Name Changes: Can You Use Your Partner's Name Without Marriage?

In the current times, it is not uncommon to see couples choose to forgo official marriage and opt to live together instead. Typically, most people in these types of living arrangements will keep his or her own last name. However there are some who choose to take on their partner's last name or at least hyphenate the two names together. If you want to do this with your partner, it is easy to make a name change. The following is some information you should know about the process:

Can a Name Change Happen Without Input From a Court?

In some states, you do not have to take any legal measures to change your name. You simply use the last name that you want as you gradually transfer your new name onto all of your documents, bank accounts, and so on. However, some areas are stricter and will require you to show official documentation of a name change. This is especially true when dealing with federal business, such as getting a social security card or a passport.

When is Court Required?

If you want to change any of your legal identification documentation, you will need to go through the courts to have your name officially changed. If you share children, the same process will apply to them. The process is simple and fast. At the courthouse, you will write a petition to change your name and attend a hearing. Once you are approved, you will get an order from the judge that you will need to show when changing your important legal information.

Do Your Need an Attorney?

You do not need to have an attorney to get your named changed. However, there may be an instance when legal assistance is helpful. If you currently reside in a common-law state and want to use the same last name without getting married or entering a common-law marriage, you will need to sign an agreement in order to keep your property separate. If something happens and one of you dies or you choose to break up, the division of property will be much simpler. An attorney can prepare the agreement for you.

Using your partner's last name without getting married is very easy, but it can get complicated if you are together for many years and have accumulated a lot of assets together. If you choose to no longer be a couple, you may want some help to ensure everything is done correctly. A divorce lawyer is always helpful in that regard. When it doubt, seek legal help.