There is no law that requires a woman to change her last name. A woman is free to keep her last name or use both last name or use her husband’s name or use a completely different name. In fact the man can also take the woman’s last name. The change of name after marriage is legally valid unless it is done fraudulently or criminally. If you are considering a name change after marriage, just make sure that you are happy with the new name you choose.
Changing name to husband’s last name
It is very simple for a woman to adopt her husband’s last name as her last name. All that needs to be is start using the husband’s last name. You can use your new name in your interaction with other family members and in all social settings. You can use the name to open new bank accounts. Most organizations will accept a name change without much hassle but for security purposes, many of them will insist on some form of documentary evidence. You can use your marriage certificate as evidence.
Changing name to something other than husband’s name
You can legally change your name after your marriage to something that is not your husband’s name. However you may require more than your marriage certificate to be able to do that. You will have to apply to the court to have your name changed legally. State law will determine the eligibility and requirements for such a name change. Please check with your state law.
Generally, you must submit certain forms in court. These forms are available online. They are simple and can be easily completed. You will be required to provide certain details like your name, address, social security number, your new name and the reason for name change. You will not be allowed to change your name for committing fraud or escaping criminal liability or debt. In case of a divorce, you must follow the same procedure if you want to change your name. The forms that you will be required to fill will include a petition, an order to show cause and a name change decree. Once you have filled the forms, you must submit them to the court along with the prescribed fees. In some states, you may have to advertise your petition in local news papers. A judge will review your petition and if everything is in order and there are no objections to your name change, the judge will sign the name change decree.
Once you have legally changed your name, make sure you inform certain entities. These include:
• Post Office
• Social Security Office
• Department of Motor Vehicles
• Department of Vital Statistics
• Utilities companies including gas, electricity, telephone
• Debtors and Creditors
• IRS and other tax authorities
• Passport Office
• Veterans Administration
• Registrar of Voters
• Insurance companies
• Public Welfare Offices