Men wishing to change their names after marriage need to do so legally. Unfortunately, most states present unequal laws regarding name changes, requiring men to spend quite a bit more than women to do so.
Attitudes to Men Changing Name after Marriage
The attitudes displayed toward nontraditional men who choose to take the last name of their wives after marriage range from negative to positive ones. Men who choose to change their names to that of their spouses are viewed as nurturing and committed (positive) or weak and dependent (negative). Men who choose not to change their last names are seen as being traditional and independent (positive) or possessive and controlling (negative).
Lawsuit by Michael Buday and Diana Bijon
When Michael Buday decided to marry Diana Bijon, he also chose to take her last name as a sign of respect for her family. In order to do so, he had to follow California state law, which dictated that he first go to court, file a petition, and publish his name change in a local newspaper for four weeks. The process cost him more than $300, much more than a woman would have spent at approximately $80.
Joining forces with the ACLU, Buday chose to go to court to change the law, suing the California Department of Health Services. The ACLU suggested that the name change process for men violates the equal protection clause as provided by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. After two years, this lawsuit alleging sex discrimination during the marriage licensing and name change process resulted in a new law, the Name Equality Act of 2007.
The California Name Equality Act
Becoming effective on 01/01/2009, the Name Equality Act of 2007 enables either or both marriage license applicants in California to change their middle and/or last names easily. It allows them to include a new name (without the intent to defraud) on the marriage license application in the provided space. This method of changing a name after marriage can only take place at the time that a County Clerk or Notary Public issues the license.
Either applicant may choose any of these last name versions:
· Other spouse’s current last name
· Either spouse’s last birth name
· Hyphenated name using a combination of both current last names
· Blended combination of a single name using all or part of either spouse’s last birth name or current last name.
Either applicant may choose to adopt any of the following middle name versions:
· Current last name used by either spouse
· Either spouse’s last name as provided at birth
· A hyphenated name using a combination of current middle and current last names of either spouse
· A hyphenated combination of the current middle and the last name given at birth of either spouse
First names cannot be changed at this time. While this act enables people to change their middle/last names on their marriage licenses, it doesn’t require that they do so. No changes can be made once the marriage license has been issued unless clerical errors exist.
Which States Allow Men to Change Their Name Through Marriage?
Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota and California offer an easy process for a man to change his name after marriage. Most states do not provide a space on the marriage license application form to include a name change for the groom, have unequal name change laws for people getting married, and require extensive paperwork, large fees, and public notification of the intended name change for men.
Do-it-yourself Name Change