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How To Change Your Name and Gender Marker in New Jersey

Your name follows you, from your birth certificate and driver's license to your credit cards and social media accounts. However, there may come a time when you want to legally change your name.

This article addresses how to change your name in New Jersey. It also discusses how to change your gender identity on important documents. This information is especially valuable for transgender people.

First, we'll help you identify the correct process to follow for changing your name in New Jersey. Next, we'll discuss the paperwork to file with the appropriate government agencies. Finally, the article addresses how to change your gender marker.

Identify and Follow the Correct Legal Name Change Process

Most name changes happen for one of two reasons. Either you're getting married and want to take your spouse's name, or you're going through divorce and your ex-partner's name isn't all that appealing anymore.

All other name changes follow a legal process that is open to almost everyone. They require a visit to the local court.

Name Change Through Marriage

The most common time to change your name is when getting married. This is also the most streamlined name-change process. Like many states, New Jersey lets you take on a new name when applying for a marriage certificate.

Fill in your new name on the marriage certificate, and when the valid marriage certificate is issued, it serves as proof of your name change. You can use it as a legal document to make changes to your Social Security card and driver's license, which we'll discuss below.

Name Changes During Divorce

Changing your name during divorce involves some legal work. While divorce can be long and painful, the name change part of the process doesn't need to be.

New Jersey permits the court handling a divorce case to change either party's name simultaneously. This includes returning to a former name or taking a new name altogether.

Petition for a Change of Name

For everything else, there's the name change petition process. This is the route you'll take if you're changing your name due to a gender transition, for instance.

New Jersey allows you to file a petition in the local Superior Court. An affidavit containing personal information such as your name, date of birth, Social Security number, and any criminal history is required.

Then the name change process begins. You can expect to:

  • Publish notice of your name change in a local newspaper at least two weeks before going to court
  • Notify interested parties that you intend to change your name and submit proof of this to the court
  • Go to court and convince a judge to change your name
  • If successful, send copies of the final judgment to the Department of Treasury and the Registrar of Vital Statistics

New Jersey requires the sworn affidavit you submit to state that you're not trying to avoid criminal prosecution and that you're not trying to commit fraud. It's also a crime to knowingly give false information when filing for a change of name.

Once your name is changed, you have to go by that name and no other. You should also know a name change won't stop lawsuits filed against you using your old name.

When a court is satisfied with the information you provided, it can grant your petition and issue a judgment authorizing you to change your name. That's your proof of a legal name change, just like a marriage certificate or divorce decree. You can then submit certified copies of your name change order to other government agencies.

File the Appropriate Paperwork With Government Agencies

Once you have legal proof of a name change, use it to update your official documents and records. New Jersey law requires you to update your driver's license within two weeks of a name change. This will give you a current form of identification that can then be used to update other records.

You should also apply to update your Social Security card at your local Social Security office. Voting registrations, birth certificates, and other government-issued documents should be updated as well.

Changing Your Gender Marker

Perhaps you're going through a name change process because you're transgender. In that case, there's a good chance you'll want to change your gender marker on important documents, too.

Changing Your Gender Marker on Your New Jersey Birth Certificate

The process for changing your gender marker on your birth certificate is fairly straightforward in New Jersey. Whether you're seeking to change your own gender marker or the gender marker of a minor child, the process is the same.

All you need to do is fill out the appropriate form and attest to the correct gender. An amended birth certificate is then issued to you. No proof of gender reassignment surgery is required.

Changing Your Gender Marker on Your Driver's License

Changing your gender marker on your driver's license in New Jersey is a straightforward process. You can even choose gender "X" on your license in New Jersey. You may opt for that designation if you identify as non-binary, for instance.

To ensure a gender marker change on your driver's license in New Jersey, you just need to fill out the appropriate form attesting to your correct gender. The form requires you to attest that you're not changing your indicated gender for any fraudulent purpose. There's also a small fee associated with the change.

Changing Your Gender Marker on Your Social Security Card

Last but not least, you'll want to change your gender marker on your Social Security record. Thankfully, like the above processes, this process is fairly painless.

Social Security cards don't list your gender. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a database of personal information that other government agencies refer to, and that database includes your sex designation.

You'll need to provide identification documents proving both your identity and either U.S. citizenship or immigration status. Then you'll fill out an application for a Social Security card. Take your documents in person to your local Social Security office or mail them in.

That's it! The Social Security Administration (SSA) will issue you a new Social Security card.

Get the Legal Help You Need in the Garden State

If you still have questions or encounter challenges during the name change process, your best course of action is to reach out to a local attorney. An attorney can help you fill out name change request forms and interpret any court orders related to your name change.

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