Can a Man Legally Adopt His Wife’s Last Name When Marrying in California?

EngagementIn California, our state allows both men and women to change their last names when they get married if one or both of them choose to do so.  California is one of only nine states that officially has this equal opportunity law on the books. A recent incident in Florida brought to light the lingering gender discrimination in other parts of the country.  According to news reports, a Florida man was accused of fraud by the state Department of Motor Vehicles after he adopted his wife’s last name following their 2011 marriage. Lazaro Dinh decided to take his wife’s last name rather than vice versa. Lazaro said he had no emotional ties to his last name and he wanted to help his wife’s Vietnamese family perpetuate their surname. After the wedding, Lazaro followed the usual steps to obtain a new passport and Social Security card.  He also changed his bank accounts and credit cards before attempting to obtain a new driver’s license. Lazaro then applied for a new driver’s license the same way female Floridians do when changing their name after marriage.  The Florida DMV issued Lazaro a new license and he went on with life. More than a year later, Lazaro received a letter from Florida’s DMV informing him that his license had been suspended due to an accusation of “obtaining a driving license by fraud”. He first thought it must be a mistake, but when he called the DMV office in Tallahassee he was told that in order to legally change his name he must do so through a court, a process that takes several months and over $400 in filing fees. When Lazaro explained that his name change was the result of a marriage he was told the rule only applied to women. Luckily for Lazaro, the Florida DMV decided not to pursue fraud charges at roughly the same time the news hit the internet. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we will aggressively pursue the best outcome possible for you in your divorce or custody proceedings.  Judy L. Burger is known for her tenacious representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.  If you are a parent facing a divorce or custody dispute, call us today to learn more about how we can help.  Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.