having 2 middle names (my original middle name, space, my maiden name), but then it occurred to me that I might need to change my birth certificate. Would that be the case, if I changed my middle name?
    Thank you so much for your help…

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What does that mean exactly?

      It means there's a high probability such a name change wouldn't be accepted by the SSA and DMV.

      I had also been considering having 2 middle names (my original middle name, space, my maiden name), but then it occurred to me that I might need to change my birth certificate. Would that be the case, if I changed my middle name?

      If you were able to implement such a name change you wouldn't have to update your birth certificate to match.

      Reply
  21. Kay

    I have applied for my marriage license 4 days ago, I had only take my fiance surname but now I want to hype my surname to his, the wedding is in two weeks, can I just go back and change it , will there be additional cost? I'm from Minnesota.

    Thanks much ….

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kay. You can return to the office where you obtained your marriage license and have them void your old license and reissue you another with your preferred name. You may have to repay the license fee, which in Minnesota is quite steep. It's one of the most expensive states in the nation for a marriage license.

      Reply
  22. Senait

    Hi. I am married with children and never formally changed my name but sometimes use the hyphenated version of my maiden-married name. I’m purchasing family address labels and have this question. My hyphenated name is long can I abbreviate my maiden name and use my full last name. So if my name is Sunny Johnson-Rhodes can I purchase the stamp in this format…
    “The J.-Rhodes Family”

    Reply
  23. Coleen

    If I hyphenate my maiden and married name, will I have to change everything or could I keep just my maiden name on everything?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Coleen. If you're just hyphenating your name on your marriage license/certificate, then it wouldn't actually change anything until you go through the steps of contacting various government entities about your new name change.

      Reply
  24. VJ

    I got married last year, december. Almost of my records have my hyphenated surname but when I tried using it on TIN, the computer won't allow such, what my HR did is connect my surname and husband's without space. Do you think it will affect my records in the future?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi VJ. The computer should have accepted it as the hyphen is an acceptable character for a TIN's name control.

      Reply
  25. Jess

    Hi so for mine I have my last name and and husband. My question is do when I sign for anyrhing do I put both last names or can I just sign my first and his last name

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jess. Sign the full surname on legal and government documents, and use your best judgment for more informal situations. If you suspect the name you provide to be queried against a government database, use your full legal name.

      Reply
  26. Lourdes Jihan Credo-Magno

    Since I hyphenated my last name should I leave blank the space in filling out forms that say "Middle Initial"?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lourdes. Your middle initial is the first letter of your middle name. It doesn't have anything to do with your hyphenated surname.

      Reply
  27. Velisha Anderson- Pratt

    Hello, I got married and my last name is hyphened because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of changing my name on all my documents (passport, DL, SS, etc.) I would like to know if when I’m filling out forms can I choose to use either last name if I don’t feel like using both (maiden and surname) ? For example; my husband is adding me to his health insurance, can I just use my first name and his last name without adding my maiden name even though it is hyphened? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Velisha. You'll have to use your full legal name. You can only pick and choose in informal situations.

      Reply
  28. Rachel Winchester

    Hi Valera,

    So, is it more common these days to have two last names instead of the hyphen? What percentage of women have two last names? My married name will be either:
    Rachel Winchester-Einertson
    or
    Rachel Winchester Einertson
    I am wondering what version most women do today who do not change to just the husband’s last name. I read the article, and I know about the computer difficulty with hyphen. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rachel. Space-separated last names are less prominent than hyphenated names because not all states easily allow a change of the prior—using a certified copy of a marriage certificate—the way they all do for the latter.

      Reply
  29. S M Reardon-Geisinger

    I got married in 2009, changed my name in 2010- just on my social security card and at work… my first name, middle maiden-husband's name. This is causing lots of trouble ( recently anxiety) and I am fed up with it. My "full name" doesn't fit on my bank card so it has first name and married name, insurance has me as the same. The decision to hyphenate was to follow my father's wishes, dumb thing to do. How do I go about dropping my maiden name? How much would it coast? I live in Pa.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How do I go about dropping my maiden name? How much would it coast? I live in Pa.

      You'd submit a name change petition in your county's Court of Common Pleas. It'll cost approximately $100 to $300.

      Reply
  30. Con

    Hi: My current last name is hyphenated but it's long and people tend to have so much trouble pronouncing not only my maiden name but especially my married name (husband's last name). So now I'm considering changing it to where it will be my first name, initial (only of my maiden name) and married name. So it will be: Cxxxie D. Lxxxxxxx. My current SS card, DL, and passport all have the hyphenated name, do I need to apply for new ones? I don't need to go to court, do I? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      do I need to apply for new ones? I don't need to go to court, do I?

      Yes, you would have to apply for new ones. And, yes, you would have to go to court first.

