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; 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 must usually file a petition with the court. This can involve some court fees and a short wait period.  Also, some states require an individual to publish notice of their name change for some time afterwards. 

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

What Issues Exist Regarding Name Changes After a Same-Sex Marriage?

Another issue to consider is the fact that federal agencies may not recognize same-sex marriages. Thus, while the state you live in might honor same-sex marriages, you may face some issues when dealing with federal agencies or applications. 

For instance, a social-security card may or may not reflect the person’s name change after marriage, and it may also not reflect any recent name changes after same-sex marriage. 

Also, some states may not be clear on which person can adopt 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 Lawyer for Help With Name Changes After a Same-Sex Marriage?

Name changes after a same-sex marriage is a relatively new area of law.  It is also a fast changing field, as many other states are considering legislation to allow same-sex marriage. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need help with 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: 11-08-2013 02:01 PM PST

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