How to Change Your Name in Ohio by Marriage, Divorce, or Court Order

How to Change Your Name in Ohio by Marriage, Divorce, or Court Order

Name change should be as easy as using it on a daily basis, but this is not the case if you want to make the petition official in a legal way, whether you are in Ohio or any state across the country. If you are in Ohio, there are a number of things about name change you might want to know.

Marriage name change options

Name change after marriage in Ohio has a number of distinctions from other jurisdictions. After marriage, Ohio allows the new wife to take the name of the husband in the clearest and easiest of processes without the permission of the court. However, if you are a man and wanted to take the surname of your wife it's not very easy in Ohio; you must approach the court with a request and get a special kind of court order that gives you the green light to add your wife's last name to your own.

As you apply for a marriage license, be specific about the surname you intend to use thereafter. There are a number of new name options you can go with after marriage.

Drop your surname for the groom's

This is the most traditional way of changing your name. It allows you to drop your surname and adopt that of the man you have married.


You can simply make matters simple without really dropping your name by adding the surname of the groom to your existing surname with a hyphen.

Maiden to middle

You can also move the maiden name making it the middle name and then taking the surname of your new husband.

Leave the name as it is

It's also worth noting that you really don't have to change your name; simply enjoy your wedding ceremony, get your marriage license and continue with your name as it has always been.

Marriage name change expectations

Note: Same sex marriages name change isn't straightforward in Ohio and grooms are yet to be extended rights to change their names in that context. However, if a same-sex groom wants to change his name, he can simply petition the court for a new name change legally in the normal adult name change procedure under Ohio law.

After the marriage license has been signed, send it to the Ohio county court in your jurisdiction and it'll become the marriage certificate. Request for as many certified copies as you might want from the court for use in changing your name professionally and with governmental bodies such as Social Security Administration where proof is required.

Your name change due to marriage begins immediately after you are married and after the marriage license has been signed. There's no need of waiting until the identification has been updated including all other records and documents as far as you are simply incorporating the surname of your husband into your own.

This is referred to as usage. But usage alone isn't enough. You will have to update a spectrum of documents to make sure your name change is official across government agencies.

Divorce name change

Ohio law does not compel anyone to change their surname after marriage, but if this ever happened, the changed name will be considered the legal name. Nonetheless, the law in the state also allows those seeking divorce to go back to their prior name. Apart from divorce you can simply seek a court name change to go back to a previous name or simply assume the new name.

Under divorce, the simplest and fastest way to change your name or revert to a prior maiden name is including the change of name desire in the petition for divorce. During the divorce proceedings, the court will order reversion to that name you have selected legally.

It's important to remember the divorce court under the law in Ohio has to grant a request allowing a return to legal usage of the maiden name or to another name you might have used prior to getting married, in case the request for the change is made during the divorce proceedings.

Even if the divorce process passes without having requested a name change to be adjoined, you can still revert to a prior name by assuming the new name and going ahead to use it as you want.

Nonetheless, this change of name has to be carried out for legal/right/honest purposes and not to escape prosecution, avoid creditors or for other fraudulent coercions. Such a name change might be legal, but remember lots of organizations and bodies require a proof of change provided by a court.

General adult name change

The adult name change steps in the state of Ohio takes place in the county's probate court where you live. The application must be filed so that the court can hear the case. A hearing must be held on the petition to allow the court to deliberate on your request and either accept or deny the request. Request will be denied if the motivation is to defraud or evade justice, among other reasons the court might indicate.

To start the process, go to the probate court within your county of residence carrying photo identifications such as a valid U.S. passport or driver's license. Request forms for change of name, which might be different from one Ohio County to the other. You might also be required to offer extra details not on the application form, such as the names of your children and a spouse's, if any.

Fill the name change petition as you date and sign it without forgetting to add your telephone number and address as required. File, pay required fees, and complete anything extra the court needs. Remember to request a copy from the clerk and note the hearing date provided by the clerk.

Within your county, contact a newspaper publication that has a wider circulation around the county and schedule the name change legal notice to be published at least once within a month before the hearing of your petition.

