Changing Our Names

My wife and I are surprisingly traditional, and it was important for us that we have the same last name as new family.  Okay, we’re not that traditional, because we took a new name entirely – her dad’s first name, who passed away a few years before we met – rather than one of us taking the other’s last name.  That meant we both went through the process of legally changing our names.

Traditionally, of course, the woman in a heterosexual couple takes her husband’s last name.  The law is set up for this scenario, so it is pretty easy – there is just an extra line on the marriage license.  Here’s what a marriage license looks like in Orange County, NC, where we live:



If you notice, the option is only there for brides – if a man wants to change his name when he marries, he has to go through the same process we did.  

Anyway, since the marriage license option wasn’t available, we changed our names through court order – something anyone can do if they wish.  The first step was to publish a notice of our intended name change in the county courthouse.  We did this separately on the advice of a friend, because anyone can challenge your intended name change, and we didn’t want some random bigot to give us trouble.  After the notice had been posted for 10 days, we then had appointments with the county clerk to fill out the paperwork.  For this step, we each needed:

  1.  A certified copy of a birth certificate (my dad FedEx-ed mine to me)
  2. Two Affidavits of Good Character, signed by a resident of the same county and notarized. I found two friends willing to do this on a Tuesday afternoon, when the UPS store was open, and paid $10 for the notary fee.
  3. A notarized application, $5
  4. $89 in cash to process the name change.

Total Cost:  

$104 each, $208 total (actually, H’s only cost $96 because the notary felt bad and didn’t charge her to notarize her application)

About 5 hours total to drive to the courthouse twice, fill out forms, etc.

Cost if we were a straight couple:

$60 for a marriage license


2 comments on “Changing Our Names

  1. Ugh, I’ve been putting this off for the last 8 months since Clarissa and I married. I keep saying I’m going to do it and very time I think about filing out all the forms and going to the social security office ect. I say to myself, “yeah I’ll do it next week,” then the next week comes and I repeat the whole process. It’s even more pathetic when you consider that my spouse happens to be an attorney with ready access to notaries and the courthouse. I’m completely okay admitting I’m just being lazy! P.S. Love the new site. I look forward to more posts.

    • katemcfbruce says:

      Thanks for the comment Courtney! It’s a pain (and continues to be – I have to show proof to change my name on everything) but totally worth it. I love having the same last name as my wife!

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