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Name change upon marriage


Q: Am I allowed to change my middle name upon marriage?

(Maria, from Santa Monica, CA)

A: Yes, you are. California Family Code section 306.5(b)(1) provides that one party or both parties to a marriage may elect to change the middle or last names, or both, by which that party wishes to be known after solemnization of the marriage by entering the new name in the spaces provided on the marriage license application without intent to defraud.

California Family Code section 306.5(b)(2) specifies that a person may adopt any of the following last names:

  • the current last name of the other spouse
  • the last name of either spouse given at birth
  • a name combining into a single last name all or a segment of the current last name or the last name of either spouse given at birth
  • a hyphenated combination of last names.

California Family Code section 306.5(b)(3) specifies that a person may adopt any of the following middle names:

  • the current last name of either spouse
  • the last name of either spouse given at birth
  • a hyphenated combination of the current middle name and the current last name of the person or spouse
  • a hyphenated combination of the current middle name and the last name given at birth of the person or spouse.

California Family Code section 306.5(b)(4) provides that such election by a person to change his or her name serves as a record of the name change. A certified copy of a marriage certificate containing the new name, or retaining the former name, shall constitute proof that the use of the new name or retention of the former name is lawful.

Full text of the California Family Code section 306.5 can be found on the website of the State of California.

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