California Name Equality Act

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What is the California Name Equality Act?

The Name Equality Act of 2007 was passed in California regarding name change rights in relation to marriages.  The act grants the parties in a marriage the specific right to choose the name that each party will be referred to after the marriage.  This is generally indicated through the marriage license issued in connection with the marriage ceremony.

Thus, a husband is allowed to adopt the last name of their new wife, and vice-versa.  This law therefore eliminates the need for a separate name changing proceeding for unique or otherwise non-conventional name changes at the time of a person’s marriage. 

Subsequent California legislation now allows such changes to also be reflected on the person’s driver’s license and other identifying documents. 

When Does the California Name Equality Act Apply?

The Name Equality Act of 2007 applies only to marriage licenses and marriages performed on or after the date of January 1, 2009.  Thus, marriages that were performed prior to this date are not subject to the California Name Equality Act.  Thus, a couple that was married prior to January 1, 2009, may have various issues if they seek a name change or other related procedure.

What if I Seek to Have a Name Change in Other States?

The Name Equality Act only applies to California marriages.  If the couple resides in California, but has their marriage performed in a different state or country, they may have to follow different rules for obtaining a name change after marriage.  For instance, some states require that a person file a specific petition for obtaining a name change. 

Other areas also require notification in a local newspaper if a person is going to change their surname.  This all depends on the individual laws and rules of the area.  Name changes after divorce may also be different than in California. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With the California Name Equality Act?

The Name Equality Act is a very specific law pertaining to name changes and marriage.  There are other similar California laws that may affect your rights as a California citizen.  You may wish to contact a qualified California attorney if you need assistance with issues like name changes.  Your lawyer can also represent you if you need to go to court due to a legal issue or conflict.  

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Last Modified: 06-09-2015 09:04 AM PDT

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