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Marriage Name Change Options, New Laws to Allow More Options

If you’re a man and want to adopt your wife’s last name, or a hyphenated version of both names, now it’s legal in California. Marriage Name Change equality is now legal for men at the time of marriage, just as it has been for women. Likewise, Name Change After Marriage for Men is the same as it is for women.

Name Change After Marriage for Men and Women

The Name Equality Act of 2007

Prior to 2009, a California woman could change her name without additional cost, by writing in a new middle and/or last name (with certain limitations) on her California Marriage Application form. But, a man could not. That is, not until AB 102 passed and was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger. Thus, 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. 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 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 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 (with certain limitations) as part of a marriage or domestic partnership. To get this benefit, you have to do it at the time of the marriage or partnership, not later.

Same Choices – Same Limitations

This Name Change after Marriage for Men and Women opportunity doesn’t cover every possible type of Name Change however. The new law doesn’t let a person change their first name. First name changes after marriage can still be done through a regular Petition for Change of Name, just not through your marriage license. You can change your middle and/or last names, but only within certain types of variations. The new law expands your options, but with limits. Opposite sex and same sex marriages, and husbands and wives are all afforded the same name-change choices through the marriage license. The same rules apply in reverse then too, meaning men and women can go back to a pre-marriage name through the divorce court name change rules (see California Family Code, sections 2080-2082).

What are the Choices – What are the Limitations

Under the new Act, there’s to be 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:

  • The current last name of the other spouse.
  • The last name of either spouse given at birth.
  • A name combining into a single last name all or a segment of the current last name or the last name of either spouse given at birth.
  • A hyphenated combination of last names.

Each party to the marriage may adopt any of the following middle names:

  • The current last name of either spouse
  • The last name of either spouse given at birth
  • A hyphenated combination of the current middle name and the current last name of the person or spouse.
  • A hyphenated combination of the current middle name and the birth last name of the person or spouse.

Name Change After Marriage for Men and Women – Changes and Corrections

Persons desiring to change their first name must do so by obtaining a court ordered name change through the superior court, pursuant to Part 3 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, Title 8 (commencing with Section 1275). You can change your name after turning in your marriage license, only by court order.

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. Name Change after marriage for men is relatively new. Men can now use divorce court to change their own name, just like women could before the Act. Men and Women can still also use the Petition process in Superior Court to change names at any time they want.

Name Change after Marriage for Men, Women and Children

Your choices for getting your name, or your child’s name, have never been so available. Isn’t it time? So, if you’ve been thinking about it — maybe for too long — step up and start the process. charges an industry low $115 for a Ready-To-File Petition, complete with EZ step-by-step instructions and other helpful information.

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