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If you’re a man and want to adopt your wife’s last name, now it’s legal, in California for a marriage name change, without having to pay the fees and costs to go through a Superior Court Name Change.
Prior to 2009, in California, a woman could change her name, without additional cost, by writing in a new middle and/or last name on her California Marriage Application form. But, a man could not change his names the same way until AB 102 passed and was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger. When that happened, California became the 7th State to allow Name Change through marriage in a gender neutral way.
Although called the Name Equality Act of 2007, it wasn’t effective until January 1, 2009. And, the new law also allowed same-sex couples to change their names, via domestic partnership (not marriage), at the time they were entering into that commitment and without additional costs for court. The upshot of this all was to allow men and same-sex couples to change their names the same way that only prospective opposite-sex wives were allowed to do before the Act. This represents a leveling of the playing field when it comes to the costs of Name Change. Prior to the Name Equality Act of 2007, same-sex couples and prospective husbands could only change their names through the Superior Court Name Change Petition process, for which the applicant would have to pay court filing and public notice advertising fees. Now the name change can be accomplished as part of the marriage or domestic partnership, and without additional costs or fees. But, you have to do it at the time of the marriage or partnership, not later.
This Marriage Name Change opportunity for California couples entering into marriage or domestic partnership doesn’t cover every possible type of Name Change however. The new marriage or domestic partnership avenues don’t let either person change their first name. They can change their middle and/or last names, but only within certain types of variations.
Under the new Act, there’s a space in the forms for each person applying to include the new name they have chosen, providing the name changes aren’t meant to defraud anyone. Of course, there’s no requirement for either person to change names, but space to do so if they wish. Changing one’s name through this process can only be done at the time the marriage license is issued by the County Clerk or authorized Notary Public, as applicable. The further limitations for name change choices under the act are:
Each party to the marriage may adopt any of the following last names:
Each party to the marriage may adopt any of the following middle names:
Persons desiring to change their first name must do so by obtaining a court ordered name change through the superior court, pursuant to Title 8 (commencing with Section 1275) of Part 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
Parties to a marriage may not add to or amend this information after the marriage license has been issued, except through the Superior Court Petition process as described above.
Nothing about this new Act takes away accessibility to Name Change through Superior Court Petition or Name Change through usage. Rather, it’s just another option available to people who may fit these expanded categories.
Legal Name Change is available to all Californians, not just those who are included in the Name Equality Act of 2007. Thousands of people file Name Change Petitions every year, in every Superior Court, and in all 58 California Counties. Anyone over 18 can file their own Name Change Petition, and those under 18 can have their Petition filed by a parent, guardian or other responsible adult if they’re not already emancipated.
Many more questions and answers about Legal Name Change can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section at EZNamechange.com.
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