When getting married, can a woman change her first name without having to file a name change petition with the courts?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Madison, WI

I recently got married, and I am changing my first name as well as taking his last name. I had no problems doing this with SSA, and have already received a new SS card with my new name. The WI DMV, however, is refusing to make the first-name change on my driver's license without a court order. I am unsure as to how to proceed. I was under the impression that a woman could change her name when she got married without having to pay a court filing fee. Is this not true if it includes a first-name change? Do I have any recourse or options for changing my first name with the DMV? Or, is it at all possible to obtain a legal name change from the court using my marriage certificate (without paying the filing and notification fee?) How should I proceed from here? Thank you.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Nicholas J.B. Pasquale


    Contributor Level 12


    Lawyers agree


    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . Unfortunately, you are not permitted to change your first name through any other avenue than a civil name change action filed with the circuit court. This is evidenced by the the court's lack of power to restore a first name in the event of divorce. Under sec. 767.395, Wis. Stats., the divorce court only has the authority to restore a spouse's former surname (last name).

    My answer does not automatically make me your attorney or create a former-client/current-client relationship with... more
  2. Hillary Johns

    Contributor Level 19


    Lawyer agrees


    Answered . First name, no. You'd have to petition the court for that. Fortunately, it's relatively common so you can do so with the appropriate forms. I'm licensed in California although they're usually online.

    Congratulations on your marriage and many years of happiness I hope are ahead of you.

    Ms. Johns can be reached at her Woodland Hills and San Diego offices at (866) 402-4038. Her email is hjohns@... more

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