116 Comments

When it comes to changing your name there are many ways of doing it. What many people think of is a tedious process that perhaps takes forever. Nonetheless, it's just a process, whether the court is involved or not, like any other with an outcome. To be on the safe side and avoid unnecessary long processes, there are a number of things you need to understand concerning name change, whether it comes as a result of marriage, divorce, court order, or passing of a spouse.

Changing to the last name of your spouse

This is one of the most common name changes out there. If you are planning to get married you don't need to go to court or find another way of changing into the name of your spouse. Once you are married, you can change your maiden name by using the marriage certificate only as the proof. Simply update the credit cards, banks, motor vehicle departments, among others, and you are good to go.

Remember, certified copies of a marriage certificate are required and photocopies won't help you. Call or visit the place the marriage certificate was issued and request one to three certified marriage certificate copies—each usually has a raised seal.

Hyphenated last name

In case of you don't want to do away with the maiden name but want to use the spouse's last name together with the maiden name, you don't have to go to court either. The marriage certificate process is sufficient for a hyphenated last name. However, in most cases, if the husband might want to have his name changed or if what you want is a completely different last name from either the spouse's last name or the maiden name, a name change petition has to be filed in a court.

Husband taking wife's last name

As much as it can be expensive, it's possible for a man to take his wife's last name. However, only nine states allow it currently as part of the marriage name change process, but it doesn't mean it can't be done even in states where this issue has not cropped up yet. You only need to petition for a legal name change; don't forget states and local courts have different forms for this. Filing fees are also there and should be considered before the process can be started. Just like with other forms of name change, the man will be asked whether he's associated with criminal liability or debt. A number of states will even require the intent to change into your wife's last name be published in a newspaper.

New first name

The process of changing into a new first name legally is similar to changing the last name. However, in as much as it differs from one state to the other, a court's permission is required including obtaining a judge's order. It's through that order that changing into the first new name on the birth certificate as well as other documents will be possible. Also, expect police checks to be carried out on you in a number of states before the process can begin. Remember sex offenders among others are not allowed to change any of their names.

Return to maiden name following divorce

Following divorce, you can revert back to your maiden or previous name. While this varies a lot from one jurisdiction to another, in most states it's a very easy process to request the judge handling the divorce to enter a name restoration order to the maiden name. In fact, if the divorce has been finalized and with it a court order concerning change of name, that's all one has to do. Get the court order, a certified copy, as the name restoration's proof. The copy can then be used to have the name changed on any identification card, magazine subscription, bank accounts among others.

In case the divorce has been finalized without the court order allowing name change to occur, see if you can have the court order altered to include language that allows name change.

Keep in mind, whether or not a judge grants an order to restore your maiden name, you are not required to change your name after divorce if you prefer to maintain your married name.

Maiden to middle name

It's possible to change your name and still maintain the maiden name. Once you have adopted your husband's name the maiden name can become the middle name, but you must be in a state that allows it. Many states have no problem with changing the maiden name to the middle name, but the process is very tricky in such states as Washington, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and New Jersey. These states require a court petition to have the name changed and the process can be quite stressful or trouble-free. In states with stressful processes, hyphenation might turn out to be the most ideal and easiest secondary option, if you must change.

Brand new middle name

To change into a brand new middle name is possible but a court petition is almost certainly required. You need to know in such states as New York people have the right to adopt the name they so desire by using that name as consistently as possible but without the intention of defrauding anyone. However, when it comes to financial agencies and the government, there might be problems, particularly in such a time when terrorism, credit card fraud, identity theft and other ills are so common. Legal court documents might be needed by financial agencies and the government. Also, remember passports, birth certificate and social security card requires legal name change documents.

Double, compound, or segmented middle or last name

There are many options when it comes to changing your name. Apart from the traditional hyphenated name there are many options, especially for those seeking a more elaborate name change in New York. In fact, you can change into a name that combines a single surname, a segment or all of the pre-marriage surname or any previous surname of every spouse. You can also opt for a combination type of surname that's hyphen separated provided that every part of the combination surname is a previous surname or pre-marriage surname of every one of the spouses.

The legal implications following these types of name changes is that the marriage certificate will be one of the proofs that the use of the new double/compound/segmented middle or last name is lawful. Remember, you have the right to adopt and use any kind of name you would like just by using the chosen name consistently, but devoid of the intent to cheat someone.

Entirely new last name

As already mentioned, anyone can adopt any kind of name they want simply by using that particular name consistently without the aim of defrauding. The only problem is that legal court documents could be required by government and financial agencies when it comes to changing into the entirely new last name and ensuring it appears on your passport, birth certificate, social security card and other documents. It means you need a court petition that will give you the legal backing to have the new last name you choose for yourself adopted on every document important to you.

