- For Attorneys
California has a procedure for amending a marriage record. Amendments are used to correct errors on the marriage certificate;
they may not be used to change information on the certificate.
Amendments can be used to:
• Correct spelling errors.
• Add information to blank items.
Amendments can NOT be used to:
• Completely change first, middle, or last names of either party to
• Add to or delete middle or last names of either party to the
The name information collected on a marriage certificate reflects the
legal names used by the parties prior to marriage, as evidenced to
the County Clerk prior to issuance of the marriage license. The
marriage certificate cannot be amended to reflect the marital name
intended to be used by either party after the marriage.
Common law recognizes the right of a person to change his or her
name without the necessity of legal proceedings. Under common law,
a party to the marriage can change his or her surname by nonfraudulent
usage. However, a common law name change carries with
it no mandate to those with whom one comes in contact to accept at
face value the new name. Some ways to effectuate a common law
name change is to change one’s name on one’s driver’s license,
social security card and passport. Some agencies, such as the
Department of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security Administration,
may accept a certified marriage certificate as proof of identity to use
your spouse’s last name after marriage.
The marriage license is not a contract to bet married. It is a record that the wedding took place and that the parties are legally bound to each other.
It may be possible for her to legally change her name through the courts. As long as not done for an improper purpose, such as avoiding creditors, a name change may be petitioned for and granted. It is a matter of personal choice, assuming you are an adult, and the court doesn't find it against the public interest. If you are a minor, then parental consent provisions apply. The name change process begins with the filing of a Petition for Name Change in the Superior Court where the Petitioner resides. The court will then issue an Order to Show Cause re Name Change which will recite the particulars of the Petition. The Order to Show Cause will direct all persons interested in the name change to appear before the court at a time and place specified to show cause why the name change petition should not be granted. This Order to Show Cause will then be published once a week for four weeks in a newspaper designated within the Order to Show Cause.
If there are no objections filed with the court, the court may, without conducting a hearing, enter the Order Granting Change of Name. If objections are rceived the court will conduct a hearing at the scheduled time and the court may inquire of all interested parties. Thereafter the court may enter whatever order it deems just and proper. The court can grant or dismiss the Petition. Once the Order granting the Petition is signed the Petitioner is free to assume the new name.