The legal notice of the newspaper will include a number of things on the petition's copy you took from the court clerk's office, such as the time and hearing date, location of the court, case number, application purpose, current name of the petitioner, and the new name you seek to use.

After paying the fees and running the notice as required, request a publication proof that a newspaper will certainly deliver to you after it has been run; bring it to the hearing. If the application is approved, you will get a name change court order; use it to approach the various governmental and non-governmental bodies to change your name.

Child name changes

While seeking a change of name of your children, remember you need to serve the other parent with the copy of the notice, hearing date notice or simply seek a written consent from the other parent to continue with the name change.

In most cases, Ohio courts will be reluctant to agree with the name change of the last names of the children if the father objects. Nonetheless, if you can show the court good reasons why this should happen, for instance ensuring the children's names and the names of the custodial parent are consistent, there's no reason why the court will not approve the minor's name change petition.

Domestic violence victims should always remember to change their social security numbers prior to seeking a name change and changing the name of their minors at the same time in case they also want to change the surnames of the children.

To start the process you need to request a packet of the Petition for change of Name of a Minor from the court clerk of your county. A temporary or legal guardian apart from a parent can request to change the name of a child.

The Change of Name of a Minor petition includes a number of forms such as Consent to Change Minor's Name, Application for Name Change of a Minor, Name Change Application Supplemental Affidavit, and Consent to Change of Name, Judgment Entry Setting Ordering and Hearing Notice, Parent Affidavit for Unknown Address, Certificate of Judgment Entry and Notice to Parent, among others. The packet is also accessible online in a number of counties.

You also need the child's original birth certificate or certified copy to add into your forms during the filing of the petition, which can be requested from the Ohio Department of Public Health in case the minor doesn't have one.

The name change application should be filled, indicating the minor and parents' name as well as the reason for the application. The Consent to Change Name of a Minor has to be filled before a court clerk or notary public, which every parent needs to fill giving permission for the change of name to continue.

In case the other guardian or parent cannot be located, the Affidavit for Unknown Address should be filled. Stick to the Ohio rules of attempting to locate the other parent before the petition has been filed, such as contacting the relatives, previous employers, and friends, child support enforcement agencies of the state, doctors and others who might know where the parent is.

The Supplementary Affidavit signed before the clerk of the court or notary public is the applicant's sworn statement indicating all the information provided is correct. The application can then be submitted to the probate court; the court will complete the order and hearing notice indicating the date the applicant will be appearing before the court/judge. The notice forms will also be distributed to other legal guardians and parents with the information of the court date, including the applicant of minor's name of change.

Within the 45 days after the application has been filed, you must publish the name change notice in a newspaper a month before the date of the hearing; if you skip the publication step the notice will not be accepted. From the newspaper you will get the Affidavit in Proof of Publication that has to be submitted, together with the clipping of the newspaper notice, before the judge. All the documents should be submitted to the magistrate on the hearing date as you answer all questions relating to the petition.

After the ruling, the judge will sign against the Certification of Judgment Entry form during the ruling approving the request. Get Certification of Judgment Entry certified copies from the clerk of the court and submit the certified copy in person or via mail to the Ohio Department of Health's vital statistics office in your local area.

Change of name on birth certificate

For anyone with a granted legal name change order born between December 20, 1908 and now, the Vital Statistics Office of the Ohio Department of Health will accept the name change court order and the birth record will be updated. It's a must for the court order to have been provided by an Ohio probate court. The new name will appear on the birth record after it has been updated exactly as it is in the court order.

Checklist for name change on Social Security, DMV, Passport

To effectively change your name with the various government bodies, have certified copies of a divorce decree, marriage certificate or a name change court order. You need to start changing your name with the Social Security Administration in person or via mail.

Once approved, sometimes after 2 days of receiving your request, approach, in person, the Deputy Registrar Office with the proof of your name change and updated Social Security Number card or name change record and pay the fee for the new driver's license.

You can continue using the passport as it was issued whether you've changed your names in various other places or not. As you travel abroad, use the current passport and always have a certified marriage certificate copy with you.