Widowers returning to prior name

It's possible after the grieving period is over for a widow to want to restore or go back to her maiden name. In contrast with a divorce, where the decree usually gives the wife the legal power to return to a previous name or a maiden name, a widow only gets a death certificate that only mentions briefly the surviving spouse's name. This leaves the widow with the power to take further legal action if she so desires to go back to her prior name.

You need to get an order showing cause or a court's publication order setting a date in the court. However, not every state requires a publication notice to be made and the hearing date also varies from one jurisdiction to another. Remember to collect certified copies of the signed decree so that you can present it to government and financial agencies such as the social security administration, motor vehicle license department, and passport office, among others. It's possible that the court will require a certified copy of the decree provided by the vital statistics department.

Whichever approach, sequence, or name change combination you choose, it's important to know the proper procedures and limitations, based on where you live. Some options involve going to court, while others simply require a certified copy of your marriage certificate or divorce decree as proof. Your choices are many. Good luck navigating your name change journey.

116 Comments

  1. Carol Louise Carter

    How do I add my married last name to my current marriage certificate from a year ago? Keeping my current last name and ADDING my married name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Carol. Marriage certificates can't be amended after the fact unless there's a typographical error. They're historical documents. Snapshots in time.

      Reply
  2. Donna

    Hello, I recently got married in NJ (live in NY) my marriage license / certificate did not have a spot to put my new surname. I want to change my last name to my husbands. What is the next step to getting my name changed to his?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Donna. Just take a certified copy of your marriage certificate as-is to change it with the various government institutions.

      Reply
  3. Yari

    Hello, my name is Yarilda
    When I requested my license the lady that was helping of refused to hyphen my new surname instead she told me I had 2 options: take both of my fiancé’s last name or combine mine and his witch I hate. If I get marry with this license can I fixed later on or not?
    I really can’t undrstandwhy she didn’t when it’s stated on the NYC page that it’s one of 4 options to name changing after marriage.

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Yari. You could either combine a portion of surnames without a hyphen or hyphenate surnames in their entirety. These can be current or former surnames.

      Whatever you choose to change it to now can only be done once using your marriage certificate. Changing it again would require you to go to court.

      Reply
  4. Winnie weng

    i received a marriage certificate about 7 years ago at city hall getting married and i changed my last name to follow his but never changed over any other documents like Social security or anything else. I decided i don't want to follow his last name, how can i revert the marriage certificate last name? do i go to the city hall i went to get married and ask them to revert it or its more complicated?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      how can i revert the marriage certificate last name? do i go to the city hall i went to get married and ask them to revert it or its more complicated?

      Such a change wouldn't be approved unless they're forced to by a court order. Marriage certificates are historical documents that aren't meant to be altered. Modifications are typically performed for typographic errors, but even in those cases the original document is usually left alone while an addendum citing the update is attached.

      Having said all that, if you've only changed your name on your marriage certificate and no other document, then there's nothing for you to really change that would affect you in any real-world circumstance.

      The certificate merely provides you the option to change your name, but doesn't have any legal significance unless you take the action to formally change it on your identity documents.

      Reply
  5. Theresa

    I got married 6 years ago and did not take my husbands last name on my marriage certificate. I was told that i may need a court order to now change my name since many years have passed and the marriage certificate and license doesn't show that I took his last name. Is a court order needed? I live on CA and got married in Nevada.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Theresa. You shouldn't have to obtain a court order as Nevada marriage applications and certificates do not provide spaces for a new name after marriage. Many states do not provide such spaces.

      Reply
  6. Sara E Brown

    When the judge asked me if I wanted to restored to my maiden name. I told her no, and my spouse was OK with me keeping his last name. On the paperwork that I received she marked that I needed to restore to my former name. How do I go about keeping my spouse's last name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sara. Restoration lines provide you an option to switch back, but it doesn't force you to do so.

      Reply
  7. Stanley Erickson

    My wife is Russian, and is applying for her pension there. We were married 20 years ago in Nevada, and Nevada then did not show the new name of a wife. The Russian Embassy says they have no proof they can accept that my wife changed her surname to my surname and we will have to get a Change of Name Certificate from some court for them. We live in Florida. Where and how can we obtain such a certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Staneley. They wouldn't accept any identity document or a certified copy of your marriage certificate? If you do need a court document, you'll have to contact the circuit court.

      Reply
      1. Stanley Erickson

        We got married shortly after she arrived from Russia, before she got a SSN or a DL, so there was no name change recorded in either of them, and the embassy might not accept those either. The certified copy of our marriage certificate does not have her married name, only her maiden name, so it does not show anything that proves she changed her name. Do I need to go to the Nevada circuit court (far away) or can a Florida circuit court grant me a Change of Name Certificate?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Stanley. If the Russian embassy is of no help and they won't accept any of the identity documents in her new name (e.g., social security card, driver's license, state-issued ID), then she'll have to petition a Florida circuit court for a name change. The judge would provide her a court document confirming her changed name which should satisfy the embassy.

          Reply
          1. Stanley Erickson

            I contacted the Family Court deputy clerk in the county in which I live, and he informed me there was absolutely no way that a judge would provide me with such a court document. If we petitioned for a name change, he said it would be a waste of $401 as the judge would refuse a name change request as there was no change of name desired. The Certificates of Name Change are only issued when the name is changed, and my wife wants to keep her name.

          2. Valera

            The Certificates of Name Change are only issued when the name is changed, and my wife wants to keep her name.

            You may want to get this in writing to present to the embassy. If the document they're requesting cannot be obtained, what will they accept in its place? An affidavit? If all else fails, you may have to contact an attorney.

  8. ursula

    Husband and I combined our last names on our marriage certificate into a new last name. We took the CIA from his and the AL from mine. This is an option now in California at the time of applying for a marriage licenese. At the SS office however, we were told we needed a court order to get a new card even though the new last name is on the marriage certificate in the new name section. Were they wrong?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      At the SS office however, we were told we needed a court order to get a new card even though the new last name is on the marriage certificate in the new name section.

      It appears you encountered a clerk who's not well-versed in the Name Equality Act of 2007. California law allows merging of last names (within acceptable parameters), and the SSA should accept that as valid.

      Reply
  9. Maggie

    Hello,

    I got married about 8 years ago in CA and only now do I need to officially change my name. There was no ‘married name’ indicated on my marriage certificate. I was able to change my name at the social security office and get a new card, but it seems to be unclear about how to go about getting a new drivers license. I spent 5 hours in line at the DMV, but they would not allow it. It seems that it can vary as I cannot find any info online other than “they may make you get a court order”, which is an unbelievable hassle and a huge delay.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maggie. California DMVs are aware that the California Name Equality Act was enacted in 2007. Marriage license applications since then should have long since been modified to ask what your preferred name after marriage would be.

      Are you suggesting your marriage application from eight years ago didn't provide you a spot to specify a new name? If so, you may be able to get an amendment to your marriage certificate after the fact.

      You'll have to head to the county clerk's office that issued your license and recorded your certificate to confirm if the application copy they have on file did provide you an opportunity to specify a new name. If it did not, inquire as to why not? Was it standard procedure to omit this field with the understanding that state DMVs would accept certified marriage certificates missing this information for purposes of name changes?

      Having said all that, if the application did actually contain an area for you to choose a new name and you overlooked it, you'll have to go to court to either demand your marriage certificate be amended or just straight up petition for a court ordered name change.

      Reply
  10. Patti

    My divorce decree in NV states I will retain my married name ,but I now want
    to change my name back to my previous married name, as it is the surname of my children and grandchildren. I have a marriage license and marriage certificate from NV with this name on it. Do I need a court order for a name change I now live in CO?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Patti. You can throw a Hail Mary by contacting the divorce court and asking if your divorce decree can be amended after the fact.

      I don't know how long ago your divorce was finalized, but some judges and courts are willing to modify a divorce decree if the request is minor and the finalization took place a reasonably short time ago.

      If that doesn't work, you'll have to go to court to change your name. You can get it done in your Colorado court.

      Reply
  11. Erica Reyvas

    Hello,
    I legally changed my name after getting married, combining my last name with my spouse’s last name. However, my spouse is unable to take my new last name now because it is different on the marriage license. Is it possible to amend a court order to include her taking my new last name? My confusion is if I am her spouse, she should be able to take my new last name. Right? Please help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Erica. Since your court-ordered name change took place after you were married, the change wouldn't extend to your spouse. If it took place prior to marriage, your spouse would be able to take your name.

      Reply
  12. Olena

    Hello Sir/Madam,
    I have New Zealand Married certificate. I would like to take my husband's last name.
    Can Australia recognise marriage certificate from New Zealand? how can i change it?
    thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can Australia recognise marriage certificate from New Zealand?

      As long as your marriage was valid by New Zealand law and could have taken place under Australian law, your marriage would be recognized in Australia.

      how can i change it?

      Although your overseas marriage certificate will likely be recognized, it's possible some institutions won't recognize it as sufficient to process a name change the same way an Australian marriage certificate would be.

      In that were to happen, you may have to register for a name change with the appropriate BDM (births, deaths and marriages registry).

      Reply
  13. Ruth Malloy

    Hi. My birth certificate does not include my middle name of Ann. This is my "Proof of Lawful Presence and Proof of Date of Birth", one of 2 required by the Massachusetts DMV to get a "Real ID License/ /ID.

    The second document, my marriage certificate, does include my middle name, Ann. So, my only "Name Must Match" document, which is also required to get my "Real ID License" doesn't match my required Lawful Presence document.

    Since the two do not match it appears I have to file for and obtain a Court Document to legally confirm the middle name I've been using for years. Am I correct about this or is there something else I can do? (My Social Security card does include my middle name, but that seems to be of no help.)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ruth. You should be fine with just your marriage certificate. If your name doesn't match what's on your lawful presence document, you'll need another document to justify your name change. That's the purpose of your marriage certificate. BTW, the RMV will perform a name lookup against the SSA database and will see your middle name there.

      Reply
  14. Miranda

    Hello, I have a question. My husband was born in the UK, and is now a permanent legal resident of the US where we both reside. He wishes to revert to his birth surname, which was changed after being adopted by his stepfather. We have gone through the deed poll process to change his name overseas, and will be petitioning for a court order here in Kentucky to change his name here. Do I need a court order of my own to change my name to match his, or would showing his court order to the SS office be sufficient? Thank you very much.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Miranda. You'd need your own court-approved court order to change your name to match.

      Reply
  15. Stephen Williams

    I am British and the lady I married is Lithuanian we went to register our marriage in Lithuania but they will not register her as Williams which is my surname as on our marriage certificate it has not got the married name and in Lithuania they have the name before and after marriage on the marriage certificate is there any document I could get as proof that she has taken my surname

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Stephen. Will they accept another identity document in her changed name instead of the marriage certificate?

      Reply
  16. Rishi

    I get married in April 2018 and got married register in August 2018.
    My question is that, in marriage certificate my surname and wife surname is showing original ones. (means wife before marriage surname is showing)
    Is that correct or wife newa surname will have to come there.

    Reply
  17. FINA M ALLEN

    My husband became a US citizen and added another a middle name and also removed his second last name..is out marriage still legal? We live in Texas.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My husband became a US citizen and added another a middle name and also removed his second last name..is out marriage still legal?

      Yes.

      Reply
  18. Katie McGuire

    I got married in Michigan and signed my marriage license with my legal name at the time, not his last name. Will the marriage certificate with his last name be enough for me to take his name when I go to the social security office in Minnesota, where we live? I am afraid after waiting in line for hours they will tell me that I can't just take his last name and will need a court order

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will the marriage certificate with his last name be enough for me to take his name when I go to the social security office in Minnesota, where we live?

      Yes, your marriage certificate will be sufficient.

      Reply
  19. Briana

    Hi, I’ve already signed my marriage license…stating that I will change my name to my partners last name. But now, I’m having second thoughts. Is there a way to keep my maiden name even though I already signed my marriage license. (We have not had the ceremony yet)

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is there a way to keep my maiden name even though I already signed my marriage license. (We have not had the ceremony yet)

      Ceremony or not, signature or not, the declaration to change your name is nonbinding. Ignore it and your name stays the same. There's no penalty or consequence.

      Reply
  20. Lana

    Hi!
    I got married in USA in Chicago. I took my husband’s last name. But in marriage certificate there is no any record about the fact that I change my last name. Now I need to back in Ukraine and make new passport. But there people consider that this marriage certificate without the record that I took my husband’s last name is not the basis for making my new passport. What document can I show in Ukraine that prove that I changed my last name? Maybe Illinois can give some documents in addition?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lana. Illinois doesn't provide a spot to specify a new last name on the marriage license application which is why it's not shown on the certificate.

      Reply
  21. Victoria Smith

    My husband wants to change his last name to his mother’s maiden name since he always informally went by that name (not his legal last name of his father). We recently were married and our marriage license has his legal last name (his father’s) and my last name. We both want to change to the name he always has gone by informally (mother’s maiden name). Am I right that we both need to file Petitions for Name Change with the court? I know he has to, but I wasn’t sure if once his and change is granted, if we would be able to somehow update our marriage certificate with his new name and then let me use the new marriage certificate to change mine. (We are in Florida.)

    Reply
  22. Tammy Choi

    My situation is a little more complex. Husband and I reside in Maryland and got married this year in September in Washington, D.C.

    I want to take his last name and then subsequently change all documentation.I figured, since I need all new documentation to reflect my last name change, why not take this opportunity to change my first name?

    I have a Korean first name but I resonate with my American first name so I have always wanted to legally change my first name to the latter. Shortly after coming to that realization, I went to court in October to start and complete my first name change process and the court granted my first name change in November (Old first name Maiden name –> New first name Maiden name).

    I went to the SSA with all pertinent documentation in hand, ready to receive the card reflecting my new first and last name, but was unfortunately denied of the change. The SSA claimed since the marriage event occurred prior to the first name change event, my court order should have reflected Old first name Husband's last name –> New first name Husband's last name.

    I was devastated and called back the court, and they advised me to write a letter to the Judge who granted my first name change to explain my unique circumstance in hopes that I won't have to start a whole new name change process. I recently composed and sent the letter out to the Judge. Did I go about this properly? What if the Judge denies my request for amendment?

