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Name Change without Judge

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My wife just had her citizenship ceremony and asked for a new name. They said they no longer do it in Tampa, she did not have the ceremony with a judge, but her certificate has her new name on it. I asked the officer who did the ceremony why there was no judge and if her new name was legal, and he said it was. We went sent off for a passport without thinking then tried to change her name at our banks and they all tell us they need an official document signed by a judge. What gives, is her name change not legal? Why say it's no longer done but give us the new name? Why lie to us and tell us it's legal when we can't get anything changed?

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My wife just had her citizenship ceremony and asked for a new name. They said they no longer do it in Tampa, she did not have the ceremony with a judge, but her certificate has her new name on it. I asked the officer who did the ceremony why there was no judge and if her new name was legal, and he said it was. We went sent off for a passport without thinking then tried to change her name at our banks and they all tell us they need an official document signed by a judge. What gives, is her name change not legal? Why say it's no longer done but give us the new name? Why lie to us and tell us it's legal when we can't get anything changed?

Did she change her last name to take your last name or did she revert to her maiden name?

If that was the only change then it was legal and your marriage certificate (or a divorce certificate) is all you need to prove that her name was legally changed.

If she made any other changes to her name, then the name change was not legal without a judge's authorization. Your wife's name has not legally changed and the natiralization certificate was printed in the wrong name.

Some USCIS offices no longer schedule judicial ceremonies (San Francisco and San Jose) and apparently Tampa has joined the list. They should have told you that they can't do a name change. At this point, what you need to do is go to your nearest courthouse and apply for a name change. This will not be free and may take a few weeks. Prices differ by city. In Houston it costs about $450 but in New York it costs $65. You will be given a name change certificate signed by a judge.


For a review of each step of my N-400 naturalization process, from application to oath ceremony, please click here.

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Did she change her last name to take your last name or did she revert to her maiden name?

If that was the only change then it was legal and your marriage certificate (or a divorce certificate) is all you need to prove that her name was legally changed.

If she made any other changes to her name, then the name change was not legal without a judge's authorization. Your wife's name has not legally changed and the natiralization certificate was printed in the wrong name.

Some USCIS offices no longer schedule judicial ceremonies (San Francisco and San Jose) and apparently Tampa has joined the list. They should have told you that they can't do a name change. At this point, what you need to do is go to your nearest courthouse and apply for a name change. This will not be free and may take a few weeks. Prices differ by city. In Houston it costs about $450 but in New York it costs $65. You will be given a name change certificate signed by a judge.

Thanks for the reply. We were married in Colombia and she didn't take my name down there. Is she allowed to just take my name without having to go through a judge or not now because the marriage certificate has her old name?

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Thanks for the reply. We were married in Colombia and she didn't take my name down there. Is she allowed to just take my name without having to go through a judge or not now because the marriage certificate has her old name?

It's a little confusing, but I'll try to make it clear.

Fist of all, I'm assuming that the ONLY change she is making is to change her last name to your last name.

For example, you are Alan Greg Phillips and she is Anita Maria Smith and she wants to become Anita Maria Phillips.

If that is the case, then you do not need a legal name change signed by a judge.

Your marriage certificate which shows your name as Alan Greg Phillips and her name as Anita Maria Smith is sufficient proof that she will now be known as Anita Maria Phillips even though that name does not appear anywhere on the certificate.

Actually, if you decide that you want to be Alan Greg Smith, your marriage certificate can serve as proof of that too!

Some organizations aren't really familiar with the rules and may ask for a legal name change anyway, but you should ask to speak to a supervisor if this happens and explain that your marriage certificate is proof of a change of name.

Please see the information here (non-government legal website). Note that this website says that you can also use this procedure for hyphenating your last names, but I don't know if that's true. It also says that a husband can't take his wife's name, but I know that that is NOT true in all states, because someone recently sued for the right to take his wife's last name using a marriage certificate and was allowed to do so by the court.

https://www.legalzoom.com/knowledge/name-change/topic/maiden-name-change

"If you are recently married and would like to change your maiden name, you don't need to file a petition with the court. Instead, your marriage certificate serves as your "proof," and you just need to update the Department of Motor Vehicles, banks, credit cards, etc.

