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Gerald-Esquire, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 3991
Experience:  30 years of experience
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My husband and I live in DC and would like to shorten /

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Hello - my husband and I live in DC and would like to shorten / combine our last names. E.g., He's Watersonski, I'm Jones, we'll both be the Water Jones. Can we go through social security since its a change due to marriage or not since 1) he's also changing his name and 2) we're shortening a name, not just taking one or the other full name
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Also as one additional question - if we don't change our names and have a baby while living in Washington DC, would we be able to give the baby the last name "Water Jones" or would it have to be the full last names "Watersonski Jones"


I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. Congratulations!

If you BOTH noted on your marriage license that you intended to use the shortened name going forward, you can provide take copies of the marriage certificate and your identification down to Social Security to get new ID cards issued, and you'll be able to change the name on your driver's license/other documentation just with the marriage documents. Check with each agency before contacting them to see what documentation they need - some want an original marriage license, and some keep it, so you may need more than one.

Name changes made due to marriage that are not noted on the marriage certificate must be made by going to the local family court and filing a Petition for Change of Name. In that scenario, you wouldn't be able to get new ID in your married name without a court order, even though the change was due to the marriage.

There are no laws regarding what a parent can name a child. The child does not need to share a last name with either child. You're allowed to write whatever you like on the birth certificate.

If you have any questions or concerns about my response, please reply WITHOUT RATING. It's important that you are 100% satisfied with my courtesy and professionalism. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so I am paid for the time I spend answering questions. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to scroll to the right. There is no charge for follow-up questions. Thank you.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ok - thanks so much. For the court ordered change, is it generally an easy thing to get through or should I get a lawyers assistance? If lawyer - what type of lawyer should I look for? Thanks again!

It's generally pretty easy. You have to post notice of the proposed change in the newspaper for a few weeks, and then you have to go to court and represent that you're not changing your name for any inappropriate purpose, such as to defraud your creditors. You and your spouse can file at the same time and ask that your hearings be at the same time. Your marriage certificate - and the fact that the name your changing to is clearly a combination of the two - means that the judge should essentially rubber stamp it.

The instructions are available here:

Here is the form:

Did you have any other questions about this?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I found a law in DC that contradicts with what you said and need clarification. The law is here -

I apologize, but since I was never paid for this question, I'm not able to provide any clarification or assistance. Perhaps another expert would be willing to step in.

Have a good day.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I'm sorry - I wasn't aware you weren't paid. justanswer has my charge info and never said I needed to confirm anything that I saw. Did I miss anything?


Thank you for your patience and thank you for using Just Answer. I want to provide you the best service I can. Please feel free to ask any follow up questions you have.

I am an attorney with 30 years of experience; I hope to provide you information that will help you in resolving your question.

In regard to the name change you will want to go to court and complete the forms as indicated by the first expert. It is not complicated and it is not expensive. In order to get your Social Security and Driver's license changed you will need the court document.

In regard to giving the child a different name than your own the DC laws require you to identify the last names of the the parents at the time of birth. If you have not changed your name before the child is born you will have to petition to do that when you petition to change your own name. So waiting is going to be more complicated and expensive.

As a practical matter changing the child's name informally on the birth certificate causes problems later on with school registration etc. So if this is something that is important to you you should do it sooner not later.

I hope the information I provide is useful to you. I want you to be comfortable and satisfied with my attempt to assist you. Please, if you have ANY follow up questions, feel free to ask. Please note that I am generally unavailable Friday evening through Sunday.

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Good luck.

Please note: Information is educational and not given as legal advice. Only your local attorney can give legal advice. I can't establish or accept an attorney-client relationship with you. All posts are available for public viewing.

Kind regards,


Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thanks Gerald. If my husband and I do not change our names (now or ever), will we be able to give the child the name "Water Jones" vs Watersonski Jones.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
This is the relevant guidance I found - two questions I have would a shortened version of one name still meet the "combination of names"If not - what does "sign an affidavit attesting to the familial connection" entail? Could it be rejected? Is it literally just signing a document saying we have a familial reason for using this name


Thank you for your patience. I was called away for a bit.

Generally the combination of names is a hyphenated version. BUT the law does not specifically state that. So you can combine the names in a shortened way that you describe: Water Jones. It will NOT be rejected.

As long as one of your names is clearly connected to the child (in your example "Jones") the affidavit should not be necessary. BUT signing the affidavit is not a big deal. It is merely a form that is signed in front of a Notary. No need for an attorney.

Again it will NOT be rejected.

Kind regards,


While we still have strong vestiges of the father having the surname passed to the child they are merely customary vestiges. So if your last name becomes the ostensible last name of your child "Water Jones" or "Water-Jones" it will be fine. (Otherwise the city would be subject to a discrimination (gender/sex) complaint. They really do not want that.

Good luck.

Kind regards,


Customer: replied 8 months ago.
That's true even if I don't change my name.So my name stays Jones
My husbands stay Waterinski
Baby is Water-JonesThanks so much for picking through the nuance with me

Yes. This is true even if you do not change your name. You can use Water Jones and Water will look like it is a Middle name OR you can hyphenate Water-Jones (this is the combination name that we discussed).

It is possible (not likely) that you may need to sign the affidavit - but that is not a big deal to do. I really suspect that it won't be called into question because your legal surname is ***** ***** in the child's name.

I hope this additional information is helpful to you.

Kind regards,


(Please do not forget to rate me – click the five stars. It adds nothing additional to your costs, but it helps me greatly. Plus it is good Karma for you. Thank you.)

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Great - thank you!

You are very welcome.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
The rating is now blacked out - it looks like I can only do it when you're the last one to respond so please send me another note so I can rate. Thanks!

OKAY. Thank you.

Gerald-Esquire, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 3991
Experience: 30 years of experience
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