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How To Change Your Name and Gender Marker in Mississippi

If you're getting married, divorced, or going through a gender transition, you may be curious about how to change your name or your gender marker on important documents.

This article addresses how to change your name in Mississippi, whether due to marriage, divorce, or other reasons. The article also discusses how to change your gender marker.

The process you'll need to follow for changing your name will depend on the reason for the name change.

Changing Your Name When Getting Married

Most name changes happen when getting married. While there's no legal requirement to take a spouse's name, it's still pretty common. Spouses can join their names, hyphenate them, or agree to another name change.

Like most states, Mississippi allows marrying couples to change their name when applying for a marriage license. Fill out the application form with the new name, noting your former name, and submit it along with all other required information to the county circuit court's office clerk.

Eventually, you'll get a certified copy of your marriage certificate. Keep that document. You can use it to update your Social Security card, driver's license, and other vital records.

Changing Your Name When Getting Divorced

When marital bliss gives way to a divorce, resuming a former name is a common choice. There's good news and bad news here. The bad news is you'll have to go through what can be a long, painful, and often trying divorce proceeding. A marriage is a legal union, and you need a divorce decree to dissolve it legally. The good news is you can take your name back as part of those proceedings.

Changing your name back to what it was before marriage or at birth is usually routine. The court handling your divorce can include an order in the final divorce decree.

Petition for a Name Change

Your last option is to petition the court for an order changing your name. This is a more involved process than filling out a marriage license or changing your name as part of a divorce. But it's there for any name change and can be used anytime. This is the process you'll need to follow if you're transgender and changing your name as part of a gender transition, for instance.

Mississippi law gives the chancery court of the county where you live the jurisdiction to hear a name change petition. You need to be an adult over 21 to file the petition. Expect to do the following:

  • Fill out a petition with your personal information
  • Sign the petition before a notary public
  • File the completed petition and any supporting identity documents with the chancery court clerk
  • Prepare to attend a court hearing to consider the request

You can't change your name to avoid a crime, debt, child support obligation, spousal support obligation, or for any other illegal purpose. You may have to overcome extra obstacles if you want to change your name while facing other civil restrictions, such as those imposed by imprisonment or as conditions of parole.

If the court grants your name change petition, you'll get a court order making it legal and official. Get a certified copy of the order. A certified copy is a necessary legal document for changing other vital records.

File the Appropriate Paperwork With Government Agencies

With your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order in hand, your next stop is the local Social Security office. Update your name in its database and get a revised Social Security card. You can update your gender marker at the same time by selecting your preferred gender on your Social Security card application.

Then, you can visit the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (DPS) to get an updated driver's license or ID card. Your Social Security card and driver's license are the two most important identifying documents you'll likely have. So make sure you update them with your new name.

Legally Change Your Gender Marker in Mississippi

The process for changing your gender marker on legal documents in Mississippi is somewhat confusing.

In November 2021, the state Department of Public Safety announced a new policy allowing changes to the indicated gender marker on a Mississippi driver's license by completing a gender designation form at the Driver Service Bureau. The new policy required a form completed by the applicant and a physician, therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker confirming the gender identity.

But, a few days after the department announced the new policy, it rescinded it. As a result, the gender marker on your driver's license still needs to match the one reflected on your birth certificate.

You can change the gender marker indicated on your Mississippi birth certificate. But the process can be a little complicated. The Mississippi Department of Health will issue an amended birth certificate with a gender marker change once it receives the following:

  • A certified court order
  • A medical statement that attests to the reassignment
  • The required fee

Mississippi has only two gender options for birth certificates: male or female. There is no non-binary option. But you can choose the non-binary "X" marker on federal documents, such as your passport and Social Security record.

Get the Legal Help You Need in Mississippi

In most cases, a legal name change is simple. But there are exceptions. If you need help as a Mississippian, contact an experienced Mississippi attorney for guidance. An attorney can ensure you cover all your bases when changing your name or gender marker.

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