How to Legally Change Your Name in Kentucky

Kentucky name change guide

Planning to undergo a Kentucky name change? Not sure where to start? You've come to the right place. This detailed guide will show you how to navigate the legal name change process via marriage, divorce, or court order.

Marriage name change

You can legally change your name after marriage in Kentucky using a certified copy of your marriage certificate. Let's dig deeper and explore your prospects and constraints.

Kentucky marriage name change

Who eligible to change their name?

In Kentucky, a wife can take her husband's name. But the husband can't take his wife's without petitioning the court. Same-sex couples don't have such a court barrier.

Do I have to change my name?

Name change is optional in Kentucky. No obligation.

When do I choose my new name?

You don't choose your new name on the marriage license application. Your old name goes there. Choose it when it's time to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA).

When should I start my name change?

Start changing your name on ID after you get a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

How do I prove my married name change happened?

You can obtain certified copies of your Kentucky marriage certificate for $6 from KY's Health Department, or $10.50 from the county clerk who issued your marriage license.

What if I get married outside of Kentucky?

If you live in Kentucky and got married in:

  • Kentucky
  • Another state, or
  • Another territory or country

Use your marriage certificate for name change anywhere. But there's a catch: you're bound by what Kentucky allows.

Confused? Here's a hypothetical:

If you live in Kentucky, yet marry in a state that allows a name change configuration barred in the commonwealth. Would Kentucky accept your new name? The SSA or DMV?

The answer is split:

  1. Kentucky SSA will honor it, because they're federal.
  2. Kentucky DMV won't, because they're state.

Bottom line, Kentucky will accept another state's name change rules if compatible with theirs.

Can I skip my divorce name change and remarry?

Divorced and getting remarried? Never went back to your old name? What do you do? The most expedient approach is:

  1. Ignore your divorce decree.
  2. Shift your name once after remarriage.

What are my married name change options?

Kentucky allows basic name changes:

On the flip side, you can't:

  • Change your first name.
  • Drop your middle name outright.
  • Hyphenate or append to your middle name.
  • Join last names without a hyphen, such as a space.

You can petition a Kentucky court for a name change not allowed through wedlock.

Marriage license to marriage certificate

Before changing your name after marriage, you'll need a new license to marry.

Kentucky marriage license requirements

You can apply for a Kentucky marriage license at any county clerk's office. It expires 30 days after issuance. And it's valid throughout the commonwealth.

Apply together; no proxies. Bring photo ID, such as a driver's license or ID card. They might request your social security card. Minors, bring your Kentucky birth certificate.

The minimum age to marry in Kentucky is now 17. Both parents (or guardian) and Family Court must consent. An underage applicant's spouse can't be over four years older.

Your Kentucky marriage license will cost $50, which includes:

  1. One non-refundable license to marry.
  2. One certificate of marriage (mailed after your nuptials).

Keep in mind, there's no:

  • Blood test
  • Waiting period
  • Marriage-by-proxy
  • First cousin marriage
  • Residency requirement
  • Self-solemnized ceremony
  • Marriage prior to 17 years old
  • County clerk courthouse civil ceremony
  • Common law marriage recognized after 1852

Now it's time to.

  1. Get married.
  2. Bring two witnesses.
  3. Return your completed license.
  4. Await your certified certificate by mail.
  5. Change your name using your certified certificate.

Your officiant has one month to return your signed license after the ceremony. The longer they wait, the longer your name change gets delayed.

Find a Kentucky county clerk's office

You can find your nearest Kentucky county clerk's office using the following lookup tool:

Divorce name change

You can change your name after divorce in Kentucky using a certified copy of your divorce decree. Where you divorced doesn't matter: KY or out-of-state.

Kentucky divorce name change

Who can restore their name?

Both men and women can change their name through divorce.

Do I have to return to my old name?

You're not required to switch back to your "legal name upon dissolution," no matter what your divorce decree says. You won't get into legal trouble by abstaining.

Can my ex force me to change my name?

Your former spouse can't force you to switch your name if you wish to keep it. The decision belongs to you alone.

How and when do I request my old name back?

During the divorce hearing, you can request the judge insert an order in your divorce decree that restores your maiden name or any former name you've held.

What if I'm remarrying after divorce?

If you're divorcing and remarrying, you'll have back-to-back name change events queued:

  1. Divorce name change
  2. Then a marital name change

You can skip your divorce name change and do it once after remarriage. Consider two drawbacks to keeping your old married name active:

  1. It'll appear on your new marriage record.
  2. You must use your divorced name if hyphenating.

Can I change my name in a limited divorce?

Kentucky law has two types of divorce:

  1. Limited: court-supervised separation.
  2. Absolute: final and ends with a decree of dissolution.

Name change discussed here applies to absolute divorce and annulments, not limited divorce.

Can I change my name before I'm divorced?

You can't change your name via divorce until it's finalized. Here's the sequence:

  1. File for divorce.
  2. Get your divorce finalized.
  3. Obtain certified copies of your decree of dissolution.
  4. Use your decree to restore your old name.

How do I prove my divorce name change occurred?

You can order certified copies of your Kentucky divorce decree from two places:

  1. Kentucky vital statistics office, for $6.
  2. District court clerk's office where your dissolution occurred, for $10.50.

Court name change

You can change your name after filing a successful court petition using a certified copy of your approved court order.

