Name Change After Marriage in Virginia

57 Comments
Yellow Rusted Virginia Road Sign

To legally change your name in Virginia after adoption, divorce, marriage or simply to take up a name that defines who you are, there are specific procedures you need to follow in the state. The forms you need to use to complete the process will vary a little depending on whether you are a child or an adult as well as the reason.

Marriage name change

Marriage is one of the reasons why you are probably seeking a new name. Once you are through with the wedding and have received your marriage certificate, approach the Social Security Administration and other institutions to have your social security card have the new name adopted.

After marriage there is no need of filing a petition for a legal name change in a court of law. To adopt the best name after marriage, there are a number of options you can look into…

Hyphenate

You can decide not to drop your name for any reason and rather hyphenate both your spouse's and your name. This helps you make the most of the two without losing your established identity.

Maiden to middle

Sometimes dropping your maiden name is very hard and you would like to honor it as much as you can. You can do this by ensuring your maiden name is at the middle while the surname of the spouse is at the end.

Sometimes you might be an only child or childless in your marriage and you don't want to hurt your parents feelings by dropping the maiden name. This should be a wonderful compromise.

Husband adopting wife's name

You can also talk with your attorney to see whether you can take your wife's surname without going through the standard legal adult name change process but using the marriage change of name procedure.

Keep your name

The straightforward and easiest way is to simply keep your name as you received it at birth. You might save trips to the department of motor vehicle, fees and paperwork that follows a name change process.

Take husband's name

The most natural name change for a bride is taking the name of the husband after marriage. You only need to provide the marriage certificate and any required document such as a state or government provided ID and you can have the name changed fast.

New/unique last name

If you really want a new life with a new name after marriage you can definitely come up with a new and unique name that both the bride and groom can adopt after marriage. This is important for those seeking more equality and a fresh start in as many areas of their life as possible. However, this does require petitioning the court.

Divorce name change

Marriages do not always work out and a divorce might be a good idea to start a new life. Returning to a previous name or the maiden name might be what you are thinking about to try and put the past associated with the surname of your would be ex-husband behind.

The easiest way of changing your name after divorce is doing it as a part of the divorce petition. However, if you didn't have the chance to include change of name clause in the petition you can always independently change your name as an adult in Virginia.

The final divorce decree should state clearly that you can return to a previous name or maiden name. File the change of name paperwork together with the other documents including the final divorce decree. A small fee might be charged apart from the filing fee to cater for the divorce, which is usually about $21 but can change at any given time.

If you decide to request name change as a part of an ongoing divorce petition final divorce proceedings orally or at the initial pleadings, you do not need to separately apply for a name change and divorce. In case you want to change your name before you have entered into a divorce's final order, before initiating a divorce petition or after the divorce suit is over, you will need a separate application where the court will give you a different name change order.

After having the name change approved after the divorce, complete the name change process by contacting various governmental and nongovernmental bodies to effect the change on your documents such as credit cards, social security card, passport, banks and driver's license, including your employer perhaps through the Human Resource department so that your paycheck is made out to the right name.

General adult name change

In Virginia it's possible to have your name changed without a court hearing. Nonetheless, formal court proceedings might be needed in certain cases mostly if there is some kind of an objection to the name change request.

The papers that the Court Clerk receives will be a determinant factor to whether a court hearing is needed. If your petition or background is illegal, outrageous. or fraudulent and there are objections to the name change petition you've submitted, the Court Clerk will indicate to you a court hearing is required. However, the Clerk might just transfer the name change request for approval to the court/judge.

To change your name as an adult in Virginia you must meet certain requirements. Firstly, you must be a resident of the County or City in the Commonwealth of Virginia where you intend to file the petition for a name change and must have lived there for the last six months.

The petition has to be filed in your city or county's Circuit Court where you reside. It's also worth noting you must be an adult or above 18 years of age to file for a name change. The petitioner must have a reasonable and proper cause for requesting for a name change and not to defraud creditors or avoid debts, among other reprehensible reasons.

Fill out the name change application with the required information from birth/full name, the new name you intend to adopt, parental information, and certification showing the change is not for nefarious purposes, and address. The form shouldn't be signed yet.

