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How to Change Your Name After Marriage in Arkansas

Changing My Name After Marriage

There are several social, cultural, religious, and individual reasons why a spouse may choose to take on his/her partner's name after marriage. Among them are presenting as a family unit, aversion to a current name, and simplifying financial, health, and legal matters.

Historically, adopting a partner's name post-wedding has long since been in existence in the western world. But today, some newlyweds may elect to keep their birth names — one reason being the number of legal and administrative processes a person must complete to get a name change in some jurisdictions. Fortunately, these processes are not overly complicated in Arkansas.

Any person who decides to change his/her name after marriage in Arkansas will require a certified copy of their marriage license or marriage certificate — obtainable from the Arkansas Department of Health or county clerk. The individual must also submit some forms to certain local and state offices, and pay associated fees. Arkansas marriage records are considered public information, and can be used to facilitate other legal processes besides name change requests. Interested members of the public may access these records through the state’s courts, local repositories or third-party aggregate sites.

How to Change Your Name After Marriage in Arkansas

Arkansas typically gives intending couples the opportunity to change their names when completing marriage licensing documents at a local county clerk's office — simply by filling in the preferred name in their application. Though a marriage license lets spouses assume a different name after the big day, the name change is not official until the individual notifies the relevant offices, e.g., the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, to update his/her records.

The steps for a name change in Arkansas generally entail:

  • Getting a marriage license
  • Obtaining your marriage certificate. (Typically, this is sent to the spouses after the ceremony within a month. However, the clerk's office can be contacted for copies if that does not happen). The marriage certificate acts as proof of name change. Sometimes, it is referred to as a “certified copy of a marriage license.”
  • Changing your social security card
  • Changing your driver's license
  • Updating your information in other places. For instance, financial institutions, the passport office, insurance companies, credit card companies, utility companies, workplaces, the voter registration bureau, schools, legal documents (e.g., wills), doctor's offices, etc.

The name change process can be tackled individually, with the assistance of a seasoned family law attorney, or with a paid private service or app. People who consider the process burdensome may be more suited to the last two options, especially if their old names exist in so many places.

Spouses who did not request a name change while applying for a marriage license must petition the Arkansas Circuit Court (Ark. Code. Ann. § 9-2-101) to obtain a court order authorizing the modification.

How to Update Your Social Security Card in Arkansas

The first step to legalizing a name change in Arkansas is obtaining a corrected social security (SS) card. An individual engaged in the name change process can do this by downloading a form from the U.S Social Security Administration’s (SSA) website. This application form is called Form SS-5 or Application for a Social Security Card.

The applicant must complete and submit this form with the following:

  • Proof of legal name change document (the certified copy of a marriage certificate or court order).
  • Proof of U.S citizenship (a U.S. birth certificate or passport). However, this only applies if the individual has not yet confirmed U.S. citizenship with the agency.
  • Proof of identity document (a U.S. driver's license, passport, or an Arkansas non-driver identification card).

Note that an identity document is typically required when the name change document is not sufficient to identify the applicant. Any proof of identity document must have the same old name as that in the records held by the SSA. On some occasions, the agency may collect valid documents in one's new name, provided the applicant can be identified in the agency's records.

Also, persons who do not have the proof of identity documents listed above or cannot obtain a replacement within 10 days of the application can submit specific documents that show a name, recent photograph, and age/date of birth. These include:

  • U.S military identification card
  • School identification card
  • Employee identification card, or
  • Health insurance card (not Medicare)

The place of submission is the nearest SSA office in Arkansas. There is no cost for this service. Individuals can hand-deliver or mail the form and documents. There is no online request option with these requests.

The corrected social security card should be mailed to the applicant within 2 to 4 weeks after the agency receives and verifies all submitted information.

How to Get a New Driver's License in Arkansas

After obtaining a corrected social security card, the next step in making a name change official in Arkansas is to get a new driver's license. To do this, the individual must visit a local DMV office. The documents to bring to the office are an updated social security card, current driver's license, proof of name change document (marriage certificate or court order), and proof of identity (e.g., a passport or birth certificate). The applicant will also need to pay a small fee: $10 for a license. However, persons who want to update a state identification (ID) card will pay $5 instead.

Note that the documents above, especially the social security card, are used when updating a Real ID. The applicant will usually only need a marriage certificate if the request is to modify a regular driver's license or state ID.

How to Update Your Insurance Information in Arkansas

Arkansas can sign up for different kinds of insurance coverages, including home, automobile, life, health, and flood. Some are mandatory by law, for example, automobile liability coverage. While others, e.g., homeowners insurance, are by individual preference.

A married person who wants to update insurance information after assuming a different name should call or head to the insurance service provider's office to request the change. Like other name change requests, the individual must provide a marriage certificate or court order, as well as the current policyholder's personal, account, and contact information.

Note that the length of time applicants must wait for this information to be reflected in their records varies according to the provider.

