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For husbands, taking your wife's last name may be non-traditional, but it can also be legally difficult.
Case in point: a Florida man who was accused of fraud for adopting his wife's last name, though the state's DMV later apologized and allowed him to obtain a new driver's license.
Could a similar predicament happen to you? Possibly. Here's what you need to know about taking your wife's last name:
A woman taking her husband's name when she marries is hardly news, and most states have made it easy for a woman to do so.
In Texas and many other states, a copy of the marriage certificate typically will be accepted as legal documentation of a name change. The county registrar will often issue copies of a valid marriage license for a small fee, allowing couples to protect their original license as a keepsake.
However, using your marriage license for a name change is mostly available for women; only a handful of states will allow men to do the same. According to the lawyer for the Florida man who was accused of fraud, nine states -- California, New York, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, Iowa, Georgia and North Dakota -- currently have laws that specifically allow a man to change his name upon marriage.
Even though it may be more expensive, anyone can choose to take his or her wife's last name by petitioning for a legal name change. Each state and local court may have a different form for the petition, and yes, there will be filing fees.
Like with any name change, the court may ask for a reason for your name change (i.e., you're getting married) or question whether the old name is associated with any debt or criminal liability. Some states also require publication in a newspaper of your intent to change your name.
Once you have legally changed your last name to your wife's, you'll need to contact the following agencies:
Taking your wife's last name may be difficult, but it is legal. If you're facing problems with your name change, or if you'd rather have a professional handle the matter for you, contact an experienced family law attorney near you.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
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