      Reply
  31. Queenet

    Hi my name is queenet, I married since two years ago my husband is in my country I'm in Maryland and I'm pregnant how can I change to my husband name because I want my husband name to appear as my last name in my child birth certificate and also my husband name to appear in away child name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Queenet. You'd use a certified copy of your marriage certificate to fulfill a name change.

      Reply
  32. Sylvia Elizabeth Jacquez

    So I'll be getting married next year and I'm the lady sibling with my father's name. My partner is the lady daughter with her father's last name. We're both considering keeping our last names but i see in this aerial we can hyphenate with her last name then mine for myself. What all needs to be done. Getting married in Vegas but reside inn NM.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sylvia. You'll just need to use a certified copy of your marriage certificate to hyphenate.

      Reply
  33. Adriana

    Thank you for blessing us with your time and pertinent information. My story is as follows:

    My name based on my Mexican birth certificate: First Name Father's Last Name Mother's Maiden Name (no hyphenation).

    Name on other forms of legal documents (i.e., SSN, DL in CA): First Name Hyphenated Father's Last Name-Mother's Maiden Name (last name was hyphenated when I got my first passport because I had two separate last names as is typical in the Hispanic culture/tradition, where father's last name comes first and then mother's maiden name).

    Now that I'm getting married in less than a week, I decided to keep every part of my birth name and add my fiance's last name. This is how it's on my marriage license as of now: First Name Mother's Maiden Name Hyphenated Father's Last Name-Fiance's Last Name (my Full Last Name begins with Mother's Maiden Name: S… M……..-H…). My question is, can I sign with my First Name and Fiance's Last Name only on all documents? If so, when I am filling out information online, can I also put down First Name and Fiance's Last Name or if not, what will I need to put down? If I need to sign otherwise, what will that be?

    Thank you in advance for your help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Adriana. You would enter or sign your full last name on all legal or government documents. Anything with a legal context should use your full surname. Sign how you prefer in non-legal/government contexts.

      Reply
  34. Victoria Clark Trower

    My 1st husband passed away years ago, I got remarried but have 2 young children from late husband. My son's biggest worry about me getting remarried is that I would have a different last name than them. I don't want to hurt my son but would also like to honor my husband and our marriage by taking his last name. Any ideas on what you think would be best.

    Thank you
    Victoria J Clark Trower

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Victoria. You can consider hyphenating. Depending on the state, you may be able to take your late husband's last name as your middle name or current's husband's surname as a middle. You can also choose to take your current's husbands name informally, while keeping your official identity documents in your late husband's name.

      Reply
  35. Cathy Spires

    I just read all of this information for a good 45 minutes. I have no questions but a great big thank you for all of your useful information.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I have no questions but a great big thank you for all of your useful information.

      Thanks for visiting.

      Reply
  36. Chelsea

    When my husband and I got married over 5 years ago I hyphenated my name, kept my maiden and added his last name, now I would like to drop my maiden name and just have his last name. Would I just go back to the social security office to do that or do I have to petition for a name change now? I live in Arizona, would you happen to know what I would need to do? Thank you!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      now I would like to drop my maiden name and just have his last name. Would I just go back to the social security office to do that or do I have to petition for a name change now?

      You'd have to petition for a name change. You can review the Arizona name change page for how to go about it.

      Reply
  37. Lara

    I was born and married overseas and got the US citizenship. Our child was born in the same country and got a certificate of citizenship. Our last name on marriage certificate and our child's birth certificate (issued by foreign country) is hyphenated but on our certificate of naturalization / certificate of citizenship is not hyphenated.

    USCIS told us that they are using old programs and do not support the hyphen. All our other documents(driving license, US passport, social security card) were issued with non-hyphenated last name.(ex. instead of Smith-Armstrong shows Smith Armstrong). We had no problems so far but I'm worry about my child (minor child) in the future because the hyphen is missing and looks like we have 2 last name.

    What should I do and where can be an issue in his future? To change the name I do not want because the certificates of naturalization are very expensive. This problem is stressing me so much.
    Thank you in advance and much appreciated!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lara. Your child does have a birth certificate with the hyphenated name, which is a significant document. It can be used to verify identity as long as it's the original copy or a certified copy.

      Reply
      1. Lara

        Hi Valera, thank you for the answer. I have few more questions:
        Is the hyphen considered a legitimate part of the name?
        I'm assuming that if all our documents were issued without hyphenated name it should be okay.
        Thank you!

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Is the hyphen considered a legitimate part of the name?

          Yes, it's considered a genuine part of your name, as any other alphabetic character.

          Reply
  38. Fallon

    I recently applied for a SSC. I got the receipt stating my SSC will be in the mail. (Besides the point) On the receipt it has my first name, middle name, Maiden name, then married name. No dash or "hyphen".

