How to Change Your Name If a Marriage Certificate Does Not Have Your Married Name

By Laura Payet

How to Change Your Name If a Marriage Certificate Does Not Have Your Married Name

By Laura Payet

Changing your legal name after marriage is simple if your married name is on your marriage certificate. In that case, you usually must submit a certified copy of the certificate to the Social Security Administration along with an application for a new Social Security card and other supporting documentation. But when your new married name is not on the marriage certificate, typically you must petition a local court for an order permitting you to make the change.

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1. Obtain a copy of a petition for name change form.

Although the law varies among states, to adopt your married name you likely need to file a petition for a name change or another similar form with your county court. You can usually find out how your state handles name changes by checking your state government website. There, you can typically obtain copies of any forms you need as well as find out which court you need to go to. If you can't locate the forms you need online, you can go to the court clerk's office and ask for them.

Check to be sure your state permits you to change your name. Some states, such as Illinois, restrict name changes for people convicted of certain crimes or required to register as a sex offender.

2. Complete the petition and collect the necessary documents.

Fill out the petition form completely, sign it, and have your signature notarized if necessary. Your state may require you to submit additional materials with your petition, such as evidence of state residence, documentation regarding any criminal convictions, or evidence of your current identity. Copies of your driver's license or birth certificate usually suffice. You may also want to include a certified copy of your marriage certificate. It's a good idea to make at least one extra copy of your completed petition and additional paperwork so that you have a copy of everything you give the court.

3. File the petition.

Take your completed petition, any additional supporting documents, and your copies to the court clerk's office. When you submit your materials, you usually also have to pay a filing fee. The clerk will date stamp your petition and assign a case number. Ask for a copy of the stamped petition if you aren't given one. The clerk will also schedule a hearing for you before the judge if your state requires it. You may have to be patient—it can take weeks to months to have your hearing, depending on your state's rules and how busy the court is.

4. Comply with any publication requirements.

Some states mandate that you publish notice of your intended name change in local newspapers to give interested parties the opportunity to object. In some states, you may be able to avoid this requirement by submitting a certified copy of your marriage certificate with your petition. If you have been convicted of a felony or are on a sex offender registry, you may also have to give notice to the state Department of Corrections, the Sex Offender Registry Board, the prosecutor's office, or other state agencies as well. You must pay the newspaper the publication fees and submit proof of publication to the court.

5. Attend your hearing.

Attend your scheduled hearing and appear before the judge. She will likely ask you to explain the reason for your proposed name change. If the judge approves your petition, she will issue an order permitting the change. Obtain several certified copies of this order from the court clerk—and pay any required fees—to use in updating your Social Security card, driver's license, passport, and any other form of ID you have.

To get started on your name change and ensure you comply with your state's procedures, you may want to consult an online service provider.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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