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:
- A certified copy of a birth certificate (my dad FedEx-ed mine to me)
- 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.
- A notarized application, $5
- $89 in cash to process the name change.
$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