How to Change Your Middle Name After Marriage

Don't want to completely boot your former surname postwedding? Just scoot it over a spot.
by Emily Platt

An old tradition is making a comeback based on some recent data. According to Jake Wolff, the founder of name change service HitchSwitch, an increasing number of newlyweds are using their original surname (or maiden name) as their middle name postwedding. "In 2018, almost 45 percent of our clients wanted to do that in one way or another," Wolff explains, whether they planned to replace their current middle name or add a second middle name. And that percentage has grown from 2017; "I see more and more of these types of inquiries every day," Wolff says.

There are certainly benefits to using your original or maiden name as your middle name postwedding. Maybe you're marrying later in life, and you've established a professional identity you want to remain associated with, says Wolff. Or maybe, you'd like to keep your original family name close for more sentimental reasons. Whatever the case, legally changing your middle name after marriage can be tricky. That's why we asked Wolff to walk us through the process.

How to Change Your Middle Name After Marriage

Wondering how to change your middle name? In some states, you can use your marriage certificate to make your original surname your middle name; in others you can't. It all starts with your marriage license—the document you complete prewedding, submit in order to be legally married, and use to obtain a certificate postwedding. Wolff says, in general, there are three types of marriage licenses:

Category 1

This marriage license asks for just you and your partner's current names. After tying the knot, you can use your certificate to make any name change based on you and your spouse's previous surnames. That includes making your original last name your new middle name.

Category 2

This marriage license asks you to write your desired married names down. If you indicate a middle name change then, you can use your certificate to officially make the switch. If you don't, you'll have to change your middle name through the court system. (Unfortunately, that costs extra time, energy and money, thanks to the paperwork, fees, hearings and even newspaper announcements—yep—that could be required.)

Note that even if you jot down a new name, it won't automatically take effect postwedding. Instead, writing a new name down gives you the option to use it later on. You'll have to take legal steps, like notifying the Social Security Administration, to actually set the change in motion. (HitchSwitch assists with all that.)

Category 3 

This marriage license lets you write down a new surname and only a new surname. You can't use it to change your middle name—for that, you'll have to petition the court.

Because changing your middle name after marriage may get complicated depending on where you live, it's best to investigate your state's laws ASAP (read: well before you tie the knot). When possible, use your marriage certificate to make the swap. If you can't, don't stress—there's always the court route. There's also HitchSwitch to help you out. The service smooths out the process no matter how tricky the situation, thanks to its super knowledgeable staff and comprehensive, customized name change packages. It'll tell you what you need to do based on your situation, complete most of your paperwork for you and answer your questions (even the really specific ones) along the way.

Get more of your marriage name change questions answered here:

An LGBTQ+ Couple's Guide to Marriage Name Changes

How to Change Your Last Name on Email and Social Media

Hyphenated Last Names 101

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors.

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