Navigating Name Changes After Marriage

Exploring whether to change, keep, or blend your surname following your nuptials.

As a Woman About to Wed, Must I Adopt My Future Spouse’s Surname?

Absolutely not. The choice to retain your own surname, adopt your spouse’s, or even for your husband to take your name, is a personal decision and is legally allowed without needing a court-ordered name change. It becomes necessary to obtain such an order only if both you and your spouse wish to adopt a new surname that differs from either of your current last names. Take your time to decide on a surname that you’ll both be content with, as making this choice ahead of official record changes will save you both effort and potential complications.

What If We Desire a Combined or Completely New Surname?

A court order is necessary to legally endorse a newly hyphenated or entirely new surname. Many couples choose to merge their surnames with a hyphen, or even create a brand new one, incorporating elements from both original surnames. For instance, should Ellen Berman and Jack Gendler marry, they might opt for the surnames Berman-Gendler or a new creation like Bergen. Similarly, selecting a surname unconnected to your current ones due to preference is permissible. Although in the past a newly chosen surname could be established by regular usage, the current legal landscape calls for a formal court order to officialize a change that strays from either surname displayed on your marriage license. Note that the Department of Motor Vehicles and other agencies will typically only alter your name to reflect what is listed on your marriage certificate.

Opting to Take My Spouse’s Surname: How Do I Proceed?

Should you choose to assume your spouse’s surname after marriage, begin by using the new surname immediately. For consistency and legality, it’s crucial to update all forms of identification, accounts, and vital records with your new name. Key identification documents, such as your Social Security card and driver’s license, will necessitate a certified copy of your marriage certificate to effectuate the change. This certificate is typically mailed to you post-ceremony. Once obtained, present it at the local Social Security office and the DMV to have your name officially changed on their records.

When considering a name change after marriage, understand that you have multiple options and that The Law Office of J. Michael Clay is here to support you through the process. Call us today at 210-694-5205 or take advantage of our Free Consultation service to learn more about your choices and the necessary legal steps. We are committed to ensuring your transition into married life is smooth and legally sound.

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