Kentucky court order name change

How do I file my petition for name change?

If you're an adult age 18 or over, you can file a Petition for Name Change in the KY circuit court within your county of residence. It's not a small fee: costing around $120.

Your entry point is circuit court, but they may assign probate your case number. For instance, Jefferson County and Fayette County probate courts handle name changes.

It's a Class D felony in Kentucky to change your name for fraudulent purposes, such as evading legal duties (creditors, child support, etc) or prosecution.

Are there forms and hearings?

The name change form is simple. Fill out your new name, reason for changing, then sign the petition. The court clerk gets your petition notarized and might schedule your court date; it's possible the judge approves without a hearing.

How do I change my child's name?

You can change the name of your minor child by court petition, same as an adult. But if one parent disagrees or is absent, the petitioning parent must:

  1. Attend a scheduled hearing.
  2. Tell the other parent the hearing date and location.
  3. Assure certified mail or personal service served notice.

There's no hearing if both biological parents agree; the court grants approval by default.

Do I have to publish a newspaper notice?

Unlike most other states, Kentucky law doesn't require you to post notice of your name change petition in a local newspaper.

How do I prove my court petition was granted?

You'll get a certified copy of your Decree of Name Change court order from the circuit clerk's office after the judge's ruling approves your petition. No extra charge.

Updating your Kentucky identification

Name change after marriage, divorce, or court petition isn't automatic in Kentucky. No one knows about it except for you. It's time to tell the world.

Kentucky, updating your ID after name change

Don't use photocopies of documents—ID, certificates, etc—when corresponding with government agencies; only originals or certified reprints.

Update your social security card

You should get a new social security card before tackling other paperwork. Mail Form SS-5 and your name change document to your local social security office.

Update your driver's license or Real ID

You can update the name on your Kentucky driver's license or Real ID at either a:

  1. Driver licensing regional office, for $15.
  2. Circuit court clerk's office, for $12.

Bring your certified name change document:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce decree
  • Court order

Bring proof of Kentucky residency (two for Real ID or one for standard card):

  • Current:
    • Record from a Kentucky school
    • Lease or rental agreement
    • Mortgage statement
    • Driver's license
    • Property tax bill
    • Kentucky car title
    • Kentucky vehicle registration
    • Insurance policy (auto, life, health, etc)
    • IRS W-2 or 1099 form (most recent tax year)
  • Documents less than one year old:
    • Utility bill (gas, electric, phone, cable, etc)
    • Bank statement
    • Credit card statement
    • Federal or state tax return
    • Paycheck stub or salary slip
    • Kentucky voter registration card
    • Mail postmarked by the U.S.P.S. (no PO Boxes)

Bring proof of identity:

  • U.S. birth certificate
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • U.S. consular report of birth abroad
  • U.S. certificate of citizenship or naturalization
  • Foreign passport
  • Visa
  • Green card (I-551)
  • Conditional green card
  • Arrival/departure record (I-94)

Bring proof of your social security number:

  • Pay stub
  • Social security card
  • IRS W-2 or 1099 form (most recent tax year)

Kentucky law mandates you get a new driver's license within 10 days of a name change.

Update your vehicle title

You can update the name on your Kentucky vehicle title following these steps:

  1. Visit your county clerk's office.
  2. Bring proof of name change.
  3. Fill out Form TC96-182.
  4. Show photo ID.
  5. Pay $6 fee.
  6. Pay the notary fee (around $2–3).

Update your passport

You can change the name on your U.S. passport before or after getting your new social security card. Your passport age determines the processing fee.

Min age (years)Max age (years)Use formFeeMail
01DS-5504$0Yes
115DS-82$110 Yes
15N/ADS-11$115–135No
First-timeFirst-timeDS-11$115–135 No

Mail Form DS-5504 for passports under a year old. Issued under 15 years ago, mail DS-82 and $110. Issued over 15 years ago or never, file DS-11 in person for $115–135.

Update your birth certificate

You can update the name or gender marker on your or your child's birth certificate with a court ordered name change document. Submit Form VS-2J to KY's Registrar of Vital Statistics.

Update your voter registration

You can change the name or address on your Kentucky voter registration card by mail or online through the State Board of Elections.

Update everyone and everything else

After notifying government agencies of your name change, it's time to update other required documents and third parties:

  • Bank accounts
  • Business cards
  • Business filings (DBA, LLC)
  • Clubs and memberships
  • Credit cards
  • Credit unions
  • Dentist and doctor offices
  • Email accounts (sender name and signature)
  • Employer, employees, and clients
  • Friends and family
  • Insurance companies (auto, life, disability, health)
  • Landlord or landlady
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Mortgage company
  • Newspapers
  • Pharmacists
  • Property deeds, titles, and trusts
  • Retirement plans (401k and IRA)
  • Shopping accounts (Amazon, eBay, PayPal)
  • Social media profiles (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
  • Streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime)
  • Utilities (cable, electric, internet, trash, water)

Kentucky name change closing thoughts

Conquering a Kentucky name change is exhaustive. Whether you're a newlywed, divorcée, parent, or minor, you'll face a county clerk, court clerk, or judge; one filing fee after another.

But the legal fees, forms, and wrangling will be worth it once your new card arrives. Good luck name changing. Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section.

Do you plan to change your name?

Our online name change kit makes it easy.

Get Started

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *