ALBANY, NY – Legislation sponsored by Assemblymember Aravella Simotas would amend New York State domestic relations law to allow newlyweds to change their middle name as well as their last name (surname) upon submission of a marriage certificate. The legislation passed in both the Assembly and the Senate and will take effect as soon as it is signed by Governor Cuomo.
Assemblymember Simotas said, “It’s long past time for New York State to allow marrying couples to choose the name change that is right for them. This bill will make all the difference to newlyweds, saving them months or years of unnecessary red tape. What’s more, it shows that New York is ready to maintain its place as a leader in the areas of marriage equality and social policy.”
The measure would amend the law to allow either spouse to choose to change their middle name as well as their last name and specifies that the middle name may be changed to: 1) the current last name of the spouse electing to change their name; or 2) the former last name of the spouse electing to change their name; or 3) the last name of the other spouse. Additionally, the bill would allow a person to revert to using their former middle name in the case of a divorce, as is currently allowed with last names.
The bill addresses a growing trend in which newlyweds wish to retain their last name in some form, sometimes as a new or altered middle name. Many states have already altered their laws to accommodate this trend. With passage of this bill, New York joins them in making it easier for marrying couples to choose what is right for them.
The Simotas bill, also referred to as “Jillian’s Law” is named after former New York State Senate Fellow Jillian Diaz, who found herself struggling to navigate the complex name-change process when she wanted to change her middle name to her maiden name upon marriage. Under provisions of the current law a newlywed wishing to change a middle name either has to go to court or go through a cumbersome process at the Department of Motor Vehicles.