Can I change my last name while still married?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I change my last name while still married?

I have been married for going on 11
years and have been legally sperated
for 6 years and cannot receive a
divorce because he will not sign the
divorce papers and is not reliable
enough to stay in one place to track
down in order to receive a divorce I
have been engaged to another man for 5
years and wish to change my last name
to his in the event I cannot receive a
divorce for personal and legal reasons
can I do so in the state of Mississippi

Asked on January 22, 2017 under Family Law, Mississippi


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can change your name to whatever name you wish. That having been said, when a spouse will not sign the divorce papers and/or is hard to locate, the law provides a remedy. First of all, whenever there is a legal action, any person named in it must be given proper notice. In a case such your, this means that you will have to serve your husband in order to give him the opportunity to answer the complaint (that's something that you'll file). However, when a spouse cannot be found, after all reasonable and diligent attempts to do so have been made, they may be served notice via "publication". What this means is that you can ask the judge to allow you put a notice in a newspaper in the area of your husband's last known location. After that, if he fails to respond, you can proceed with the case and a "divorce by default" can be granted at the court's discretion on the terms that you request. At this point, you should speak directly to a divorce attorney in your area who can best advise you further as to all of this.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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