The next thing is ensuring the application has been notarized by bringing the application you have completed to a notary public where you will sign it. The notary will then attest to the signature and a small fee might be required by the notary for the service rendered. Find notaries in such places as law offices, UPS store, post offices, and banks, among other places.

Take the duly completed documents to court, generally the application and two copies, fees, cover sheet, an envelop dully stamped and self addressed, and other supporting paperwork to the circuit court. The instruction forms need to be checked well, which will be submitted with the application materials to ensure everything has been completed as required. The Court Clerk will let you know if any extra information is needed to complete the application.

Sometimes the court might grant a change of name on the documents without a need for you to appear in court. But, you should always be ready to appear in court, which usually happens if there are objections to the petition. If there's an objection to the proceedings or the court has reasons to believe the name change might be for a nefarious reason, a hearing will be ordered by the court and you have no choice but attend. You might want to have an attorney with you if a hearing is ordered by the court.

Once you have received a name change order showing the process was a success, go ahead and let the Social Security Administration know so that your social security card can bear the new name, including other agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and IRS, as well as nongovernmental organizations.

Child name change

Parents can change a minor's name in Virginia through the state's circuit court where the child is a resident. In case both parents have agreed to the change of name, the process will be very easy and fast.

A signed application will be required including appearing before the circuit court. While it's not mandatory for the parent to indicate the reason for the name change on the minor name change application, the change has to be in the best interest of the child under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

You need to go to the Virginia Circuit Court in the county where the child is a resident and come with a certified copy of the birth certificate of the minor. Request for the Order for Change of Child's Name and Change of Name of a Minor and fill them accordingly.

Certain information will be requested in the forms, which include date of birth, full name of the minor, the full new name to be adopted, and the address. Also required is the address of the parent or legal guardian requesting a name change, as well as the relationship of the individual to the child. Addresses and names of both parents of the minor will also be needed. In case the minor has a criminal past, you must indicate so on the forms.

If possible, both biological parents of the child need to join in the application. It's required that the other parent be served with the application to change the name of the child as a notice so that the court can order a hearing in case the other parent objects to the petition. The hearing can be waived if the applicant can convince the court that notifying the other parent might threaten the wellbeing of the minor if the proposed name change was found out.

The application should also be notarized by a notary public where you have to sign the documents before the notary. A small fee might be requested as the notary attests to the signature you have provided.

The cover sheet, copies of application, self addressed enveloped, and fees, including any supporting documents should be taken to court. Ensure that you have met all the requirements and everything has been completed in the best way possible. In case of any additional information, the Court Clerk will let you know.

Once the court has approved the change of name after the hearing, the self-addressed and stamped letter will be used to send the signed order to the address indicated. The process might take 60 days or so and only when the signed order is in your hands will the name change be official.

Change of name on birth certificate

Once you have completed the name change process, approach the Virginia Office of Vital Records for a change of name on the birth certificate. There are fees to be paid and a 12 week wait from the date the request is made before you're responded to.

The Virginia Office of Vital Records is usually very busy between February and September and you are requested to allow enough time to get your request.

Name change on Social Security, DMV, Passport, IRS

The first thing you need to do after receiving your name change order signed by the court is approaching the Social Security Administration to change your name even before you approach Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle. This also applies to marriage name changes using the marriage certificate.

The change can be done in person or through mail. What you need is a legal proof of name change such as court order, divorce decree or marriage certificate. You also need a proof of identity such as driver's license, ID card, or unexpired U.S. passport, including proof that you are a citizen of the United States, such as a valid U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate.

Change the name of your ID card or driver's license in Virginia by visiting the Virginia DMV office in your locality in person, carrying Form DL 1P or Drivers License and ID Card Application including a proof of change of name such as a court order, divorce decree, or marriage certificate.

Approach the various governmental bodies such as IRS with the same request. Non-governmental institutions should also be approached for a change of name, institutions such as insurance companies, and financial institutions like your bank, HR department to change your name with your employer, and even in professional documents such as car title and registration certificates and land deeds.