First, you need certified copies of your marriage certificate. A photocopy will not be sufficient. Call the office where your marriage certificate was issued, and ask to get about three certified copies. These will typically have a raised seal on them.

Next, you should use the certified copy of your marriage certificate as proof to change your name with the following government agencies:

  1. Social Security Administration

    You will need to complete Form SS-5 and send it by mail (or deliver it in person) to the Social Security Administration. There is no cost. You can download the form, as well as instructions on how to complete it, by following this link:

    http://www.ssa.gov/online/ss-5.pdf >

    The Social Security Administration will also notify the Internal Revenue Service on your behalf, so you do not need to file anything directly with the IRS.

  2. Department of Motor Vehicles

    Bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate to the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles office, and let them know that you've changed your name. Oftentimes, you will need to personally appear at the office, so make an appointment if possible. You can change the name on your driver's license, as well as the title to any automobile that you own.

  3. Passport

    If your passport was issued one year or less from the date of your marriage, then you will need to complete Form DS-5504 and send it to the US Passport Agency, along with two color photos, a certified copy of your marriage certificate and your old passport:

    http://travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds5504/ds5504_2663.html >

    If your passport was issued more than one year from the date of your marriage, then you will need to complete a different form - DS-82.

    http://travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds82/ds82_843.html >

  4. Other Institutions

    Once you have your new social security card and driver's license, changing your name with other institutions should be fairly straightforward. Some will want proof of marriage, others may want a copy of your new social security card or driver's license. You should contact them individually to see what they require:

    • Banks and other financial institutions
    • Credit cards
    • Post Office
    • Employer (payroll and retirement plans)
    • Voter registration
    • Mortgages / Deeds
    • Insurance policies
    • Utilities
    • State tax authority

The above process is the same if you would like to use a hyphenated last name (with both your maiden name and husband's last name). However, you will need a formal name change petition, filed with the court, if the husband would like to change his name, or if you would like a new last name which is completely different from either your maiden name or the husband's last name."


For a review of each step of my N-400 naturalization process, from application to oath ceremony, please click here.

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I got married in Jamaica last September and on the marriage certificate it has my maiden name. When I was naturalized my certificate was issued with maiden name as I was naturalized right after my wedding and I didn’t have time to opt for a judicial swear in with a judge. When I applied for my passport I just included the marriage certificate and the citizenship certificate and it was done in my married name. She needs to change her SSN first to the married name and then she should be able to change everything else. The marriage certificate is enough to establish the name change. Like person above said- if they say they cannot do it, ask for a supervisor.

Edited by kamw

09/27/14 Married :content:

12/03/14 Became a US citizen :star:

. .

02/25/15 130 Petition sent

02/27/15 NOA1 date :clock:

07/23/15 NOA2 date

08/03/15 Mailed to NVC

08/07/15 NVC Received

08/19/15 Case number assigned, submitted DS-261

08/20/15 Paid AOS bill

08/25/15 Received welcome letter

08/25/15 Sent AOS & IV package

08/31/15 DS-261 reviewed

08/31/15 AOS & IV scan date confirmed by Sup.

09/02/15 Received IV bill by email

09/03/15 Paid IV bill

09/09/15 Submitted DS-260

09/17/15 Case Completed @ NVC

10/06/15 Expedite Request sent to NVC

11/12/15 Contacted Sen. Marco Rubio for assistance with expedite by email

11/19/15 Expedite Approved

12/9/15 Medical

12/11/15 Interview (Approved)

12/14/15 CEAC Status changed to AP

12/15/15 CEAC Status Changed to Issued

12/18/15 Picked up Passport & booked hubby's ticket.

12/31/15 Ring in the New Years together after 4 years!!!! :dancing:

event.png

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