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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]

So, here I am at my brother's lovely new condo. The rest of the family is off exploring Morristown. I should have gone with them, but that would be cramped anyway.

I learned something rather disturbing, at least for those of us who have changed our names for whatever reason. For security reasons, in New Jersey, such people have to present documentation about their name change. Example - my mother. When she got married, she changed her name to my father's, which was pretty darn standard in 1954. Everything she's signed or carried since them - passport, driver's license, check book - has used her married name. Here's the thing - she got married overseas, because my father was stationed in Japan. They had a rabbi, a military chuppa and two Jewish soldiers as witnesses. (Mom, like me, is a Brooklyn girl.)

And her marriage license is long gone. So is their ketubbah and the replacement one. And there was a fire in 1973 which wiped out a lot of military records, including my dad's. Which means there is no documentation on how my mother changed her name. And her driver's license is up for renewal. She can't use the old one as proof, and she can't use her maiden name because there are too many things - 51 years worth of things - in her married name. And if she marries Lenny, that's still no good because you need records of each marriage.

And NJ is the test case. It'll spread to the other states. Now, I have my own marriage license because I did change my name, because 14 years ago, that was relatively simple. I'm guessing, by the number of people who only change their names socially if at all, that it's not so simple any more. My father-in-law changed his name legally before WWII. Now we need to know if he kept those documents.

This disturbs me - how could a 72 year old lady be a threat because she used her married name for 51 years?


I changed not only my last name but my first (due to conversion to Judaism) when I married, and was asked for no proof (according to California law as I understood it at the time). Now I just renewed my license. I almost changed my last name back.

Now, my birth certificate and Social Security card (if I remember correctly) are under my maiden name, and my daughter's birth certificate uses my old first name.

But this is odd, and could be a mess indeed.

You might want to change the name on your Social Security card.

I work for the Disability division of Social Security, and have one case on my desk where the 60 year old woman never changed her last name with us. So when I had to write for records to substantiate her case, the computer put her maiden name (the name we still legally had to use) on all the letters. Since the medical records were in her married name, they all came back "no such patient". I had to re-send them all with her married name as an AKA (once we figured out that was what the problem was) which delayed the process considerably.

I think you can change it with just a phone call. Well worth it to avoid the potential hassle, don't you think?

Thanks for the information. The truth is that as I was typing it struck me that I'm pretty sure I did change it, but I'm going to check, once I decide whether I'll change back to my maiden name because of divorce. (Yes, not knowing whether I changed it is not... brilliant.)

If it's a test case, I honestly don't think it will pass muster. I was obsessed with changing my name when I was a teenager, and it's pretty much a sovereign right--you don't need to present so much as a reason for it. You just start using the new one. Sounds like time to take it to the courts--I doubt it will stand.

Did your mother change the name on her Social Security card? If so, maybe she could get documentation of the change from her local SSA office.

I don't know if they keep a record of WHY you changed your name, but it can't hurt to try, if it becomes an issue.

Of course she changed her name. SOP in 1954. :)

She should be able to get a copy of her marriage license from the city clerk's office that issued it.

But yeah, it's a disturbing precedent.

She got married in Japan, so that's a tad difficult.

My mom had to go through this nonsense in NJ back in 2002, when she renewed her NJ D/L. She had to present her naturalization papers to prove she was in the US legally and prove her identity, and her marriage license to document the name change. Fortunately she had all this paperwork.

This is going to come up more and more. The wonderful state of NJ is going to have to figure out what to do in cases where repositories of records were destroyed, as happens from time to time.

Thank goodness, it's relatively easy to change your name in Texas. When I got married the second time in 1993, I decided to use my maiden name as my middle name for legal purposes and take my husband's last name. I got my social security card changed by showing my marriage license. For the state driver's license, the same, the best I can recall, but I told them the name I wanted to use, and voila! That's what's it's been since.

i changed my last name in MA 2.5 years ago. it went likethis. i filled out pap3rwork for name then and on a different lien name after marriage. it was not my fianccee's name it was a new one we were both taking. once the city clerk got all paperwork we got a marriage certificate. boom, name changed. then i took the certificate as proof to get the SSA card changed and the DL changed etc.

in MA there are 3 ways you can change your name. one is through amarriage certificate, anotehr is through a court, which has a fee, and paperwork, and a mandatory newspaper annoucement. the third way is to jsut start usingyour new name. however you have to convince people to accept it, liek your utilities or credit cards. you can then take the new name proof liek a bill or two to the courts or jsut hte SSA peopel and get a new card. once the SSA has given you a new card, it is proof of name change.

wait...what? i'm confused...

That's very odd. I'm surprised that the precedent of having had a NJ D/L in a particular name for however many years isn't proof enough that she is who she is.

I don't suppose your mom remembers the names of the two Jewish soldiers who were the witnesses at her wedding does she? If so and if they are still alive... maybe she could have a new ketubah drawn up...

Anyway, ultimately, NJ is going to have to figure out what to do for people for whom records have been lost or destroyed.