The General Name Changing Process in Virginia

     To change your legal name, you must petition the Circuit Court of the county of your residence in Virginia. When at the Circuit Court, you will be required to provide your:

  •  Maiden Name
  •  Current Name
  •  Date of Birth
  •  Social Security Number
  •  County and State of Any Marriage
  •  Father’s Full Legal Name
  •  Mother’s Full Legal Name
  •  Mother’s Maiden Name

     After you provide the court with the necessary information and documents, a name change will normally be accepted for almost any legitimate reason. However, you will not be allowed to change your name for fraudulent or nefarious purposes, like avoiding debts.

Name Change After Marriage in Virginia

     The marital name change process allows you to change your middle and last name but does not allow you to change your first name. A first name change must be done through the general name change process.

     After your marriage ceremony, there is no deadline to change your last name to your new marital name. Whether you decide to initiate the name change process a week, month, or year after the marriage, you will still be able to do so. When you do decide to initiate the name change, you or the minister who married you will file your marriage license with the Circuit Court Clerk. There is no space on the marriage license itself to include your name change, but the Clerk will certify your marriage license, and you will then be able to change your name. Your options for a name change include:

  • Hyphenating both your spouse’s and your last name
  • Using your maiden name as your new middle name
  • Taking your spouse’s last name
  • Creating a new last name for both spouses

     After your marital name change is successful, it is important to obtain certified copies of your marriage license from the court clerk. A certified copy of your marriage license serves as the proof of your name change for the Social Security Agency, the Department of Motor Vehicles, Banks, Post Offices, and many more institutions. All of these institutions will need to be notified of your new name so you can receive your new social security card, driver’s license, bank records, and much more.

Name Change After Divorce

     If you want to change your name due to a divorce, the name change request must be included in your original divorce petition or argued for in-person at your final divorce hearing. The judge will be able to handle the name change for you if it is done in one of these ways. However, if you try to change your name after the divorce process is finished, you will have to change your name through the general name changing process. Smith Strong, PLC law firm can prepare your name change request post-divorce.


     Smith Strong, PLC can assist you in changing your name with a strategic, straight forward approach. Our attorneys can assist you state-wide, whether the name change is for marriage, divorce, post-divorce, or another personal reason. If you would like assistance changing your name for any reason, please call one of our offices at 804-325-1245 (Richmond) or 757-941-4298 (Williamsburg) to discuss your options.


Special thanks to law clerk Brayden Meadows for his editorial and drafting assistance with this article.

H. Van Smith
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Trusted Virginia Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg