Note Changing your legal name does not automatically update your driver's license, Social Security card, or any other records. You will have to update these documents individually. See the page on Updating Your Documents After a Name Change for more information.
After marriage, you can take your spouse's last name without applying for a court order. Most organizations in the U.S. will accept a completed marriage license as legal proof of the name change. This is the case even if the marriage license lists your old name on it.
You can only change your name to certain types of names using this process. Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Title 37, Rule 15.23 governs name changes on Texas driver's licenses and IDs. It waives the court order requirement if you want to:
You may have to get a court-ordered name change if you want to change your first name, or if you want get a different last name like:
To order certified copies of your marriage license, contact the county clerk's office where the license was filed.
There is no Texas law about changing your name after an informal (common law) marriage. To change your name on a Texas driver's license or ID, you'll need to provide a marriage license or a marriage verification letter from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). This rule can be found on the Texas Department of Public Safety website.
If you have filed a declaration of informal marriage with the county clerk, DSHS may be able to issue a marriage verification letter. Otherwise, you may have to get a court order to change your legal name.
Please note that a marriage verification letter is not considered legal proof of a marriage. Different institutions may have different policies for what documents they accept.
The following resources explain the law and how to change your name after marriage.
The right to change your name after marriage is based on case law (also known as "common law"), rather than statute. Texas Attorney General has issued several opinions that discuss the legal history of this right.