    Reply
    1. Tammy Choi

      By the way, thank you for all your help with answering all the questions everyone had! So informative and so kind of you!

      Reply
    2. Valera

      The SSA claimed since the marriage event occurred prior to the first name change event, my court order should have reflected Old first name Husband's last name –> New first name Husband's last name.

      You tried to commit two name changes simultaneously using two separate name change documents: court order and marriage certificate. You had to do one at a time, and in proper sequence, to make it work.

      I was devastated and called back the court, and they advised me to write a letter to the Judge who granted my first name change to explain my unique circumstance in hopes that I won't have to start a whole new name change process.

      Make sense.

      I recently composed and sent the letter out to the Judge. Did I go about this properly?

      Yes, you're on the right track.

      What if the Judge denies my request for amendment?

      Then you'll have to file a brand new court petition and start the process over from scratch. Hopefully, it won't come back to that.

      Please be sure to report back on what the judge ultimately decides.

      Reply
      1. Tammy Choi

        Thank you for such a prompt reply. I searched up my case online as I have been doing daily religiously for updates and I received today the notice that the order was denied. As I was given advice to write the letter to the judge, I was also given your same advice in case of denial: file a brand new court petition and start from the beginning.

        I am just worried I will go through this whole tedious and emotionally draining process again just to get the order denied again.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          I am just worried I will go through this whole tedious and emotionally draining process again just to get the order denied again.

          It's unlikely it would be denied, as it would be unrelated to the first denial.

          Reply
  23. Anna

    Hello!
    I’m trying to find info on a document I need to change my russian travel document. They say that since marriage license doesn’t state my new last name I have to obtain a court order simply saying that (my old name) married (my husband’s name) and now her new name will be (current name). I honestly have no idea if anyone will be able to do it for me and even where to start looking for it? What cour would handle this matter?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I honestly have no idea if anyone will be able to do it for me and even where to start looking for it?

      I'm not 100% sure what you're asking here. You could receive a court order document validating your preferred name by going through a regular court-petitioned name change process.

      Reply
  24. Amber

    hello!
    i was recently married October 2018. i am in NJ. my husband's last name is hyphenated (his moms last name-his dad's last name). we have children who only carry the first part of his last name. the marriage certificate has his full hyphenated last name & it has my maiden name.

    i went & got my new social security card with just the first part of his last name (like our children). i checked with the clerk at the Municipality in which we received our marriage license & she said it won't be a problem to NOT hyphenate my married last name, she said "you can have whatever you want as your last name, this is just for the certificate".

    i went to the dmv & was turned away because i would have to have his FULL hyphenated last name or we would have to see if the Municipality will let him drop the second part on the certificate. even though, my new social security card only has the first part. the manager at the dmv said social security doesnt override dmv. how, if they need my social security number to apply for a new license?? i don't know what to do.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      we would have to see if the Municipality will let him drop the second part on the certificate.

      You can try.

      the manager at the dmv said social security doesnt override dmv. how, if they need my social security number to apply for a new license??

      The SSA and DMV operate under different guidelines when it comes to name change. You'd have to defer to the latter's rules when it comes to your driver's license.

      If you can't get your certificate changed, you can look into the remarriage marriage license option. Short of that, your remaining option is to go to court.

      Reply
      1. Amber

        a remarriage would change our wedding date though. since in NJ, there is no space for a desired new last name on the certificate; what if i wanted (i don't) to hyphen my last name & his? so my name would read Amber Maiden Name-Husband's 1st Last Name-Husband's Second Last Name? seems silly. going to court for a name change, would that mean i no longer have a maiden name? since the name change wouldn't be because of our marriage license? thank you for your fast response.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          what if i wanted (i don't) to hyphen my last name & his?

          Changing it with the SSA again would require a court order.

          seems silly. going to court for a name change, would that mean i no longer have a maiden name? since the name change wouldn't be because of our marriage license?

          You'd always have a maiden name, which is your name at birth.

          Reply
  25. Miguk

    Hi, i got married abroad to my korean husband and have a noterized translated copy along with orginal of my marriage certificate.

    I know you can go to social security to get your last name changed to your spouses for free after marriage, but there is one issue. My husbands mother made a typo on his last name spelling when she made his korean name into english for his passport.

    Its a simple 1 letter, but i want to get the correct spelling bc h3 will go to court or to uis embassy to fix the passport error soon. And then his name and our babies will all match.

    My question is, if i explain its a typo can i still change is for free at social security office? Or will i have to go to court?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Miguk. Why not just get the marriage certificate corrected and reissued?

      Reply
  26. Rachel

    Hi, I got married 15 years ago & I took my husband’s last name. We’re in the process of changing our last name, we’re changing it to his stepfather’s last name to recognize him & for inheritance purpose. My question is can we amend our marriage certificate so it will show his new last name & my original name before I married him.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My question is can we amend our marriage certificate so it will show his new last name & my original name before I married him.