Those who had received passports within 12 months of their marriage or name change can request free replacement while those with over a year old passports have to pay renewal fees for new ones.

Name change with non-governmental institutions

Approach all insurance companies, financial institutions, your employer, and diverse institutions to request your professional documents updated with your new name. Start with your current employer to avoid mix-ups with income reporting to the IRS through your SSN (Social Security Number).

Recognized name change documents

  • Certified copy of marriage certificate for marriage name change
  • Certified copy of divorce decree for divorce name change
  • Court order for general adult name change
  • Proof of identity such as a driver's license or U.S. passport

Our name change kit helps you change your name, either before or after marriage.

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    • Hi. The Social Security Administration allows widows to return to their maiden name using a certified copy of their marriage certificate.

  1. If I want to move my maiden name to my middle name and take my husbands last name – do I just go to SSA for that? for example Jane Marie Doe and husband John James Smith and my new name would be: Jane Doe Smith. Or do I need to go through the courts…? Help!

  2. My fiance and I want to change our last name completely. Can we do that on the marriage license, or should he change his last name first?

    • Can we do that on the marriage license, or should he change his last name first?

      He should complete the name change beforehand and have an ID in that new name before applying for a marriage license.

  3. I'm in a dilemma here. My late husband passed away in 2016 and I am now remarried. My new husband wants me to take his last name but I am hesitant because I still have children school aged with their deceased fathers last name.

    Any advice on what I should do? I'd like to have both but not hyphenated. And also don't want to have to sign both last names for everything. Please help!

    • Hi Heather. Consider using your new married name informally. Not changing it legally. Just using it socially. At least until your children get older and might be comfortable with you changing your name for real.

        • Hi Heather. You could try, but it's unlikely to work, as the Ohio BMV may query the SSA database to confirm your new name before they change it on your driver's license.

  4. Hi. I was married in October 2020 in Ohio (also live in Ohio). Due to Covid closing the SSA offices to in person name changes, not wanting to mail my drivers license, and the overall delays the SSA seems to behaving, I am waiting to change my name.

    Covid permitting, my husband and I are doing our rescheduled Honeymoon in Hawaii in Sept 2021. Is there a deadline from our wedding date that I have to change my name by? Would like to wait until the end of 2021/ beginning of 2022 when hopefully in person name changes are allowed again. Thanks!

    • How much time do I have to change my name back.

      You have an unlimited amount of time to change your name after divorce.

    • Hi Bill. In Ohio, "new name" isn't listed on the marriage application, license, nor certificate. Just use the certificate as-is to facilitate a name change.

  5. I live in Ashtabula Co. I want to add my maiden name as a second middle name and adopt my husbands name as my last.
    Example: Jane Ann Doe to Jane Ann Doe Smith, so my initials would be Jane A D Smith, is this possible?

  6. I'm applying for marriage license this week – do I put my maiden (birth) name or my new name (future husband's last name)?

  7. My problem is my marriage license shows my maiden name. They didn't tell me to put down my husband's name so now I dont know if I can do a name change. Can I get a new marriage license? Thanks.

    • My problem is my marriage license shows my maiden name.

      You mean marriage certificate?

      They didn't tell me to put down my husband's name

      It's not an option on the application, so there's nothing to tell.

      so now I dont know if I can do a name change.

      Just use a certified copy of your marriage certificate.

      Can I get a new marriage license?

      If you're married, you can't get another marriage license. It's not necessary anyway.

      • I do mean marriage license. That's what I have, I'm not married yet. I don't know if I need to get a new license and throw away this one. From what you say I don't need to?

        • I don't know if I need to get a new license and throw away this one.

          Do not get a new marriage license. It's an unnecessary waste of time.

          From what you say I don't need to?

          No, you don't need a new marriage license. The one you have is sufficient. After you're married, get a certified copy of your Ohio marriage certificate to change your name with organization X, Y, and Z.

          Your new married name isn't going to appear on your marriage certificate. That's okay. You'll be able to change your name fine using the certificate as-is.

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