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Changing Your Name Through Marriage, Divorce, Adoption or Citizenship

Adults can legally change their names when they get married, divorced, have a marriage annulled, become a United States citizen, or ask the court for a Name Change.

A child's name doesn't change when a parent gets married or divorced. You can change a child’s name through adoption, citizenship, a Paternity case in Family Court, or by asking a civil court for a Child Name Change.


Marriage

You can choose to change your last name when you marry by putting the new name on the marriage license application. You can’t change your first or middle name by marriage. The new last name is officially your name when the marriage ceremony is completed. Your marriage certificate is proof of your new name and can be used to change your name on other identification papers such as your driver’s license.

You can change your last name to any of the following:

  • your spouse’s last name;
  • any former name of either spouse;
  • a new name combining into a single name all or a part of either spouses’ present or former last names;
  • a hyphenated name consisting of any combination or either spouses’ last name or former last names.

To find information about getting married in New York State, visit the Department of Health.


Divorce

You can ask the court to use any name that you used before the marriage when you get divorced. You can’t change your name through divorce to a new name that you never had. Your divorce judgment will say if you can use your former name. This is a legal name change. Use the divorce judgment to change your name on other identification papers, like your social security card or driver’s license.


Adoption

When a child is adopted through the courts, the Judge can change the child’s name in the adoption order and the child gets a new birth certificate. You can choose a new name. The child’s last name will be the same as yours. This is a legal name change. Read more about Adoption.


Citizenship

You can change your name at the same time you become a United States citizen by choosing a new name on your USCIS Form N-400. If a Judge orders the name change at your swearing-in ceremony, this is a legal name change. You can use your naturalization certificate as proof of your name change.

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