Documents you need to change your name

  • Certified copy of your marriage certificate to change name through marriage
  • Certified copy of your divorce decree to change your name via divorce
  • Court order to change your name as an adult
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship and Identity

57 Comments

  1. Belinda

    I applied for a marriage license but it's only showing my maiden name. I want to hyphenate so how am I gonna do that if it's not showing the hyphenated name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I applied for a marriage license but it's only showing my maiden name.

      That's to be expected, because Virginia marriage license applications don't provide spots to specify a new name after marriage.

      I want to hyphenate so how am I gonna do that if it's not showing the hyphenated name?

      Your marriage license showing your maiden name isn't going to prevent you from hyphenating. You're fine.

      Reply
      1. Belinda

        So I'll just use my marriage license for the DMV name change? Do I need to show anything else?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Belinda. You'll have to use your marriage certificate to complete a name change, not your marriage license. Furthermore, make sure it's a certified copy.

          Reply
  2. Elsa

    I got married last year. My husband's ex wife never took his last name while they were married. Now she has started going by his last name. Can someone change their name to their ex spouses name after a divorce?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Now she has started going by his last name.

      Is it possible she's going by it informally?

      Can someone change their name to their ex spouses name after a divorce?

      Yes, if the divorce decree includes such an allowance. If not, she could have changed her name by petitioning the court. She even could have gone to the SSA to complete a belated married name change by pretending the divorce never happened.

      Reply
        1. Valera

          What do you mean such an allowance?

          By allowance, I'm referring to the judge including an order in the finalized divorce decree that would have allowed her to take her ex's last name.

          There is no mention of name in it.

          Well, then that answers that.

          She could have gone to court, but it would have been far easier just to waltz into the SSA with her defunct marriage certificate in hand and request a regular marriage name change. No one would be the wiser.

          Of course, this is just speculation.

          Reply
  3. G

    Does the name change of taking the husband name after marriage need to happen within a certain time period or can it happen a year after the ceremony?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Does the name change of taking the husband name after marriage need to happen within a certain time period

      It doesn't matter when the name change takes place. One month. One year. Ten years. It doesn't need to fall between any particular time frame.

      Reply
  4. Rose E Schaaf

    If I wait to change my name after marriage by say 2 months is there an additional charge to do so

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Rose. It doesn't matter how long you wait to start your name change. It doesn't affect anything, better or worse.

      Reply
  5. J

    I got married January of this year. The marriage certificate has my maiden name. Is it too late to take my husband’s last name? If not, how do I go about changing my last name to his? Does it require any court order since our marriage certificate only shows my maiden name? Can I just go to SSA and have my last name changed using the marriage certificate (which shows my maiden name)? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      The marriage certificate has my maiden name.

      That's to be expected.

      Is it too late to take my husband’s last name?

      No.

      If not, how do I go about changing my last name to his?

      Use a certified copy of your Virginia marriage certificate.

      Does it require any court order since our marriage certificate only shows my maiden name?

      You don't need a court order.

      Can I just go to SSA and have my last name changed using the marriage certificate (which shows my maiden name)?

      Yes, you can.

      Reply
  6. Maryanne Johnson

    I was married a year ago and took my husband’s last name. I’ve decided I want to hyphenate my name now to hold on to the last name my son had. I lost him tragically in 2018 and he was my only son. Will I have to petition the court to hyphenate my previous last name with my husband’s last name since I currently have his last name already? How do I go about hyphenating my name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maryanne. I'm sorry for your loss. You would have to go to court to hyphenate your name. You must file an adult name change petition in the circuit court within your independent city or county of your residence.

      Reply
  7. Julia

    My fiancé and I are getting married in a few weeks. We want to both change our names to a completely new one. How/when do we petition the court to do this? Do we write in this new name on our marriage license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How/when do we petition the court to do this?

      File separate petitions at your circuit court. It can be done anytime. Before or after marriage.

      Do we write in this new name on our marriage license?

      Write your current legal name at the time you apply for a marriage license.

      Reply
  8. Anonymous

    Just got married today. The clerk said i could drop my middle name but seemed a little unsure. I just want to make sure this was correct that you can drop your middle name and take husband's last name.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I just want to make sure this was correct that you can drop your middle name and take husband's last name.

