Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin that streamlines the process for newly married couples who wish to change either their middle name or surname as a result of their marriage was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee.
There is currently no option for couples to change their middle name or surname as part of the marriage certificate application process, leaving the newly married couples to navigate a difficult process of changing one’s names with a local Social Security or Motor Vehicle Commission office or paying to have the names changed in court.
"Newly married couples often find themselves stuck in a painstaking process if they choose to change their names," said Pintor Marin, D-Essex. "They might need to go through their local Social Security or Motor Vehicle Commission office, or wind up in court, which can be tedious to say the least. Marriage may be hard, but changing your name certainly shouldn't be."
The legislation calls for the Commissioner of Health to issue a State marriage license application form that enables each of the applicants to enter changes in middle name and surname resulting from the marriage.
Under the legislation, the application form would include two parallel sections permitting each of the applicants to enter one of the following options as their surname:
- the surname of the other spouse;
- any former surname of either spouse;
- a name combining all or a segment of the pre-marriage surname or any former surname of each spouse into a single surname;
- a combination name separated by a hyphen, provided that each part of such combination surname is the pre-marriage surname, or any former surname, of each of the spouses; or
- the pre-marriage surname of a spouse as the spouse’s middle name, followed by the surname of the other spouse as the new surname.
The application form would include language instructing the applicants that neither party to the marriage is required to change his or her surname, and that applicants who do change their middle name or surname should contact their local Social Security Administration, so that its records and the applicant’s Social Security identification card can be updated to reflect the name change.
By offering this option as part of the marriage certificate application process, Pintor Marin said she hoped other State offices will reciprocate and permit changes of both middle and surname after marriage consistently and without fee or penalty.
The bill, cosponsored by Assembly Democrat Gabriela Mosquera, cleared the Human Services Committee on Feb. 14 with a 6-0 vote. It moves the full Assembly for consideration.