A Complete Guide to Legal Name Change in Tennessee

A Complete Guide to Legal Name Change in Tennessee

Under statute 21-37 of the State of Tennessee, you can seek a name change through marriage, divorce, or normal child or adult name change. Whatever the reason for your change of name, the following information might help shed light on what lies ahead.

Marriage name change

Before you get married and use a marriage certificate to effect a name change in the State of Tennessee, apply for a marriage license first. To obtain a license for marriage, you need to meet specific requirements, such as your social security number (for those who have one) and proof of your date of birth using a certified copy of a birth certificate or government-issued photo identification. Appear together as a pair before any Tennessee county clerk's office, usually between eight in the morning and four in the afternoon, Monday through Friday (excluding federal holidays).

In case any of the applicants is below the age of 18, at least one parent must accompany them. In Tennessee, anyone who's 17 years old needs a court order to get married. Since May 21, 2018, state law banned marriage below age 17.

The marriage license fee varies, such as $99.50 in Nashville. The cost ranges between $98 and $108 across the state. Marriage license applicants who have completed a premarital preparation course within one year of the application date will pay $60 less. The course provider has to give the marriage license applicants a Certificate of Completion form, signed and completed. The signature of the course provider on the form has to be notarized.

The premarital preparation course is important for those who would like to save on the application fee and gain from programs geared towards making them ready for marriage. It's important for the applicants to provide a Certificate of Completion that has been notarized and completed by the provider of the course.

This indicates both parties attended the premarital course separately or together a year before applying for the marriage license in the county clerk's office. The course is generally a four hour training program developed by the Courts' Administrative Office.

You can pay the marriage license fee in cash. Various county clerk offices accept money orders, and debit or credit cards. Personal checks are the least accepted form of payment. Remember, the validity of your marriage license is 30 days after issuance and only valid for wedding ceremonies taking place in the state of Tennessee. License issuance is immediate, meaning you can get married the same day you apply.

In certain counties you can apply for a marriage license online as per the laid out instructions. Check whether this is allowed in your county. However, even in such a case, the application for the license has to be sworn to by each applicant.

A marriage can be solemnized in Tennessee by diverse persons under state law, such as ministers, rabbis, pastors, preachers, priests, and other leaders of all religious beliefs. As of 2021, Tennessee notaries may perform marriages following Governor Bill Lee's signing of Senate Bill 509. Only four other U.S. states grant this power to notary publics. Officiants must be above the age of 18.

Others allowed to officiate include former and current county legislative bodies' members, former and current executives and mayors of counties, former and current chancellors and judges of the state, former and current general sessions courts judges, former and current senate speakers and house of representative speakers, governor of the state, county clerks, as well as municipality mayors.

Marriage in the state of Tennessee is not controlled by common law, but statute. The state hardly recognizes common law marriages that have taken place in its jurisdiction, but recognizes all valid marriages completed under common law entered in other out-of-state jurisdictions that recognize marriages under common law.

To receive a certified copy of your marriage certificate after solemnizing your marriage, fill out the marriage license and submit it to the county clerk's office. Approach the same office of the county clerk with both names of the applicants, maiden name as well if applicable, the date when the marriage took place, and a fee of $15 for the certified copy. The request for a marriage certificate can be made via mail or in person. You can also request a certified copy from the Tennessee Vital Records office for $15.

You can then use the certified copy of your marriage certificate to change your name with various governmental and nongovernmental agencies, such as updating your social security card with the Social Security Administration, including updating your name on your state ID or driver's license. Don't be alarmed if your marriage certificate still shows your maiden name instead of your new married name. You'll still be eligible for name change through marriage.

There are a number of options to go with when it comes to changing your name after marriage. Let's discuss those next…


Simply hyphenate your last name with that of your husband.

Don't change your name

You can also let your name remain as it has always been since birth. Or as it now stands.

Maiden to middle

Use your marriage certificate to make your maiden name the middle name before taking the last name of your spouse.

Husband adopting the name of the wife

In the state of Tennessee, a husband can adopt the name of his wife, but not through marriage; it must be accomplished via other legally acceptable processes, such as general adult name change through the court.

Divorce name change

If you intend to revert to your maiden name after divorce in Tennessee, the process is not complicated. The easy way is ensuring that your request is included in the divorce petition. In case the husband has filed the petition for divorce, the wife can—through the answer to the request for divorce by the husband—ask the court to change her name and restore any previous name.

The decision to revert to your maiden name after divorce is an emotional one and legal at the same time, since you don't really have to. Changing your last name doesn't affect the last name of your children who are carrying the name of your ex-husband. It's also important to note you cannot be forced by an ex-husband or ex-spouse to change or not change your name.

The request to revert to a maiden name on the divorce petition can be as brief as possible. Even after the judge has allowed the change, the language will be similar and brief as well. The state of Tennessee allows for post-judgment divorce decree changes in case you forgot to ask the court to revert you to a previous name, or if the judge has omitted it in the final decree. Get an original or a certified copy of your divorce decree as proof of your name change.