    IE: First Middle Maiden Married

    Do you know if this receipt reflects how my name will be on my SSC? If so how do I go about changing doc's to reflect my new last name even though there is no hyphen.
    Because there might not be a hyphen, what name do I use legally? Can I use either last name or still use both?
    IE: First Maiden or First Married
    My signature is totally illegible anyway, but do I need to change that?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I got the receipt stating my SSC will be in the mail. (Besides the point) On the receipt it has my first name, middle name, Maiden name, then married name. No dash or "hyphen".

      If you specified a hyphen, the actual card should contain the hyphen. If not, you can contact them for a correction.

      If so how do I go about changing doc's to reflect my new last name even though there is no hyphen.

      You'd use your marriage certificate, not your SS card.

      Because there might not be a hyphen, what name do I use legally?

      The name on your SS record, but if it's in error, you can seek a correction.

      Can I use either last name or still use both?

      Both should be used in legal contexts. In other contexts, you can choose to use it as you wish.

      Reply
  39. David S.

    The idiots at the DMV hyphenated my wife's name backwards. Jones-Smith instead of Smith-Jones. She tried in vain to get them to change it back, but they were too dense to figure out how to do that. It was many years ago and this mistake has propagated through many other documents in our lives. Occasionally, we are asked to prove that we're married. I suspect in part that's because I'm white and she is black. I'm scared to death that one day she'll be in an emergency room and I'll be challenged to "prove that you're married before treatment can be authorized".

    Reply
  40. Rose

    I want to hyphenate my maiden name with my husband's last name but an SSA rep told me over the phone that they do not print hyphens on social security cards because it is not "supported by the system" and instead the hyphen is replaced with a space. It is really important for me (for professional reasons) to have one last name, with my maiden name first. What should I do in order to successfully hyphenate my last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rose. A hyphen not being printed on your card doens't mean your hyphenated name isn't stored internally in its hyphenated form.

      Reply
  41. Jenny

    Hi there,
    I am getting married in September and was wondering about what to put on the marriage license/certificate. I live in New Mexico. Particularly like my fiancé’s last name and I am unbelievably connected to my maiden name. However, I would like for us to be connected in our names and for our children to be connected as well. Do you know if New Mexico supports two last names that are spaced instead of hyphenated? Currently my name is Jennifer Jean Rex. His last name is McNair. So I was thinking to change it to Jennifer Jean Rex McNair. I’d prefer to pass the two last names down to our children not Hyphenated. Is this possible or do I have to hyphenate them?

    Reply
  42. April

    Hello, I live in TN and will be getting married soon. My fiance wants me to take his last name or at least hyphenate our names. However, due to professional achievements, licenses, etc. I would like to keep my current last name from a prior marriage.

    If I hyphenate my last-his last, will I still be able to be recognized by my current last name or will I have to change all professional licenses to the hyphenated form? Or, is it possible to have the hyphenated name on the marriage certificate only and continue to use my current last name on all legal documents, licenses, etc?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If I hyphenate my last-his last, will I still be able to be recognized by my current last name or will I have to change all professional licenses to the hyphenated form?

      Depending on your industry, you may have to update your licenses, or at least notify the necessary boards (or equivalent) of your name change.

      Or, is it possible to have the hyphenated name on the marriage certificate only and continue to use my current last name on all legal documents, licenses, etc?

      That's an option. To use the hyphenated name informally while not actually changing it on any official document.

      Reply
  43. Marjorie

    Hi, I live in Florida and I have been married for 10 years using my maiden name.
    I now want to hyphenate my maiden and my husband's last name, do I need a court order in order to do so?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I now want to hyphenate my maiden and my husband's last name, do I need a court order in order to do so?

      No, just a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  44. Marie

    Hello, I live in Mississippi. When I married 35 years ago, I moved my maiden name to my middle name and took his name. (ie Margaret Marie Smith became Marie Smith Brown). We had two children together (last name is Brown). He passed away a couple of years ago and now I am about to remarry. There will be no additional children.

    I am planning to drop my just drop my maiden name and move my current last name to that spot and add his last name as mine. (Marie Brown Jones). (For professional reasons PLUS his ex-wife's name is MARY JONES. I am concerned that Marie Jones and Mary Jones will become confused (for bills, police records, medical records etc) and personal information could become merged by people just assuming that the name is misspelled).

    I want to keep using both last names so I am trying to decide whether to hyphenate or not.

    If I put my hyphenated name on the marriage license/certificate does that mean that HE ALSO has to use the hyphenated name?

    If I do not hyphenate but use the new last name with my current last name as my middle name, will I be okay using my same Drivers license, Passport, Social Security etc?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am concerned that Marie Jones and Mary Jones will become confused (for bills, police records, medical records etc) and personal information could become merged by people just assuming that the name is misspelled).

