How To Change Your Name After Marriage In California (Step By Step Guide)

Many married couples in the US ask certain questions, including “how to change your name after marriage in California.”

In today’s world, changing your last name after your wedding can feel less like a “must-do” and more like a personal choice. 

There’s no right or wrong way to proceed, but many couples look forward to leaping because it confirms the united front of their marriage from its very beginning. 

Legally updating your last name isn’t quite as fun as designing your wedding bouquet or deciding on your signature cocktail

Still, if you go into the process of understanding what to expect, it can be less of a headache.

Inferences Surrounding California’s Law Regarding Names Change

It is important to know that California law allows both parties to a marriage to retain their names; no name change is required of either party.

However, if one or both parties wish to do so, California Family Code § 306.5 allows them to change their middle names, last names, or both. 

The provisions for changing names vary slightly, depending on which name or names are being changed. 

Either party to a marriage may choose from the following last names:

  • The current last name of the other spouse;
  • The last name of either spouse at birth;
  • A single last name that combines all or a portion of either spouse’s current last name or last name at birth; or
  • A hyphenated version of the parties’ last names.

Taking up a partner’s last name or hyphenating after marriage does not change a person, but records must reflect the new identity. 

Couples decide to build a family identity, among other legal, cultural, or personal reasons. 

Regardless of why an individual wants to change their name after marriage, interested persons in California must follow specific legal and administrative processes. 

For one, the individual must prepare several documents, especially a certified copy of the marriage certificate from the county clerk or the California Department of Public Health

The marriage certificate contains that person’s new name and is the primary requirement for processing other official documents that reflect the name change conferred by marital status. 

Per state law, California marriage records are public information. 

Hence, interested public members may access these records for reasons other than a name change request, provided the record is not closed or restricted.

Steps To Change Your Name After Marriage 

There are a number of steps to changing your last name after marriage in California that you may want to know more about. Keep reading for the breakdown of name change steps.

1. Determine The Documents Needed

When you are interested in finding out more about how to change my last name after marriage, you will need to determine all the documents and accounts on which you would like to change your name.

Be sure to make a list, so you can check these items off as you complete them.

A comprehensive list may ensure you remember something important later on. 

Documents Needed to Change Name After Marriage In California

A person who wishes to make a name change after marriage must have the following:

  • All old identity documents in the person’s possession, including the individual’s birth certificate
  • Certified marriage certificate
  • New social security card

Driver’s license or state-issued ID card

Determine The Documents Needed

2. Gather All Needed Paperwork

When you seek a legal name change after marriage, you need to gather all your paperwork to have it all in the same place.

This includes your identification, birth certificate, social security card, or other sources that prove who you are, your citizenship, and show your name. These will be needed throughout the process.

In some cases, other documents might prove that you were married and when. For instance, if you have a wedding announcement or newspaper article about your nuptials, this might be helpful to have on hand as well.

3. Get A Copy Of Your Marriage License

One of the most important documents you will need is your marriage license.

If you didn’t get one when you married or would like an extra, you could order official copies from your local government office or court system.

You will likely be unable to get a name change after marriage if you don’t have this document.

Get A Copy Of Your Marriage License

 4. Get A New Social Security Card

Another step in how to change your name after marriage is applying for a new social security card. You may have to download and fill out a form and take it to your local social security office to get a card with your updated name on it.

There is no charge for updating your Social Security card, but you’ll need to bring the following documents along for the appointment:

  • Proof of name change. If you’re simply taking your fiancé(e)’s last name, a certified copy of your marriage certificate will do the trick.
  • Proof of citizenship.A valid passport, your birth certificate, or a certified copy of your birth certificate will work.
  • Valid photo identification. This can be a driver’s license, unexpired passport, military I.D., or state-issued I.D. card. The I.D. will have your original last name, and that is totally fine.
  • Your current Social Security card. (You’ll keep the same number after your card is replaced.)

Once you get your new card, you can begin to update other documents.

5. Get A New Driver’s License in California?

Next on the list of significant changes, a person must make following a name change is to obtain a new driver’s license from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

Generally, persons who wish to do this must have obtained a new social security card. Still, it is also possible to initiate the process with a marriage certificate and court order only. 

Still, the DMV may require other identity documents, including a certified birth certificate and two California residency documents for first-time applicants.

That said, the process goes thus:

  • Create a California DMV account or an ID.me account
  • Get your social security number
  • Complete the Online Application (with the DMV or ID.me account)
  • Submit the request and pay the necessary fees
  • Visit the local DMV to complete the application process

The DMV made a guide video containing systematic instructions for requesting a new driver’s license in California. 

Meanwhile, persons who cannot complete an online application can schedule an appointment with the local DMV and complete paper forms instead. 

Just as in the online application, he/she will need to provide basic personal information, proof of identity, and a certified marriage certificate or court order. 

Note that an online application for a new driver’s license takes up to two (2) weeks to process. Thus, concerned persons must begin the process as soon as possible.

Get A New Driver's License in California

6. Update Name With Providers And Other Important Documents

You’ve got the “big three”—your Social Security card, driver’s license, and passport—out of the way.

It is time to pat yourself on the back, but now you’ve got to think about all the other places your name is listed.

If you’re interested in how to change your name after marriage in California and make a complete switch, you’ll have to change your name on everything from your credit cards to your local dry cleaner.

Yikes! But don’t worry—you can take your time on these tasks.

Here is a list of things you’ll need to change your name on:

  • Bank and credit card companies

 

To have your bank documents updated, you can visit your local branch. 

If you have your updated documents and the other official documents you used to have your ID changed, you shouldn’t encounter any issues with having your name changed on your bank accounts. 

Talk to a banker and tell them how you are changing your name after marriage, and they will guide you through the process.

  • Immigration documents
  • Lease agreement
  • Loans
  • Car title and registration
  • Insurance

After a name change, an individual must contact the insurance service provider to update their records to ensure continued access to the benefits associated with enrolled policies.

Generally, the insurance service provider will provide a change of status form.

For example, a person who applied for health insurance through Covered California may update their name change and marital status by calling Covered CA at (800) 300-1506 or calling their insurance agent for free assistance.

Alternatively, he/she may DIY by:

  • Visiting www.CoveredCA.com
  • Logging in to his/her Covered CA account
  • Reporting the changes online

Note that insurance companies and service providers generally set a time limit on how long after the marriage a client can up his/her insurance information.

This window is thirty (30) days for Covered Cal, while persons on medical have ten (10) days to report a name change.

As a rule of thumb, concerned persons must start as soon as possible, considering how typically difficult it is to reach insurance service providers.

Likewise, a person who wishes to extend coverage to his/her spouse must also contact the insurance company as quickly as possible. Concerned persons may use this directory to find the contact information of various insurance companies, agents, and brokers in California.

  • Mortgage
  • Deeds
  • Utility companies
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Voter registration
  • Social media accounts.

 

Conclusion

The final place you may want to change a name after marriage is on your social media accounts.

This might be as easy as updating your name and saving your settings, but it will differ based on which site you are using.

You can also consider contacting support on any site where you want to know how to change your name after marriage.

They can provide you with further information. Finally, the time it takes to accomplish a complete name change in California varies with the individual and several external factors.

Persons who initiate a court order for name change after marriage can expect to complete the court process and requirements in about eight (8) weeks. The time for other government agencies varies with processing time.

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