Post # 1
So we got our marriage license today. I went with the intent to keep my maiden name, but while we were processing the marriage license, the clerk strongly insisted I put down some version of my husband’s name just in case I ever want to use it. I was hesitant, but she repeatedly and adamantly said the name would just be “available” for me to use if I ever wanted, and that putting it on the marriage license did not, in and of itself, legally change my name. She said my name would still legally be my maiden name until I changed it at both SS and DMV. She said I could put a version of my husband-to-be’s name on the license and then opt to never file with SS or DMV, so in fact, my name would never really change. So, my question is, is this accurate? At exactly what point does a name change on a marriage license become in fact the new legal name? I caved and followed her advice, bur really, I don’t have any intent on changing my name. I’m worried this might cause me trouble if I have a legal document with a different name than I intend to use out there. I’m wondering if I need to go back in and change it before our ceremony. Thank you for any advice/info!
Post # 2
I think it depends on your state or country, but I’ve never heard that license = new name from any legitimate sources.
When we went down to the courthouse to file a few weeks before the wedding, and it came time to sign, I asked the lady if this had anything to do with my name change because I wasn’t sure what name to sign. She looked at me like I was crazy, told me this was a legal document, and to sign it with my legal name at the date of signing.
Which, duh — that makes a lot of sense! I felt so silly for suggesting that I sign with any name other than what was on my ID. Although obviously in other states/countries/time periods that must have been a thing.
So anyway, I am in Texas. Not sure what the system is in your state. But I know that here, you take your marriage license to the DMV and tell them you want to take your husband’s name. So they look at the license, see your husband’s name, and change your state ID surname to match it. Then you do the same thing with SS. At least, that’s what I’ve read. I haven’t changed my name.
But I don’t think the marriage license thing will ever cause problems. It’s just a piece of paper. The government has the documentation that shows your name and social security number marrying another name and SS number. Since marriage licenses are not ever a form of proof of identity, it doesn’t matter. As long as you have state ID, SS, and ideally passport and birth certificate in the same name, I can’t see any situation where this would become a problem.
Post # 3
Like PP said, the license rules are different in different counties/states. My marriage license is with my maiden name, as that was my name when we applied for the license. Signing under a different name could constitute fraud (since you technically aren’t named what you are signing as at that time).
That being said, your name is legally changed when you conduct legal steps at the Social Security Administration — you show proof of your marriage (marriage certificate) and fill our some paperwork. They change your name. They give you a piece of paper which you can use to update your name at the DMV and other places.
Post # 4
It’s probably different in the states but in Sweden you have to file your intended married name with the population register and the only legal document of your name change is an extract from that register, there’s no “marriage license” to hang on to from the actual wedding.
So even though there might be some differences it sounds pretty plausible to me that your name change needs to be reported in to social security etc to really come in to effect.
But anyway in the states I was under the impression you can change your name whenever you want so even if you wanted to take your husband’s name later you don’t Need to consider that now for the license?
Post # 5
For me, I signed my married name on the certificate, but my maiden on the license. I had to file under my maiden in order to get my married name. Because I wasn’t legally married yet.
Post # 6
She’s right as far as it goes in my state. You can put whatever you want on the marriage certficate then never use it up change your name. You could put Mickey Mouse for all anyone cares, if you dont take that to the SS office to get your name changed, it’ll never come into use. The only things that matters is what’s on your SS card, then ultimately your passport and licence should match that. (That how important that is is questionable too, I travelled with my maiden name for 3 years even after I updated my name and got a new SS card)
Post # 7
I’m sorry the clerk was so pushy, that sounds uncomfortable 🙁 I got married in Vermont, where there’s no place for new names on the certificate, only a space to write your maiden name. I’d consider the name change legal when you update your social security ID — although I had nearly a month between when I changed SS and when I got to the DMV to update my license, etc. Still haven’t done the passport!
Post # 8
In my state, your name isn’t changed until you go to social security.
Post # 9
Not legal until you change it on your Social Security Card
Post # 10
- Wedding: April 2016 - Manhattan, NY
As others have said, indicating that you would like to change to his last name on the marriage certificate essentially gives you legal permission to do so. If you never go to the social security office to change it on your SS card, then your name won’t be changed. Once you change the name on your social, you can then change it on everything else (license, bank accounts, etc.).
Post # 11
Your name is not changed until you process the change through social security.
Post # 12
Just to clarify. The name area in question is on our CA licenses where we have the ability to request a new middle/last name that we can use upon solemnization. I hadn’t intended to put anything there since I want to continue to use my maiden name. But I am hearing that ya’ll are confirming that it really takes going to SS/DMV to make that change official – which is what the clerk was telling me. She had given us some other misinformation we corrected her on, so I wasn’t feeling all that confident in this advice either. Thank you SO much to everyone!! I won’t rush down and reverse things since it sounds like indeed it won’t be official/legal unless I decide to ever take further action to change it. You all have been a great help!
Post # 13
I would see if you can talk to another clerk or do additional research on some more nuances with it. While it’s true that the legal name change part happens when you do the SS office and DMV, in some states the name you put on the marriage license is a “legal” intent to use that as your name, which means you are legally agreeing to make the change. Much like you have a certain amount of time to change your address with the DMV when you move, in some states you are legally *supposed* to use the name you stated on your license.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s unlikely they would come after you for this if you do not change your name, but if your marriage was ever called into question or if you had other legal issues then it could come up. I would make sure that what you put on your license is just an “option” and not what you are legally agreeing to use after marriage.
Post # 14
I am also from California and yes, that is how it worked for us. I believe the reason they encourage you to put your future husband’s name down is because it gives you the option to change your name down the road without paying. If you don’t put it on the license and decide later to change your name, you will have to pay a fee and go through the formal name change process through the court system (i.e. obtaining a court order).
Post # 15
The name change is definitely not legally binding unti you change it with Social Security.
I’m not from California, but having your first name with your husband’s last name on there may be helpful post-wedding if any people address checks assuming you are changing your name. I got married about 4 months ago and haven’t legally changed my name. As a result, we had a lot of trouble depositing checks made out to the two of us with DH’s last name. Being able to show a marriage certificate that actually has that name on there (as opposed to my state, where it only shows my maiden-and-legal-name) may be a big help in those scenarios.