      Yes, you can.

      Reply
  9. Page

    Im getting married in a couple of weeks and want to take my fiance's last name but i also want to keep my middle name and just drop my first name how do i do that? Am i going to have to change my name twice or will they just let me do it that way?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Page. You can't change your first name through marriage in Virginia. You'll have to go to court.

      Reply
  10. Renee

    In Virginia, are you allowed to have two, non-hyphenated last names? I am getting married and do not want to lose my maiden name. But I also do not necessarily want a hyphenated last name. I was hoping to just add a second last name, but I know the rules differ from state to state.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      are you allowed to have two, non-hyphenated last names?

      The SSA would allow it, but the Virginia DMV would likely scoff.

      Reply
  11. Lori

    My divorce was finalized nearly four years ago. At the time, I chose not to return to my maiden name because of my daughter. Now that she's older, and for my own personal reasons, I'm ready to return to my maiden name. Do I need to file for an amendment to my divorce decree? Or just start from scratch with a name change application?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to file for an amendment to my divorce decree? Or just start from scratch with a name change application?

      If your divorce decree contains a line restoring your maiden name, you wouldn't have to file for an amendment. If not, you may have to.

      Although the SSA would restore your maiden name without a restoration order, other institutions are unlikely to be as flexible. That's why it's important to have that line in place to make sure you don't face a roadblock when changing.

      Reply
  12. Anna

    I married a Hispanic, and he has two last names as is customary in his culture (They take both the paternal and maternal last names). I want to change my name but only want to take his paternal last name. Will I have problems in the DMV?

    Reply
  13. Brittanie

    I got married in Washington DC, how would I go about legally changing my name in Va could I just go thru the social security office?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      could I just go thru the social security office?

      Right. Just bring your marriage certificate with you.

      Reply
  14. Chelle

    I got married and after my last license renewal the DMV made me keep my first name so now I have 4 names on my license. I have always gone by my middle name.

    My SS card and Passport use my middle, maiden and husband's last name. DMV still made me use my first because it was on my birth certificate. I have called Richmond and discussed with managers multiple times with no luck.

    It is time to renew and get REAL ID and I just know they will be giving me a hard time again. Richmond, VA home office did tell me I have to legally drop my first name in the courts. Is this true? Why would federal docs allow it and Virginia not?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Chelle. Your social security card omitted your first name? That's odd considering SSA's operating manual explicitly forbids it unless it's authorized by a valid name change event.

      The Virginia DMV will not change your first name unless you can supply a document proving your name was dropped.

      As for what happened federally, could you detail how you were able to accomplish what you did?

      Reply
      1. Chelle

        Thank you for your reply. I am finding that this process seems easier for those that go by their first names instead of middle names.

        Isn't a marriage a valid name change event?

        Yes SS omitted my first name after marriage since I am called by my middle name. It was back in 2000 so not sure if rules were different then. I know I provided my old SS card with birth certificate and marriage certificate.

        My passport was issued 7 years ago and I showed SS, birth certificate, marriage certificate and drivers license. I don't remember a discussion but I must have told them I don't use my first name since marriage and I am sure I explained that DMV made me use it anyway at last renewal because I provided it as an ID.

        Example: (Maiden) Alexa Doreen Smith – I go by Doreen and got married to a Reynolds. I am Doreen Smith Reynolds on SS and Passport and sign name as Doreen S. Reynolds. DMV however made me use Alexa Doreen Smith Reynolds.

        Guess with the information you provided above it may be best to go to the court to drop the first name in another official way.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          this process seems easier for those that go by their first names instead of middle names.

          Agreed.

          Isn't a marriage a valid name change event?

          For modifying a middle and/or last name. Not first.

          It was back in 2000 so not sure if rules were different then.

          Perhaps. Their operations manual (POMS) is an evolving document. Or perhaps the clerk who processed your paperwork made a mistake.

          Guess with the information you provided above it may be best to go to the court to drop the first name in another official way.

          Makes sense. The issue you're facing is the split between federal and state. The DMV may want to match what the SSA has on file, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll abide by the flexibility that institution provides. They'll sync for most use cases, but a split could emerge when their rules don't line up.