      It's possible. Good observation.

      If I put my hyphenated name on the marriage license/certificate does that mean that HE ALSO has to use the hyphenated name?

      Mississippi marriage license applications, licenses, and certificates don't provide spaces to specify a new last name, so it's irrelevant.

      If I do not hyphenate but use the new last name with my current last name as my middle name, will I be okay using my same Drivers license, Passport, Social Security etc?

      If you don't change any of those documents, then your name hasn't actually changed. You'll still be Marie Smith Brown after your upcoming marriage.

      Reply
  45. shelly ferrell

    I live in New York state and I got married back in 2015 and hyphenated my name but never changed it because I have always used the name on my social security card and all my legal documents for courts and school stuff. I guess my question here is can I get into trouble for that? I have been told that just because I hyphenate it doesn't mean I had to change it or use my name and my partners name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I guess my question here is can I get into trouble for that?

      I take it the hyphenation only appears on your marriage certificate. No, you cannot get into trouble for not formally hyphenating your name across credentials to match your certificate.

      I have been told that just because I hyphenate it doesn't mean I had to change it or use my name and my partners name.

      You were told correctly.

      Reply
  46. Dana

    I got married and want to keep my old last name and add my new one without a hyphen, while keeping my first and middle name. No issue at SSA…my card reads first middle last1 then space then last2. The issue is I went to the Michigan DMV and had a huge issue. They say their computers will not allow 4 names and when she tried to enter my 2 last names without a hyphen the system added a hyphen. What can I do? Now I have a Mia-match. Help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Dana. There's not much you can do in this situation. It's a limitation of their system.

      Reply
  47. Curious NYC

    Hello I have a few questions so my first is if you got married and you put on the marriage license his current address and your current address that's on the nys license is that a problem? or were you supposed to put the address u want to live together? Another question is the surname I put his last name but never hyphenated it and I never change it on ss Ids or job tax etc. so does that mean I can't collect ss from him if God forbid in the future he passes or I pass away? Lastly can ifI want to change the surname and get it hyphenated would that be a problem in th state of NYC?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      if you got married and you put on the marriage license his current address and your current address that's on the nys license is that a problem?

      Your current address is proper.

      or were you supposed to put the address u want to live together?

      Current residence.

      Another question is the surname I put his last name but never hyphenated it and I never change it on ss Ids or job tax etc. so does that mean I can't collect ss from him if God forbid in the future he passes or I pass away?

      It makes no difference one way or the other.

      Lastly can ifI want to change the surname and get it hyphenated would that be a problem in th state of NYC?

      If that's what's specified on your license and certificate, it wouldn't be a problem.

      Reply
  48. Rachel Wagner

    I live in Utah. I was married 3 weeks ago. I want my name to be "First, Middle, Maiden, His last" with no hyphen. I can't find anywhere if Utah will allow me to have a double barrelled surname. Do you happen to know?

    Thank you for your time!

    Reply
  49. Kris

    If I hyphenate my last name and my husband's name , must he also do same and must my children have hyphenated last name

    Reply
  50. Kim

    Hi,
    I am divorced (after 27 years and 5 children) and haven't taken back my maiden name. I am getting married next year and want to continue using my current name from my first marriage (it's the same as my children) but still establish a connection with my soon to be husbands family name. If I check the box on the form that says I will take my new husbands name do I have to change all my documents (DMV/SSN/ Passport) or can I continue using my current name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If I check the box on the form that says I will take my new husbands name do I have to change all my documents (DMV/SSN/ Passport) or can I continue using my current name?

      No, you don't have to commit to any change. You can keep on using your prior husband's name.

      Reply
  51. Janet

    Hi,
    I will be getting married in California (currently living in Colorado) and feel strongly attached to my maiden last name. However, I am thinking about adding my fiance's last name to mine in a hyphenated form. I currently have a hyphenated last name due to father and mothers last name, so my name is, for example, Janet Smith-Jones. My fiance's last name is Ramirez. Can I change my name to Janet Smith-Ramirez only on my marriage certificate without having to change it across all government entities (SSA, DMV etc). I don't want to deal with the hassle of having to change it legally. Will I still be able to use my birth/maiden documents without getting new ones?

    Also, since I don't want to change it legally and only have it appear on my marriage certificate, can I still continue to use my birth/maiden name (Janet Smith-Jones) without any repercussion? For example, when filling taxes as married filling jointly or for jobs etc.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I change my name to Janet Smith-Ramirez only on my marriage certificate without having to change it across all government entities (SSA, DMV etc).

      Yes.

      Will I still be able to use my birth/maiden documents without getting new ones?

      Yes.

      can I still continue to use my birth/maiden name (Janet Smith-Jones) without any repercussion?

      Yes.

