What You Should Know About Changing Your Name After Marriage

Family Law - July 8, 2024
Young couple leaving wedding ceremony

Editor’s note: This post was originally published May 20, 2022, and has been updated for accuracy, comprehensiveness and freshness on July 8, 2024.

So, you’ve officially tied the knot. You’ve been on your honeymoon and now you’re wondering whether you should change your name or not. Are there disadvantages of not changing your name after marriage? Should you compromise and hyphenate your last name with your partner’s last name? Do you know how to legally change your name after marriage? You have questions about this big life change, and we have answers.

Bride in wedding dress holding a bridal flowers.Can I keep my name after marriage?

Before getting married, many people ask themselves if it is acceptable to avoid changing their name after marriage. When you marry, you are free to keep your name or take your new partner’s name. But one thing is clear: it is your choice in most states. It comes down to a matter of preference and personal choice.

Many people keep their last name because they end up marrying later in life, or their career is already established and it could negatively impact their career and finances to change their last name. This could be seen as a new identity altogether, resulting in confusion in various aspects of their life. Personal branding is a helpful tool in society. Name recognition brings power, and many people aren’t ready to give that up. And you don’t have to!

Are you wondering why it is important to take your partner’s last name? It isn’t always the best option, or you may simply choose not to. However, taking your partner’s last name does comes with benefits. It’s less confusing for friends, family, employers, and government institutions if you and your partner share the same name. If you decide to share surnames, make sure all your identifying documents, licenses, accounts and other important items reflect the change.

This post shares details about a maiden name vs. a married name.

What do you call a married woman who keeps her maiden name?

You have several options for what you and others can call you when you decide to keep your maiden name after marrying. You can go by “Mrs.” as in “Mr. Jackson and Mrs. Smith.” You can also use “Ms.” if you would prefer your title not to be associated with your marital status. The key thing to remember is that it is your personal decision. Discuss it with your partner and decide what is the best way to go for your unique situation.

How long after marriage to change name: Is there a deadline?

No! Your marriage license doesn’t expire, so there is no deadline for a name change after marriage. You don’t have a time limit that you must adhere to in order to change your name after marriage. In fact, many spouses and newly married couples may choose to wait to “see what happens” after they get married.

Can I keep my last name and add my partner’s?

Again, this is your personal choice. It comes down to what you and your new partner decide together. It may be advantageous for you to hyphenate your name, adding your spouse’s surname afterward. Many new spouses choose this method because it may seem to be “the best of both worlds,” since they won’t lose their own name (personal brand) and they have the opportunity to show commitment and connection to their spouse at the same time.

What do I need to legally change my name after marriage?

Groom placing wedding ring on a bride.The process to legally change your name after marriage is quite simple if you have all the documents gathered in advance. Follow these steps to ensure you can legally change your name without experiencing obstacles that could draw out the process:

  1. When you apply for your marriage license, be sure to request and purchase certified copies in advance. It may be a good idea to purchase three copies to start.
  2. Store your certificates and marriage license in a safe place, such as a safe or a secure box in your home.
  3. Update your Social Security card.
  4. Request a new U.S. passport and travel documents.
  5. Change the name on your bank accounts or open a joint bank account with your new spouse.
  6. Don’t forget to change your name on your credit cards, with your insurance agent, and with your current employer.

Take the next step.

Changing your name after marriage is no small feat. If you decide to have it changed, you will need to gather a lot of documents and take care of several small legal details to make sure the correct name shows on all the essential papers, accounts and more.

That’s where LegalShield can help. We give you access to a dedicated provider law firm for a fraction of other lawyers’ hourly fees. Your LegalShield provider law firm can help review paperwork, write letters, make phone calls, and assist with other services that you need done in order to change your name.


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