Laws on Name Changes Involving Marriages in Georgia
By Brenna Davis
Traditionally, a woman changed her last name to her husband's name when they married. However, traditions are changing and many women no longer take their husband's names. In fact, an increasing number of men are taking their wives' last names. Georgia is one of the few states offering complete equality in its marriage name change laws. Both spouses are permitted to change their last names on the marriage license without having to file a name change petition or advertise the name change.
To obtain a marriage license, visit the state court in any Georgia county. The license application includes a space for both you and your fiancee to indicate your new, married names. Make sure the name is written clearly and legibly and check the license for any errors. If you are changing your name, you will need certified copies of the license to give to the Social Security Administration and Department of Motor Vehicles. There is a small fee for each certified copy. A blood test is no longer required to obtain a marriage license.
Read More: What Happens if a Marriage License is Never Turned In?
Unusual Name Changes
Some couples opt to take a completely new name, incorporate their spouse's last name as their middle name or hyphenate both names. If you are hyphenating your last name, you can put the hyphenated name on the license application. There is not, however, an option to take a new middle name on the marriage license. If you are adopting a completely new last name, one that is neither yours, your new spouse's or a combination of the two, you must file a formal petition for change of name.
Name Change Completion
For your name change to take full effect, you must give copies of your marriage license to the Social Security Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles and state office of vital records. After your wedding, visit the office in your county to ensure your records are changed. You will need a new copy of your driver's license. You must also change your name on financial accounts and utility bills to avoid confusion and to access these records.
Some people opt to take their spouse's name legally and use their given name in social or professional situations. There are no laws in Georgia prohibiting this; you can introduce yourself however you wish. However, when signing legal documents such as contracts, checks or employment applications, you must use your legal name.
Name Change Petition
If you are already married and wish to change your name, you must complete a petition for name change. These petitions are available in the clerk's office at courthouses in each county, but you must file in the county where you currently reside. Fill out the application and then pay the fee. You must then advertise the name change in a local general circulation newspaper. After the change has been properly advertised, a judge will enter an order changing your name. You must then forward the order to the Social Security Administration and Department of Motor Vehicles.
Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.