      You'd have to get a judge to issue a court order for such a change, but it's highly unlikely such an order would be approved.

      Reply
  27. Leti

    Hi, I got married through court 2 years ago and I only took my husband's last name, but now I would like to hyphen my last name. Is it possible to go back to my marriage certificate and hyphen my last name after 2 years?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it possible to go back to my marriage certificate and hyphen my last name after 2 years?

      That wouldn't be approved.

      Reply
  28. Leticia rodriguez

    Hi I got married 2 years ago through court and I just took my husband's last name, but now I feel that I should of hyphen my last name. I still want my last name to be part of me. My question is can I get my name hyphen if yes how?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My question is can I get my name hyphen if yes how?

      You'll have to get a court order since you've already changed your name.

      Reply
  29. Lucas

    Hi, my husband and I got married and about a year afterwards he found out that his father was deceased. He had met his father only once in his life. After reconnecting with his father's side of his family and planning to have a family of his own with me, he legally changed his name to his father's so that our children would have the legitimate name of their ancestors.

    The problem we're having now is on our marriage license is his former last name. Is it possible to get the marriage license amended so that we both will have the correct name in our marriage certificate? As the wife, I am really coming against some major obstacle to taking his last name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Lucas. You might be able to change the name on your marriage record with his legal name change court order, but it's not guaranteed.

      Reply
    1. Valera

      how to change surname then ?

      If you're changing your name because of marriage, use your marriage certificate. If you're doing it by court petition, use your court order.

      Reply
  30. diana georghiou

    Hello, Thank you for being so informative.

    We were married August 2019, in a California Court House. My marriage certificate reads "First name, Middle1 as my original middle name and Middle2 as my Maiden Name, Last name which is his last name." I have not presented my certificate to the DMV nor to Social Security.

    I did not think about the fact that my driver's license, which is my legal form of photo ID, expires at the end of April.

    My current school has had a number of mishaps with changing names in the middle of the school year – leading to court cases (our union has pushed for me to keep my maiden last name and then change it in June after this current year ends, this was not brought up until after the marriage), and with my husband being deployed, for security reasons, I want to have his last name on my driver's license for the military base.

    In order to change what was written in as my second middle name over to the last name slot on the marriage certificate so the last name slot reads 2 last names (my maiden name with a space and his last name) do I have to go through the courts?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      In order to change what was written in as my second middle name over to the last name slot on the marriage certificate so the last name slot reads 2 last names (my maiden name with a space and his last name) do I have to go through the courts?

      You can't change the "new name" on your marriage certificate with a court order. At best, you an add the updated/corrected name next to the incorrect name.

      Furthermore, the court order you'd have to get would be a name change court order. And if you had such a court order, it would supersede your marriage certificate. You'd use the court order to change your name everywhere at that point.

      Here's the affidavit to amend a California marriage record which explains the process.

      Reply
  31. Misty

    Hi I got married in Nevada in 2012 I want to change the date of my marriage as it no longer means anything to my husband or I and I also want to change my last name to his. I currently live in Oregon is there anything that I can do besides getting divorced and remarried?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I want to change the date of my marriage

      Unless the date is mistaken, you can't change it.

      I also want to change my last name to his. I currently live in Oregon is there anything that I can do besides getting divorced and remarried?

      Use your Nevada marriage certificate. You don't have to jump through extra hoops.

      Reply
  32. RS

    Hi,

    My husband and I got married 2 years ago in California.When we were at the court house, the clerk typed in all of our information for the marriage certificate. I wasn't told that I had to put on my certificate the new name after marriage. It was left blank. I even told the lady I wanted to change my name after we got married.

    Anyway, I took it to social security and they still let me change my name…but DMV won't.

    So according to SS i have my husbands last name, and according to DMV, passport, etc I have my maiden name.

    What can I do about this? I read online that we can "remarry" and just file for another license and certificate. Do they check that we are already married?

    This is MUCH cheaper than going through the courts (which is $400 in CA where getting married is a little over $100.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What can I do about this? I read online that we can "remarry" and just file for another license and certificate.

      Hi RS. I'm not aware of any such thing in California.

      Reply
  33. yulie

    I got married This year i dint change my last name on the marriage certificate to his. Can i still go to the social security office and dmv to change my last name to his.

    Reply
      1. Valera

        Hi Yulie. Nevada marriage certificates don't have new name after marriage spaces. That's just the way the state designed it. That omission won't prevent you from changing your name.

        Reply
  34. yulie

    So can i just change my last name to his with the marriage certificate.

    Reply
  35. Victoria

    i live in Maryland and my situation is this: in 2012 i got married first time and changed my name everywhere using my marriage certificate. Then i got divorced and remarried in 2014. Got my US citizenship in 2017 and took my second husbands last name through naturalization process.
    Now i need to renew my international passport through Russian Embassy and they asking for proof of name change from my maiden name to first husband's last name.
    how do i get that? thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now i need to renew my international passport through Russian Embassy and they asking for proof of name change from my maiden name to first husband's last name.

