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Last Name Changes and Other Marriage Laws

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, Last Name Changes and Other Marriage Laws
Photo: Antonio Delgado, Flickr Creative Commons

If you are getting married in the Bronx, you should be familiar with the various laws that govern who can get a marriage license and what that process entails. One thing you may not expect is that when you fill out your Bronx marriage license, it will ask you to decide on a surname. One or both parties may choose to change their surnames, but you do not have to change your surname to be legally married.

New York offers three options for surname change:

    One spouse’s surname for both partners
    A surname that combines elements of both spouses’ surnames
    Both spouses’ surnames, separated by hyphen

Having your new last name on your marriage license doesn’t mean you have officially changed your name, however. There are other documents you will need to change in order for your new last name to be official. Many people choose an online name change kit to make sure they have completed all necessary paperwork.

When applying for a marriage license in the Bronx, you also must bring valid photo ID and proof of age. Anyone over the age of 18 can apply for a marriage license. Individuals under the age of 18 must have both parents present when applying for a license, and anyone under 16 years of age also needs the written approval of a judge. Anyone under the age of 14 cannot be married in New York.

You do not have to be a resident of New York to obtain a Bronx marriage license, but proxy marriages are not permitted, which means you and your future spouse must appear in person to apply for your marriage license. In addition, licenses issued within New York State are not valid for ceremonies performed out of state.

There is a 24-hour waiting period after the license is issued before the ceremony can be performed. If you and your prospective spouse must marry before the 24-hour waiting period is over, you can request a Judicial Waiver from the County Clerk in the county or borough where you obtained your marriage license.

When applying, you will need to provide documentation of all previous marriages. This includes your previous spouse’s full name; the date the divorce decree was granted; and the city, state, and country where the divorce was issued. All divorces, annulments, and dissolutions must be finalized before you apply for a new Bronx marriage license. You will also be required to show a certified copy of the divorce decree or other dissolution document.

If you have more questions about obtaining a Bronx marriage license, visit our Bronx marriage laws page. You will find all the information you need, including:

    Accepted forms of ID
    Who can perform wedding ceremonies
    Contact information for clerks’ offices
    Application requirements
    And more!

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