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Changing Your Name

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It was not what I envisioned as newlywed bliss, and not a good day to break in a new pair of honeymoon heels. My feet were killing me after standing in a two-hour line only to be sent to the back because I didn't have the right forms to change my name from Miss to Mrs. I got the outdated forms from their website. I took off a day from work and went to the DMV three times. When I got home, I was still a Miss on paper. Thirteen hours? It was all too much! I had to stop the madness and make the process simpler in some way.

It took me nearly a year to research the name-change laws in all 50 states. During my research and development of MissNowMrs.com, I became well educated about name-changing laws and rules in all 50 states and Canada.

What I learned was that in most states, a married woman can choose from several options: She can take her spouse's last name, take two last names, hyphenate two last names, take her maiden name as a second middle name or replace her middle name with her maiden name.
Though brides in certain states wanting to slide around their middle name must be careful. In some states, that won't work.

In California, Pennsylvania, Washington, New Jersey and Ohio, women can't change their middle name using the married name change process. Women in those states must petition the U.S. court system for a name-change in order to change their middle names.

LegalZoom.com is the company I recommend using to obtain your legal name-change court order. They prepare all of the necessary county-specific documents for you and then provide detailed instructions on how to file for your new name.

Women in New York can take their maiden name as their middle name, but they must bring their Social Security card and U.S. passport showing their new name to the Department of Motor Vehicles office.

If a bride thinks her husband's last name is just too boring and refuses to take it, surprisingly, he can change his last name. It seems unusual, but not uncommon. I read recently that a Twi-Hard couple both legally changed their last name to Cullen. WOW!

In California, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York or North Dakota, her spouse can change his name using the married name-change process.

There is no time limit on changing your name. Many states would like you to inform them of your name change within 30 days of your marriage, but will allow you to change your name after that. I know of one bride who waited 32 years to change her name!

Whether bride or groom, changing your name is certainly not mandatory by any means, but it is an important topic to discuss with your spouse. Newlyweds may be surprised by their significant other's thoughts and passion on the topic. It's important to know the options available before beginning the conversation, so both the bride and groom know how much wiggle room they have to compromise. Sometimes that's half the battle.