      Use the marriage certificate from your first marriage. They will be able to derive your first name change from your spouse's surname.

      Reply
  36. mireya

    I got married in 2013 in CA. I just realized that under the new name change section it shows typed my first name, then my last name but under my husband's last name.

    Does that directly mean I need to go and make the changes with the SS office and DMV, etc.? or do I have the option to keep as is?

    Also, if I want to keep my maiden name along with my husband's last name (not hyphenated) but it does not show under the new name section, what must I do?

    please help I'm confused and getting headaches.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      it shows typed my first name, then my last name but under my husband's last name.

      It's not wholly clear to me what how your name is divided.

      Does that directly mean I need to go and make the changes with the SS office and DMV, etc.?

      No, any name change on your marriage record is optional.

      or do I have the option to keep as is?

      Yes, you can keep your name unchanged.

      Also, if I want to keep my maiden name along with my husband's last name (not hyphenated) but it does not show under the new name section, what must I do?

      A name change that deviates from what's listed on your marriage certificate requires petitioning the court. The certificate cannot be amended after the fact, unless it's a typographical error.

      Reply
  37. Joseph

    Hello.

    I recently had my last name changed via court order. The thing is, I leave for basic military training in less than a week. I won't have time to get my new social security card, license, or passport. Therefore, I won't be able to show proof of the name change with the required documents before I ship out. Is my name still my old name officially? Or has it already become official with the court order signed by the judge? Does it only become official once social security has been informed?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I won't be able to show proof of the name change with the required documents before I ship out. Is my name still my old name officially?

      The court order authorizes you to change your name. If you don't update any document, your name doesn't change in the real world.

      Or has it already become official with the court order signed by the judge? Does it only become official once social security has been informed?

      It's not official until you update your documents. Primarily your social security card.

      Think of your court ordered name change like a lottery ticket. Even if you win, you won't get anything unless you go to cash it in.

      Reply
      1. Joseph

        Thank you so much for verifying that. It helped ease up the stress to have everything done before I leave for training. I couldn't find the answer anywhere else online and this is a big relief.

        Reply
  38. Viki

    I got married in Florida in 2016 and never took my husbands last name now we want to change my lastname. What do i need to change is when i dont have a marriage certificate with new last name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What do i need to change is when i dont have a marriage certificate with new last name.

      Your marriage certificate doesn't have to show your new last name. That's the way Florida designs their marriage certificates. This won't stop you from completing your name change.

      Reply
  39. apollojr

    For the new ID, it says if birth certificate name is different that I need to provide a marriage certificate with new name. Does that count for first names? it dosnt specifically say only last name. My first name on BC is different on our marriage certificate and I want to use the name on my marriage certificate.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My first name on BC is different on our marriage certificate and I want to use the name on my marriage certificate.

      You can't change your first name using your marriage certificate.

      Reply
  40. Althea Mason

    I got married in CO a few years ago and changed my last name. I have decided to drop my two middle names and change my hyphenated first name into my first and middle name. I live in WI now and am wondering if this new name change is going to invalidate my marriage certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I live in WI now and am wondering if this new name change is going to invalidate my marriage certificate?

      Changing your name a second time during the same marriage doesn't invalidate your marriage or marriage certificate. Your certificate is a snapshot in time. It's meant to record what your name was at the time and isn't meant to be altered, short of clerical errors.

      Reply
  41. Lynn

    Hi,
    I got married 2 years ago in CA and did not take my husbands last name due to moving states the day after our wedding because of military. Now I’m wanting to take his last name. Do I need a court order or can I change my name with the marriage certificate?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need a court order or can I change my name with the marriage certificate?

      You'd use your marriage certificate.

      Reply
      1. Lynn

        Even though on the marriage certificate it doesn’t say anything on the lines for new last name? There is dashed on that section of the marriage certificate.

        Reply
  42. Donna

    Hello,

    I got married 2 years ago in Massachusetts with my new last name filled in on the marriage certificate, but haven’t yet officially changed it with social security, dmv, etc.

    I have heard of needing additional documentation for social security etc. after 2 years of not changing but am having a hard time finding info on if that’s true or what documentation I will actually need. Please help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I have heard of needing additional documentation for social security etc. after 2 years of not changing but am having a hard time finding info on if that’s true or what documentation I will actually need.

      Show a driver's license, passport, or state ID card. Your ID should identity you in the name that matches what's on your current social security card.

      If you had gotten married within the past two years, you could have used your marriage certificate as an ID document instead.

      Reply
  43. Karen

    My attempt to renew my passport has been thwarted by a mailed request from the passport office that I provide "a current copy of the court orders or marriage certificate of your legal change of name".

