California Legislation Regarding Equal Name Change Process

Legislation was approved on Monday in California that would allow men and women to follow the same procedures when changing their surnames, eliminating the time and expense involved with previously required procedures for men. The law passed the Assembly and now goes before the state Senate.

Democratic Assemblywoman Fiona Ma of San Francisco authored the bill after a couple filed a discrimination lawsuit against the state earlier this year, claiming that the process required for the husband to use the wife’s maiden name after they married violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Currently, in order for a man to take his wife’s name, he must file a petition, pay fees of approximately $475, give notice in a local newspaper and appear before a judge. The legislation would require counties to use a form that allows any person to change his or her last name on either a marriage license application or certificate of registered domestic partnership.

Seven other states, including Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York and North Dakota, have statutes that provide equal name change processes for men and women.