          Reply
  15. Danielle

    Hi. So I go by my middle name and want to keep my maiden name. I am already married and everything just need to go get everything changed over but I want to drop my first name all together because I do not use it at all.

    What do I need to do?? Sadly This is my second marriage and I have already done this before and had to change everything back but it was a while ago and I do not remember what I needed to do to drop my first name and use my middle name as my first name then maiden then husbands last name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Danielle. You'll have to petition your circuit court to change your first name.

      Reply
  16. Tayler

    If you try to change your name and it's past 60 days, do you need to do anything else of can I still just send my application to Social Security office with everything else required?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tayler. The 60-day reference pertains to child name changes. Are you referring to that? If so, that's an estimate of how long it'll take to receive the court order. Once you have that in hand, you can change the child's name.

      If you were referring to something else, please clarify.

      Reply
  17. Cady Walker

    I am applying for a name change in Arlington County, VA because I just got married. However, the application doesn't say to include my marriage license. That seems to be contradictory to everything I have read online. Am I missing something? Am I in the wrong place? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Cady. Are you saying you're applying for a court-petitioned name change after marriage? If so, that shouldn't be necessary. Use your marriage certificate as-is to complete your name change.

      Reply
      1. Cady Walker

        Thank you! Do I not need to complete a court petitioned name change after marriage? Or do I just include the marriage certificate? Thanks again!

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Cady. You don't need to petition the court. Use your Virginia marriage certificate as-is to change your name with the SSA, VA DMV, passport, etc.

          Reply
      2. Cady Walker

        Also, to note: my marriage certificate still has my maiden name as it didn't ask me what new name I wanted or if I wanted to take my spouse's last name.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          my marriage certificate still has my maiden name as it didn't ask me what new name I wanted

          That's a non-issue. Your certificate is still good for use.

          Reply
  18. Alison

    I just got married and I am wanting to change my last name to my husbands, however, I want to move my last name to be my second middle name so I’ll have my first name, original middle name+maiden name and then new last name. Do I need to petition the name change in court if I want to do that?

    Reply
      1. Alison

        I have been going through the process still with SSA and it has been a pain. I made an appointment at the DMV, but am still waiting on SSA to scan my documents and process it. Do I need to have everything officially changed with SSA before going to the Virginia DMV? I read that in some states you can do the DMV first and then SSA, but meaning that SSA didn't need to be complete yet, but wasn't sure what VA rule was…

        Reply
  19. Jam

    I got married July 25, 2020 in VA and have moved to Alabama. Does it matter if I send my info to the VA SSA office or the Alabama SSA office to request name change after marriage?
    Jam

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Does it matter if I send my info to the VA SSA office or the Alabama SSA office to request name change after marriage?

      No, but you should send it to your local Alabama office.

      Reply
  20. Jam

    I am contemplating between three possible options for name change. I was wondering if each of these options are easily allowed, or if court filing is necessary for one or more of the options:

    Option A: keep original first name, change middle name to maiden name, and adopt Husband's last name.

    Option B: Keep orginal first name, keep middle name PLUS Maiden name as second part of middle name, then Adopt Husband's Last name.

    Option C: Keep original First name & Original Middle name, use hyphenated last name (Maiden-husband's last name).

    Please give any advice for each option. Thanks.

    Reply
  21. Morgan

    I'm planning to get married and I would like to take my soon to be husbands last name but I would also like to change my first name to something else. Is that possible to do? What things would I need to complete to get this done?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I would also like to change my first name to something else. Is that possible to do? What things would I need to complete to get this done?

      Court petitioned name change is for first name changes. Last name alone can be done through marriage. However, if you're adamant about changing both, you can save time by doing both through court.

      Reply
  22. Nicole

    Hi, I got married in Virginia in April of 2017 but we live in California now and I'm a Colorado resident (military life). I put my maiden name on our marriage certificate. Can I change my last name to my husbands through SSA and all the other steps, or do I need to go through a process of appealing to change my name? And if so, what state do I do that in? Thanks!

    Reply

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