      Reply
  52. Illiana Velasquez

    Hi, I’m getting married soon and want to hyphenate my last name because I have a daughter from a previous relationship with my maiden name as her last name. I want to do Maiden-Married legally, but just go by Mrs. Married. Is that possible? Or would I have to use the full hyphenated name? Or is it easier if I move it to the middle as 2 middle names? I don’t want to drop my name at all.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to do Maiden-Married legally, but just go by Mrs. Married. Is that possible?

      You can go by Maiden-Married formally and Mrs. Married informally and in social settings.

      Or would I have to use the full hyphenated name?

      Just in official or legal situations.

      Or is it easier if I move it to the middle as 2 middle names?

      Two middle names isn't well supported as a form of name change through marriage.

      Reply
  53. Teresa

    Hi. Im in SC and I want to hyphenate my name with my husband's but on my license they only put my married name and my SS still has my maiden name what steps would I need to take to correct my license? Would I need to go through family court or is there a different Option? And if I use the hyphen would I need to change my SS or could I just leave it in my maiden name?

    Thanks in advance,

    Reply
    1. Valera

      what steps would I need to take to correct my license?

      You'll have to contact the probate court where you got your license to seek a correction.

      And if I use the hyphen would I need to change my SS or could I just leave it in my maiden name?

      You can leave it in your maiden name.

      Reply
  54. Grace

    Hello,
    How do you write a hyphenated last name when filling a form like social security.
    Myers is my surname and Jones is my husband's name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How do you write a hyphenated last name when filling a form like social security.

      You'd use a dash. Are you having trouble with a particular form that's not allowing it?

      Reply
  55. Jessica

    My fiancé and I are getting married in April. Currently waiting on a call back from social security regarding this question. My issue is I have a ton of certifications in my maiden name; therefore, if I hyphenate my last name with my maiden and married name (Holcombe-Matthews) can I use either or last name on legal documents. Ex. all my certifications and prior credit cards, bank account is in my maiden name, so if I get on the marriage certificate the hyphenated name and go and switch my social security card to the hyphenated name can I keep all my other certifications as my maiden name and it will still be valid?
    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      can I use either or last name on legal documents.

      Your legal name should go on legal documents.

      can I keep all my other certifications as my maiden name and it will still be valid?

      That depends on the regulations of your state and entities which govern your licenses. You'll have to contact them to determine if they mandate reissuing licenses or if they just require internal notification without reissuance.

      You can inquire if the use of an alias is acceptable and how to register it.

      Reply
  56. Robin

    I am legally married 25 years but separated. Will divorce one day. I’m seeking to add my maiden name to my married name, so it’s hyphenated. I’d like to use it. What steps are needed to do so?

    Reply
  57. Tam

    My fiancé’s last name is hyphenated. I am not sure if I would have to take both of his last names or just the last one.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am not sure if I would have to take both of his last names or just the last one.

      You may or may not. It depends on the state. Would you care to share your state of residency?

      Reply
  58. William

    Back when I got married in Florida I took my wife's last name. But the court wouldn't let me do it the traditional way. I had to actually file for a regular name change separate from the marriage application. Then once my name change was finalized I was able to get married. So for a while I had my wife's last name while still technically single. Of course this was back in the nineties so I don't know if things have changed any since then. It's just that at the time I thought it was silly that my wife could change hers as part of the marriage arrangements and I had to do mine separately before we even got married.

    Reply
    1. William

      We were very young kids when we got married. I took her name and loved it because I never liked my own name. We've been divorced now since 2008 and I've kept her name all this time because I still love it and we are still close. But as I've gotten older I started feeling bad about losing the family name. So lately I've been thinking of hyphenating to two names together. If I do this, can I continue to use just the one name legally on my driver's license, passport and bank account? In other words after I hyphenate can I just keep everything the way they are and still be legal?

      Reply
      1. Valera

        In other words after I hyphenate can I just keep everything the way they are and still be legal?

        If you're talking about getting a court-ordered name change, it's nonbinding. You can petition the court and not follow through. In that case, your name wouldn't change.

        Reply
  59. Bea

    Hi. I got married in 2016 in Hawaii to my husband. His name is hyphenated with his mother’s and fathers last names. He wanted to drop one of his last names but there wasn’t enough time between the decision and getting married.

    So I originally was going to change my name to just one of his last names (the one he was gonna keep) and he would just change it after the wedding so we would have the same last name. However, I got freaked out last minute and after we already had the marriage certificate done, we called the officiant and he changed my declared surname to my maiden name, so I did not change my name.

    Now, 3 years later we are gonna have a baby and he wants to change his name like we originally planned. His dropping one last name of his hyphenated name.

    I plan to take his last name that he chooses and hyphenate it with mine. Is there anyway that I can do this without a court petition, or do I have to go through the courts?