Once your divorce decree has been finalized and allows you to change your name, go ahead and make the changes official by changing your name with the Social Security Administration and the Tennessee Driver Service Center to update your driver's license.

Remember, you can still change your name way after your divorce was finalized and you didn't request the court to factor in a reversion to a maiden name. Simply approach the office of the court clerk of your county and ask for the requirements. Counties in Tennessee have different instructions, including mandatory attorney representation in counties, such as Rutherford.

General adult name change

Anyone who's 18 years of age in Tennessee can request a name change if it's not in hindrance of public interest. Nonetheless, certain individuals cannot change their names as per the law of the state, such as those appearing in the registry of sex offenders or those convicted of a second or first degree murder charge. Your change of name must be completed in the county court where you reside.

Find the court closest to you and confirm the court handles changes of names. File a name change petition with the office of the court clerk in the county, circuit, or probate court. Have a Tennessee photo ID copy, original copy of your birth certificate, and social security card. Remember to bring these documents to your local court when requesting the Affidavit of Name Change, Order Allowing Name Change, and Petition for Adult Change of Name.

As you complete the name change petition, ensure you have filled in your name as it appears on your birth certificate, date of birth and birthplace, the reason for your name change, and the new name you would like to adopt. The petition shouldn't be signed at this point.

You also need to have the Affidavit of Name Change form's bottom section filled out; don't date or sign it at this time. Ensure you have added your phone number and home address as well. The Order Allowing Name Change can be completed with such details as your requested name, current name, birth date, and place of birth. You can go on and sign the order, as you also include your phone number and address. Avoid signing against the "Chancellor" line.

The affidavit and petition should then be signed before the clerk of the court who will then have your signature notarized. The clerk will then take the order as well as copies of your identification, including the other filing documents.

There is a fee to be paid and varies a lot from one county in Tennessee to another. After the judge has signed the order, your name change will be marked completed. Depending on the procedure of the court, you might be asked to appear in a hearing before the judge.

Child name changes

Parents in the state of Tennessee can change the name of a minor legally with each parent giving consent if the court finds the reasons to be in the best interest of the child. The petition can be filed in the circuit court within your county of residence where the name change will be verified and requested. To legally complete the change of name, a court order has to be sought to authorize a name change with the Social Security Administration and birth certificate of the minor.

Start the process by going for a minor name change petition and affidavit of verification forms from the clerk of the circuit court within the county where you live. The name change petition should be completed, including the affidavit of verification, with both forms also signed by each of the parents as they appear on the birth certificate of the child. The verification form should be signed before a notary public.

The petition, filing fees, and notarized verification should be submitted to the clerk of the circuit court. The parents' social security cards and birth certificate copies need to be provided, including those of the child. Photo IDs of the parents also have to be provided, such as passports or driver's licenses.

Once the hearing has been scheduled, you need to attend as required, including the minor and other parent. The facts should then be provided before the judge to persuade the court that the name change is in the best interest of the minor. If the judge agrees with the reasons for the name change, they will grant the name change order.

The circuit court clerk will provide you with the court order's certified copy. Use it to complete the name change process with the vital records office of Tennessee and your nearest Social Security Administration office.

Name change on birth certificate

After a legal name change in a Tennessee court, a birth certificate can be amended by the provision of a certified copy of the original court order confirming a successful legal name change. The required fee for the amendment is about $30. Certified copies of the new birth certificate with the new name can be availed for an extra fee. A Tennessee name change court order is sufficient to change a name on an out-of-state birth certificate.

Governmental institutions name change

Once you have a legal name change order, approach the Social Security Administration office for a name change on your social security card. Remember to bring the name change order, SS-5 form dully completed, and driver's license for the State of Tennessee, or passport including proof of U.S. citizenship.

Once Social Security has updated your name, approach the Driver Service Center in your locality with your name change order, social security card or passport, and a fee of $8 to $16 for a brand-new driver's license bearing your new name.

Non-governmental institutions

You should also update your name with your insurance provider, financial institution such as bank, employer, and credit card providers, as well as on your professional and academic documents if the need be.

Documents need for name change

To change your name you will need certified copies of:

  • Marriage certificate to complete a marriage name change.
  • Divorce decree to continue with a divorce name change.
  • Court order to complete a general adult name change in Tennessee.

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

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  1. It has been discovered that my granddaughter's biological father is not who is listed on her birth certificate. We would like to proceed changing her last name and removing his name from her birth certificate. Please offer advice to complete this task.

    Currently, the listed sperm donor and Mom have amicable relations. However, should it deteriorate upon him learning he is not the father and he refuses to participate, what will be needed?

    The child is soon to be four and we believe severing ties completely and immediately is in the child's best interest. We would like it to be that the child does not need to attend court.

    • Hi Barbara. Please excuse the late reply. If the mother and assumed biological father were unmarried when the child was born, then the mother doesn't need his consent or participation to change her child's name.

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