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
Let's dig deeper and explore your prospects and constraints.
Who eligible to change their name?
Do I have to change my name?
Name change is optional in Kentucky. No obligation to shift.
When do I choose my new name?
When should I start my name change?
You can 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:
- 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:
Would Kentucky accept your new name if you live in Kentucky yet marry in a state that allows a name change configuration barred in the commonwealth? The SSA or DMV?
The answer is split:
- Kentucky SSA will honor it, because they're federal.
- 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:
- Ignore your divorce decree.
- Change your name once after remarriage.
What are my married name change options?
Kentucky allows basic name changes:
- Take your spouse's last name.
- Hyphenate your last name with your spouse's.
- Replace your middle name with your maiden name.
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.
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 allowed. 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.
Your Kentucky marriage license will cost $50, which includes:
- One non-refundable license to marry.
- One certificate of marriage (mailed after your nuptials).
Keep in mind, there's no:
- Blood test
- Waiting period
- 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.
- Get married.
- Bring two witnesses (there's no minimum age).
- Return your completed license to the county clerk.
- Await your certified certificate by mail.
- Change your name using your certified certificate.
You or your officiant have one month to return your signed and completed marriage license after the ceremony. The longer they wait, the longer your name change gets delayed.
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.
Who can restore their prior 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 for changing your mind.
Can my ex-spouse force me to change my name?
Your former spouse can't force you to change your name after divorce if you prefer 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:
- Divorce name change
- Then a marital name change
- It'll appear on your new marriage record.
- You must use your divorced name if hyphenating.
Can I change my name in a limited divorce?
Kentucky law has two types of divorce:
- Limited: court-supervised separation.
- 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:
- File for divorce.
- Get your divorce finalized.
- Obtain certified copies of your decree of dissolution.
- Use your divorce 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 offices:
- Kentucky vital statistics office, for $6.
- 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.
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. The filing fee costs $120.
Warning: 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 court petition 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:
- Attend a scheduled hearing.
- Tell the other parent the hearing date and location.
- 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.
Don't use photocopies of documents—ID, certificates, etc—when corresponding with government agencies; only present 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:
Bring your certified name change document:
- Marriage certificate
- Divorce decree
- Court order
Bring proof of Kentucky residency (two for a Real ID or one for a standard card):
- 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
- 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:
- Visit your county clerk's office.
- Bring proof of name change.
- Fill out Form TC96-182.
- Show photo ID.
- Pay $6 fee.
- 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 form||Fee|
Mail Form DS-5504 for passports under a year old. Issued under 15 years ago, mail DS-82 and $130. Issued over 15 years ago or never, file DS-11 in person for $165.
Optional expedited processing costs $60 extra. It lowers the processing time from 10 to 13 weeks to 7 to 9 weeks.
Update your birth certificate
Update your voter registration
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
- 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 below.