    Also does he have to go through the courts to drop part of his hyphenated name?

    If I decide to not hyphenate my name and just take his last name, do I have to go through the courts, since it was the original decision to change to part of his hyphenated name but changed after the ceremony by the officiant to be my maiden name instead?

    If I do decide to change my last name to a hyphenated of his soon to be one part of his last name and my maiden name, do I have to change my DL, passport, bank, credit cards and social security card?

    If I do not hyphenate, and I chose to just fully take his new one part last name, will I have to do the changes for DL, passport, bank, credit cards and social security card?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      So I originally was going to change my name to just one of his last names (the one he was gonna keep) and he would just change it after the wedding so we would have the same last name.

      Hawaii's name change statutes says your middle or last name can be "any combination" of either's current or prior middle name or last name, but it doesn't say anything about taking a portion of a name.

      I plan to take his last name that he chooses and hyphenate it with mine. Is there anyway that I can do this without a court petition, or do I have to go through the courts?

      You'll have to go to court.

      Also does he have to go through the courts to drop part of his hyphenated name?

      Yes, he has to go to court.

      If I decide to not hyphenate my name and just take his last name, do I have to go through the courts, since it was the original decision to change to part of his hyphenated name but changed after the ceremony by the officiant to be my maiden name instead?

      Changing to something other than the declared name on your marriage certificate could be a problem. You may find success with one agency and get turned down by another.

      If I do decide to change my last name to a hyphenated of his soon to be one part of his last name and my maiden name, do I have to change my DL, passport, bank, credit cards and social security card?

      Whether by court order or marriage certificate, you don't actually have to update any document.

      If I do not hyphenate, and I chose to just fully take his new one part last name, will I have to do the changes for DL, passport, bank, credit cards and social security card?

      Same answer as above.

      Reply
      1. Bea

        Well the declared surname on my license and certificate was his last name but then our officiant put in an amendment to use my maiden name as my declared surname, so can I just go back and have them take away the amendment and issue a new marriage certificate with his last name or do I have to go through the court change because the officiant put in the amendment? I declared that I would take his last name but changed my mind and the officiant put in the amendment.

        So then if I took his last name would I have to go through courts for it since it was originally my declared surname. So then I wouldn’t actually be changing what was declared right? Or since I did the amendment, I now have to do a name change through the courts? Would that be a legal change that I would have to change my documents for? If I take his last name that he changes it to?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          so can I just go back and have them take away the amendment and issue a new marriage certificate with his last name or do I have to go through the court change because the officiant put in the amendment?

          You you call Hawaii's vital records department about the possibility of amending your marriage certificate and its viability for changing your name afterward.

          So then if I took his last name would I have to go through courts for it since it was originally my declared surname.

          You can try changing your name through the Hawaii secretary of state office. There's a minor filing fee and a little legwork involved.

          Reply
  60. Rick King

    An interesting and unspoken issue related to name change. My wife of 30+ years and I have different last names. She had previously been married and while a paralegal and her law firm she changed her name back to her original last name.

    On the birth of our first child, my mother came to the hospital to see her first grandchild by birth, my brothers kid was adopted. Hospitals maintain and register the child under the admitted patient's last name so our child in the nursery was the mothers last name baby.

    My mother came to the hospital and looked in the nursery window. There was no my last name baby, among the newborns was our child, in the bassinet under the name of his mother's last name.

    Mom comes down the hall, and on seeing me exclaimed, "where is Adam, my grand child." I simply said in the nursery. We went down the hall and in the nursery bassinet, was Adam. On it it read her last name. Mom in a concerned voice proclaimed , " he is a King, isn't he?" I said yes but, in order to keep track of the child to admitted mother patient, the baby is kept, while in the hospital, under the admitted patient/mother's name.

    Just be aware, the whole last name thing is generational/traditional and comes with several things you may not anticipate. School is another, mother access to child and/or information to a dissimilar last named parent can be difficult or at the least interesting.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Just be aware, the whole last name thing is generational/traditional and comes with several things you may not anticipate.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Reply
  61. Paul

    Hyphenated names are retarded. IF everyone had hyphenated names, within 3 generations, you'd have 8 word surnames. There's a reason we have the tradition in place. Choose one and stick with it

    Reply
  62. Meagan

    Hey!

    My fiancé has a hyphenated last name. When we get married, do I have to take both or do I get to pick which last name I want?

    His last name is Arrington-Whatley. I only want Arrington.

    We live in Texas.

    Thank you for your help!

    Reply
  63. Mandy

    Hello,
    I live in California. I got married a few months ago and I haven't started the process of changing my name yet because my children from my first marriage is having a hard time with the thought of having a mom with a different last name then them. I kept my married name after the divorce because I was also worried about the problems we would face with having different last names.

    I'm look at my opinions if I should hyphenated the two names or in a past comment you talked about having two last names or what is the difference between these two options. Also when we got married I put on the certificate as if I only took my husband last name. Will that cause problems since I am second geasing my discussion?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I'm look at my opinions if I should hyphenated the two names or in a past comment you talked about having two last names or what is the difference between these two options.

      Option #1: Hyphenate. Example: Mandy Hamilton-Williams or Mandy Williams-Hamilton

      Option #2: Space-separated surname. Example: Mandy Hamilton Williams or Mandy Williams Hamilton

      On paper, option #2 may cause people to confuse the initial last name as the middle name. For some people, this may be a preferred side effect.

      Also when we got married I put on the certificate as if I only took my husband last name. Will that cause problems since I am second geasing my discussion?

      Yes. You may only change your last name through marriage with the new last name specified on the marriage certificate.

      Since you may not retroactively amend the certificate, you'll have to go through a court-petitioned name change to hyphenate or attain dual last names.

      Reply
  64. Anna Pienta

    I just recently went the to DMV to change mine and my wife’s names to hyphenated version of both of ours. It is legally changed through SS but they told me that since my name is last, I cannot do that because my maiden name has to be first and that they don’t work with SS and that SS is wrong… That I have to be ‘taking’ someone’s last name to hyphenate. Is this true? The state is Illinois. Any info helps as I can’t find much online stating this is true.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Anna. I'm not clear on which combination you've chosen: old last name, maiden name, spouse's old last name, spouse's maiden name. Please clarify.

      Reply
  65. Lisa

    Got married on the 22nd of this month, will have Hyphenated last name on mrraige license… Do to the hassle of changing last name on all gov't /legal forms, I've decided to wait to do it formally with agencies. Will this be a problem in the future? Or having my marriage certificate be good enough once I decide to make the formal change?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I've decided to wait to do it formally with agencies. Will this be a problem in the future?

      It won't be a problem.

      Or having my marriage certificate be good enough once I decide to make the formal change?

      Yes, the process will be the same if and when you decide to change.

      Reply
  66. Ameen anderson

    My wife moved back to puerto rico and now she has a social security card in both last names , maiden and my last name , no hyphen when we got married she changed her name legally to my last name name she goes to school in puerto rico under her maiden name is this legal?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ameen. If both social security cards have the same number, then one's just an old copy. If she has two numbers, then that'll have to be corrected at her closest SSA office.

      Reply
  67. Gladys M Bonner

    Hi. I'm divorced, recently got married and kept my former husband's name because of my children. I don't know if I made a mistake because I used my first name, my new husband's last name and hyphenated it with my previous husband's last name. Can I do that? or will it look as if I'm still married to my previous husband?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I do that?

      Yes, you can.

      or will it look as if I'm still married to my previous husband?

      The name may match your ex-husband's, but it is your name. Your identity. There's no right or wrong about keeping a prior spouse's name. You'll have to choose whichever you're most comfortable with.

      Reply
  68. Gina Terranova

    I will be getting married in July of this year and wanted to hyphenate my name. We both have nine letter in our name so it would be really long. Do you know if this would be allowed? Or is there a requirement to how long a name can be?

    Reply
  69. Catherine

    I live in Florida. I got divorced in 2001 and took back my maiden name by court order (Smith). I got remarried in 2004 to Jones but my marriage license has my maiden name on it — like others I did not know I could write my new married name in the space.

    I went to SSA with my marriage license and changed my name to Susan Marie Smith Jones. No hyphen. Over the years I started hyphenating my last name on everything on my own (Smith-Jones) although no official name change was done.

    My passport was issued with Smith-Jones and until recently my D/L was Susan Smith Jones. Now I want to remove the Smith- (maiden name and hyphen) and just make my name Susan Marie Jones.

    Do I need to do a name change petition, fingerprints and background? Seems stupid since my name isn't really changing.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to do a name change petition, fingerprints and background?

      Yes, all of that.

      Seems stupid since my name isn't really changing.

      Even removing one letter is considered a change.

      Reply
  70. ~McConnell

    My husband's ex-wife didn't change her last name after their divorce. Now, she had recently remarried, and had decided to STILL keep my husband's name and hyphenate with her new husband's name. Out of curiosity… Is this a new trend? Appropriate? Socially acceptable?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Out of curiosity… Is this a new trend? Appropriate? Socially acceptable?

      There can be several reasons why she chose to maintain her name. There's no right or wrong, good or bad, or typical use case. It's certainly lawful.

      Reply
  71. Omon Iyere-Isibor

    Hi, my last name is already a hyphenated one, how can I still keep it and also use my husband’s last name. We are both Nigerians.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      my last name is already a hyphenated one, how can I still keep it and also use my husband’s last name.

      How about a double hyphenation?

      Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Omon. How about replacing your middle name with your pre-marriage hyphenated surname?

          Of course, we're just talking about formatting and not getting into if this can be implemented through marriage or some other means, such as the courts. The latter depends on your residency, where your marriage took place, and if you've already changed your name to something you didn't like.

          Reply
  72. kelly

    Hi I have a question, what if I already legally changed my last name after marriage, it's been 4 years and my husband has argued about that for 4 years! He hates it , is there a way I can drop my maiden name from my last name to just keep his last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      is there a way I can drop my maiden name from my last name to just keep his last name?

      Since you've already changed your name after marriage, you'll have to go to court to do it again for the same marriage.

      Reply
  73. Mary

    I just got married. My name is Mary B. Smith and I just took my husbands last name Jones. I hyphenated with SSA. Legally I'm Mary B. Smith-Jones. We live in Wisconsin. We are expecting. My question is when our child is born, am I able to use my husband's last name on our child's birth certificate? I don't need for my child to carry my maiden name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My question is when our child is born, am I able to use my husband's last name on our child's birth certificate?

      Yes, it's up to you.

      Reply
      1. Mary

        I have another question. In Wisconsin, they recently change their policy for marriage license. Marriage license no longer includes Bride's option to change last name. They told us that I now have to apply to SSA to change my last name.

        With that said, I read some threads on this site people were having problems with the DMV. Will that be an issue for me? I checked their website and it requires for me to change my name first at SSA than wait 48 hours in order for them to see the change.

        I must still bring in a copy of my marriage license but that only shows proof of marriage not name change.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          With that said, I read some threads on this site people were having problems with the DMV. Will that be an issue for me?

          You should be fine.

          I must still bring in a copy of my marriage license but that only shows proof of marriage not name change.

          Yes, still bring your certificate, as it signifies a name change event. It doesn't have to show a new name. This is standard operating procedure in most states.

          Reply
  74. Natasha S.

    I got married about 3 years ago, and have regretted not hyphenating since I am pursuing my doctoral degree and my own professional career. I would like to hyphenate, but I don't know where to begin. I've heard that in order to hyphenate after marriage, you need to do a court-petitioned name change versus the standard procedure of just bringing in your marriage certificate and birth certificate to the social security office and DMV.

    Is there a difference, or do I just go about it as I did when I first got married? Would the name change kit that you offer work for this, or would I need to go through the court petition process?

    If the name change kit does work, how does it work? When I first changed my name, I did it all myself by walking into the offices and got my new documentation through that venue, and then went through the process of changing my name at my work, school, etc. How does/would the name change kit factor into that?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Natasha. If you've already changed your name after marriage, you'd have to get a court order to change it again while still married. The kit is used in conjunction with a document that signifies a name change event, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order.

      Reply
  75. Gina Strano

    Hey I’m a Florida resident and I was wondering if I take my future husbands name on the marriage certificate do I have to change it at the social security office and on my license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      if I take my future husbands name on the marriage certificate do I have to change it at the social security office and on my license?

      No, you do not.

      Reply
  76. Leanne

    Hi Valera! I was married 05/12/18 and have not changed my last name yet. I want to hyphenate mine with my maiden and husbands to Hochberg-Neill. We were married in Utah but were just relocated to Idaho. Do I need to submit the court petition for the name change through Utah or Idaho? Thank you :)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to submit the court petition for the name change through Utah or Idaho?

      You don't need to petition the court to change your last name. Just use your Utah marriage certificate in Idaho.

      Reply
  77. Noldimia

    Hi,
    I am from California. I got married almost two years ago, my wife and I decided to keep both our last names but with didn’t include the hyphen. Now we changed our minds and want to include it. Would that be a problem? And if it is possible to do it, can I get it done by using the Marriage Name Change Kit for both of us ? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      my wife and I decided to keep both our last names but with didn’t include the hyphen. Now we changed our minds and want to include it. Would that be a problem?

      In California, you'll only be able to change your name through marriage to what's precisely specified on your marriage certificate. Beyond that, you'll have to petition the court.

      Reply
  78. Dejane

    If hyphenate my maiden name with my husband's name, what would be my middle name then? Or is it necessary to put my middle name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If hyphenate my maiden name with my husband's name, what would be my middle name then?

      Your middle name would remain the same.

      Or is it necessary to put my middle name?

      Put it on what? Please clarify.

      Reply
  79. Renee Butler

    My husband does not want a divorce, although I do. I do not want his last name any more, more so than wanting to be divorced. I looked up the 'hassle' and cost of changing my last name back to my maiden name. However, could I use: First, Maiden-Married without legally changing my last name to this, since my maiden name is on my 'records' as my original surname?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      However, could I use: First, Maiden-Married without legally changing my last name to this

      That wouldn't be considered your legal name. It could only be used informally.

      Reply

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