    I think the document I have in front of me is my marriage license, but I am not sure. It has as both my husband's full name and my maiden name listed. It is signed by the clerk of the circuit clerk and has a gold embossed label/sticker for my county in Maryland. Is this the document the passport office is looking for?

    The passport office has my previous passport and driver's license, both use my married name.

    There is no mention of my maiden name in any format, in any document other than here where the clerk for county clerk had signed. It says it is the "state of Maryland certification that a marriage license was issued to:" and lists my husband's full name and my full maiden name.

    The letter from the US Department of state says that if the information I provide is not sufficient my application will be denied.

    I hope this made sense and I sincerely look forward to your response
    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      It is signed by the clerk of the circuit clerk and has a gold embossed label/sticker for my county in Maryland. Is this the document the passport office is looking for?

      It should say certificate of marriage or something similar. It should show the date of marriage and the date the clerk signed and recorded the certificate.

      Unless the certificate was returned the same day of marriage, the clerk's signature date should be after the date of marriage.

      It says it is the "state of Maryland certification that a marriage license was issued to:" and lists my husband's full name and my full maiden name.

      From your description, this may just be a marriage license and not a marriage certificate. You could just contact the circuit court clerk and have them verify what's in your possession.

      If necessary, you can obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the original circuit court or the Maryland Department of Health.

      Reply
  44. Lisa

    I kept my last name but changed my middle name to my husband's last name after marriage. I was able to obtain new SS, passports, etc on the basis of my birth certificate. However, now I need some official document "proving" my name change. I was born in Chicago. Is it possible to get a revised birth certificate? What would be the best way to go about doing this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      However, now I need some official document "proving" my name change.

      Why not use your marriage certificate. Your new name can be derived from that.

      Reply
      1. Lisa

        Unfortunately, they're not accepting it. There has to be some official document "proving" name change explicitly and showing old and new name.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          There has to be some official document "proving" name change explicitly and showing old and new name.

          In cases of marriage, often proving a new name can't be done explicitly. It has to be inferred.

          For instance, only a handful of states provide the option to choose a new name after marriage. That choice is then explicitly reflected on the marriage certificate.

          For the vast majority of states, the new name must be derived from the marriage certificate by looking at both spouse's names. This is how you'd link one name transition to another.

          For whoever is asking you for this, will they accept two documents: one that show your old name and another showing your new name? For example, an old ID card, as well as your updated passport, social security card, voter registration card, etc.

          Will they accept documents that bridge the gap? Old and new documents that display your biographical details, such as date of birth and place of birth?

          Will they accept your updated social security card in your new name along with a federal or state tax document in your old name that matches your social security number?

          The question is, how do they define "official document" and what constitutes "proof" in their eyes? Do they provide these standards in writing?

          Reply
  45. tran

    I live in PA. I got my marriage license in 1997. In the marriage license, I put down my American nickname "Tom" rather than my official first name "Lam". Now I want to change it to my official first name. What do have to do? Please advise. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now I want to change it to my official first name. What do have to do?

      Contact the Pennsylvania clerk of orphan's court where your marriage license was acquired and recorded about correcting your marriage record.

      Reply
  46. Ann

    Hi! My husband just became a USC and corrected his name and one letter on his last name. Do we need to update his name in our marriage certificate and also is there a possible way to change the one letter on my last name since I started using his last name after our wedding.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do we need to update his name in our marriage certificate

      No.

      is there a possible way to change the one letter on my last name since I started using his last name after our wedding

      Not through marriage. It would have to be done through a court-petition name change. Even if you didn't change your name anywhere yet, you're locked into the new name as shown on your California marriage certificate.

      Reply
  47. Mimi

    My husband and I were married in the Philippines for more than 10 years now and living in the US for 7 years but I never used his last name. Now, I wanted to use his surname, do I have to go to court for that since we are now Citizens or could I just show our marriage certificate as proof? Our marriage certificate doesn't have the option to show your preferred married name. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      do I have to go to court for that since we are now Citizens or could I just show our marriage certificate as proof?

      Use your marriage certificate as authority to change your name.

      Reply
  48. Dee

    I recently got married in Massachusetts. The last name on my marriage license has both my maiden and my husband's last name as my name after marriage. They are not hyphenated. The city hall clerk told me this way I could go by either last name, and I think I misunderstood this to mean that I can legally change the name to just my husband's.

    Is a court order required to change my legal name to just my husband's last name? I have not changed any of my documents at the moment, and they all still have just my maiden name. I am not sure if they can accept a marriage certificate with both names on it and let me drop my maiden name for all my documents.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is a court order required to change my legal name to just my husband's last name?

      Yes.

      I am not sure if they can accept a marriage certificate with both names on it and let me drop my maiden name for all my documents.

      It would have to be match what's on the certificate.

      Reply

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