Name Changes after Same-Sex Marriage

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What Is the Law For Name Changes after a Same-Sex Marriage?

Laws on name changes after a same-sex marriage will depend on the marriage laws of that state. Some states allow same-sex marriages, whereas others do not. In states that do allow same-sex marriages, name changes are usually accomplished directly through the issuing of the marriage license. 

In states that don’t allow or recognize same-sex unions, the process for changing a last name can be more tedious. The individual seeking the name change usually files a petition with the court. This can involve some court fees and a short waiting period. Some states also require an individual to publish notice of their name change. 

States that recognize same-sex marriages are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Washington D.C. Some states that do not recognize same-sex marriage may recognize other forms of partnership, such as a civil union or domestic partnership.

Legal Issues When Changing Your Name after a Same-Sex Marriage

Federal Confusion: One issue to consider is the fact that federal agencies have only recently started recognizing valid same-sex marriages. Thus, an individual who is partner to a gay marriage may face some issues when dealing with federal agencies or applications. Many federal offices have implemented programs to remedy problems, but some delays or filing issues may still arise. Additionally, state specific documents, such as driver’s licenses, will need to be updated.

For instance, a social-security card may not reflect the person’s name change after marriage, and thus it may be necessary to complete an application and provide the necessary documents to obtain a new social security card.

Who Will Change Their Name: Also, some states may not be clear on which person should assume the other’s last name. Other states, such as California, make it clear that either partner can pick the other partner’s last name. 

Do I Need a Family Lawyer?

Name changes after a same-sex marriage is a relatively new area of law. It is also quickly evolving, as many other states are considering legislation to allow same-sex marriage. You may wish to hire a family lawyer if you need help understanding and navigating the name change laws in your area. Your attorney can assist you with the various requirements, and can also represent you during court if you need to appear before a judge.  

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Last Modified: 06-19-2014 12:32 PM PDT

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