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How To Change Your Name and Gender Marker in Kentucky

Like most states, Kentucky makes it relatively easy to change your name following a marriage or divorce and has a process for changing your name at other times and for other reasons using the courts. For example, a person may wish to change their name to affirm their gender identity. In that case, you may also want to know how to change your gender marker on important Kentucky documents.

This article covers how to change your name in Kentucky, whether due to marriage, divorce, or some other reason like a gender transition. The article also addresses filing the appropriate paperwork with other government agencies. Finally, you'll learn how to change your gender marker on crucial documents.

Identify and Follow the Correct Kentucky Legal Name Change Process

The process you'll need to follow for changing your name depends on the reason for your name change. We'll discuss each method below.


Marriage is the most common time for changing a name. Like most states, Kentucky makes the process easy by recognizing a valid marriage certificate as proof of a name change.

Before your wedding, apply for a marriage license at the county clerk's office where you're getting married. Once you get the license and have said your vows, request certified copies of the marriage certificate from the clerk's office. You'll need these copies to change other identity documents.


Breaking up is hard to do. If you're going through a divorce, you may want to resume using your former name.

In Kentucky, the divorce court can restore a divorced woman's maiden name, or former name, when it issues the decree dissolving the marriage. Be sure to request this from the court — while it's a common practice, it's not automatic. It's easier to return to your name as part of the divorce process than after it's final.

Once your divorce is final, you can use a certified copy of the decree to change your name with other government agencies (below).

Petition for a Change of Name

You can also petition the court for an order changing your name. This is a more involved process. The process requires you to start a court action. Whether you want to change your name for personal or family reasons, the petition process is available to most (well-intentioned) Kentuckians.

File a petition for a name change through your county's district court. If you're a parent looking to change your minor child's name, you can file a petition on their behalf. The details of the process differ from county to county and court to court in Kentucky. But you should prepare to do the following:

  • Fill out a petition form, giving your details and stating the reason for seeking a name change
  • Prove identity using official documents, such as a birth certificate and driver's license
  • File the petition with the court clerk's office and pay the applicable fees
  • Undergo a criminal background check
  • Attend a court hearing where a judge will consider your petition

All states seek to prevent name changes for fraudulent or illegal purposes. Kentucky classifies identity theft as a felony, and its courts will strive to ensure a name change isn't made for any such purpose.

Changing your name won't get you out of paying alimony, child support, debts, taxes, money judgments, or similar obligations. It won't let you escape arrest or criminal charges, either.

The court can grant the petition and will enter it into the records. Ensure you get copies of the court's order — you'll need them for the next step.

File the Appropriate Paperwork With Government Agencies

Once you've completed the initial steps of the name change process, you still need to update other government documents to reflect your new name.

Visit your local Social Security office to change your Social Security card. You'll need to fill out an application for a new Social Security card and show documentation of your name change.

If you're changing your gender marker, you can state your preferred gender designation on your application at the same time. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will then update its records to reflect your name change and your gender marker change.

Next, you'll want to apply for a new driver's license within 10 days of your name change. This step is straightforward, but you must do it in person. Visit your Driver Licensing Regional Office. You must bring your legal name change document as proof. Without it, you can't get your name on your license changed.

Changing Your Gender Marker

To change the gender marker on your Kentucky driver's license, you'll need to provide one of the following documents to your regional driver licensing office:

  • A court order changing your gender marker
  • A letter from a surgeon attesting to the completion of gender reassignment
  • An amended birth certificate

To change the gender marker on your Kentucky birth certificate, you'll start by applying for a certified copy of your birth certificate. You'll also need to provide a sworn statement issued by a licensed physician affirming that gender reassignment surgery has happened.

If you're changing your name at the same time, you'll need to submit a certified copy of the court order showing your legal name change, too. You'll then submit these documents to the Office of Vital Statistics to get an updated birth certificate reflecting your updated information.

Get the Legal Help You Need in Kentucky

Changing your name and gender marker is usually straightforward in Kentucky. If you're finding the process challenging, or your situation is unique, you don't have to navigate the process alone. Contact an experienced Kentucky attorney for legal advice and guidance.

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