(Mineola, NY) - Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-Great Neck) recently passed two pieces of legislation in the New York State Senate aimed at giving married couples more flexibility to retain, modify, and create their names at marriage.
Bill sponsor Senator Anna M. Kaplan said "now more than ever, married couples are choosing to forge a new identity together, and sometimes that means joining their last names with or without a hyphen, or adding a surname as a middle name. It's time that our laws on name changes at marriage entered the modern era that New Yorkers have already been living in for years."
The Domestic Relations Law allows a person to change their last name, within certain options, when they get married, by entering their surname on the marriage license application. Currently, the law allows a person getting married to change their name to the other spouse's last name, any former surname of either spouse, a surname combining the spouse's surnames into a single word, or a combination surname separated by a hyphen (e.g. "Meyer-Kurt").
S4622, sponsored by Senator Kaplan, which passed the Senate on March 28th, amends the domestic relations law to allow a person to change their last name to a combination surname separated by a space (e.g. "Meyer Kurt") at the time of marriage.
S2505, sponsored by Senator Kaplan, which passed the Senate on February 27th, amends the domestic relations law and the civil rights law to allow either spouse to change their middle name at the time of marriage. This allows either or both spouses to elect to change a middle name to a current last name, a former last name, or the last name of the other spouse.
Without these changes, individuals or couples who would like to choose such options are forced to file onerous paperwork and extensive documentation with the NYS DMV, a process that has proven to be costly, time consuming, and inconsistent, sometimes necessitating a legal petition that must go to the courts for resolution.
Senator Kaplan concluded "the people of New York deserve a simple and effective way to be able to adopt the married name they choose. By cutting through the red tape, we will help countless newlywed New Yorkers save time, money, and unnecessary frustration."