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Name Changer: Portia de Rossi to Take Ellen's Last Name

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on August 12, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Sometimes it takes a while for a spouse to decide to take the name of their mate. Case in point, Portia de Rossi, nee Rogers, has decided to take the name of her spouse, Ellen DeGeneres. DeGeneres and de Rossi were legally married in 2008, during the period when same sex marriage was legal in California. Same sex marriage was banned by the passage of Proposition 8, later that year. As has been noted in previous posts, a recent decision by a U.S. District Court found that law to be unconstitutional.

Momentous court decisions aside, de Rossi is doing what many spouses decide to do and legally change her name. According to Reuters, Portia de Rossi filed her request for a name change on August 6. And, like civilians, de Rossi must have though hard about the ramifications of a name change. Especially for those who have professional accomplishments or other types of recognition attached to their name, a name change can make more of a difference in your life than just a new driver's license.

Some marital name changes are accomplished with showing a marriage certificate to the appropriate agencies, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles. Others are more complex, and require a court hearing. In some states, the law has a more informal approach and a name change can be accomplished by use and by making the change again, with all appropriate agencies. However, in today's orange-coded, security conscious world, a stricter approach to documentation is more common. A list of agencies that Ms. de Rossi, soon to be DeGeneres, as well as all mere mortals would have to inform of any change in name is available on

It should be noted than Ms. de Rossi, and anyone else seeking to change their name, may not choose a new name that infringes on the rights of others (such as a celebrity name), or one that is a racial slur, a fighting word, or that would be intentionally confusing. Obviously, in this case the prohibition against taking a celebrity name will be stretched, just a bit.

Portia and Ellen's last name will become as one after a hearing by the court. According to, the happy event will take place September 23. Mazel.

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