Where Do I Go to Change My Last Name in Arkansas?

Married individuals who did not indicate a name change when applying for a marriage license will have to petition a local Circuit Court to obtain a court order. This petition must be in writing, bear the new name, and state a clear, legitimate reason for the alteration. The order serves as a proof of name change document. Individuals can then take this paperwork to the SSA, DMV, or other government or private institutions to update their records.

There is no standard statewide form for this request. Prospective applicants will have to contact the court for local requirements and processing fees.

How to Update Information With Arkansas Mortgage and Utility Companies

Spouses who want to update their account information with mortgage and utility companies can generally do this by calling or visiting them. Furthermore, most of these companies provide simple forms on their websites. An individual will only need to provide a marriage certificate or court order, or government-issued ID to effect the changes.

What Documents Do I Need to Change My Name After Marriage?

In essence, the main document to legalize a name change in Arkansas after a wedding is the certified copy of a marriage certificate or court order. In the process of actualizing this change, spouses may need to provide other documents—and this varies by the private or public agency where the request is submitted. However, the documents can be classified into three:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of United States nationality or Arkansas residence, and
  • Proof of name change, which is the marriage certificate or court order

How to Get Certified Copies of Your Marriage License in Arkansas

When couples want to get hitched in Arkansas, the county clerk's office is the place to obtain a marriage license. After the ceremony, the issuing clerk's office also provides certified copies to spouses. There is usually no need to request the certified copies from the clerk as it is sent to spouses once the original license has been signed by witnesses, the couple, an officiant, and returned to the clerk by the officiant. If it is not, inquiries can be made to the clerk's office.

For example, in Jefferson County, married couples can submit a written request by mail or in person at the clerk's office. They must also pay a fee of $5 per copy. However, this fee is uniform across counties.

How to Get a New Passport in Arkansas

In Arkansas, obtaining a new passport after a marriage ceremony is a matter of applying to the U.S. Department of State. This request can be to update the passport with a new name or get a new one. This step can be concluded at any time, whether before or after modifying a driver's license or social security card. However, applicants are advised to consider upcoming flight bookings before altering this travel document. This is because airlines will not permit a passenger whose travel reservation or ticket differs from his/her passport to board an aircraft.

Generally, there are three application forms for this change of name request: Forms DS-5504, DS-82, and DS-11. The appropriate form and submission methods depend on the applicant's situation:

  • Persons who are requesting this modification less than one year after their passports were issued must use Form DS-5504.
  • If it is over a year since the passport was released, the appropriate form is DS-82 for persons eligible to renew their passports by mail or DS-11 for persons who can only apply in person.
  • Persons who are already using a new name but cannot record the change with a marriage certificate or court order must complete DS-11. They may also need to submit another form, DS-60.

Detailed instructions, requirements, and accompanying fees for a name change can be found on the agency's Change or Correct a Passport page.

Usually, the following are required no matter the form submitted:

  • A recent color passport photo
  • Most recent U.S passport
  • Original or certified name change document (court order or marriage certificate)
  • Processing fee. However, if the applicant qualifies for Form DS-5504, there is no fee unless requesting expedited service.

The processing time for any application is 10 to 12 weeks. Nevertheless, an applicant can shorten this timeframe to 4 to 6 weeks for an extra $60, also called the expedited service.

How to Change Your Name on Bank Accounts in Arkansas

Bank account holders and other persons with accounts in financial institutions can change their names after marriage by visiting a bank or institution's branch. This is often the best way to make this change. Any interested person should head to the branch with their marriage certificate, updated driver's license, or corrected social security card to talk to a customer care representative. When requesting, the individual should also order new checkbooks, debit cards, or credit cards. Note that bank fees apply for new debit or credit cards.

Afterward, individuals can forward the updated banking information to their employers or human resources (HR) departments.

How Long Does It Take to Change Your Name in Arkansas After Marriage?

In Arkansas, there is no cumulative timeframe for changing a name after marriage. As seen above, there are several agencies to which a name change request must be submitted. Each agency has varying timeframes within which they process these requests. Therefore, the entire process can take months. However, spouses do not have to wait for the change to be official everywhere before informing friends and family to refer to their new names. In some cases, these associates would do this without prompt to satisfy societal and cultural norms.

How Long Does It Take to Change Your Name in Arkansas?

Any individual can request a name change court order from the Arkansas Circuit Courts, provided it is not for fraudulent purposes. Once this order is issued, the individual can assume the new name officially. However, it is difficult to estimate a timeframe for the court, as a party may need to appear for a hearing.

This is the same for other government entities and institutions. However, unlike the court, some of these agencies have specific timeframes between the point of a formal application for a name change and when they alter the applicant's name. Still, given that there are several agencies to submit a name change request, the entire process can run into months—sometimes even longer, and drum up considerable fees, whether an attorney is involved or not.