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Chances are you’ll already have a strong opinion as to whether or not you should legally change your last name well before you get engaged.
I personally struggled for about three years before AND after we got married with the decision to legally change my last name or not.
Changing your name in Florida requires filing a petition for name change with the courts, fingerprints, a national criminal background check and possibly a court hearing. You can change your name for any legitimate reason, but not for illegal purposes, such as to avoid paying debts.
If you are changing your name due to marriage, your marriage certificate serves as official proof.
If you wish to change a child’s name due to adoption or paternity action, the final papers will serve as official proof of the name change.
Once you change your name, you should inform the Social Security Administration, banks, schools, DMV, employers, insurance companies any any other entities you interact with.
The procedures for court processes involving minors usually vary somewhat from those involving adults.
Write your name as it appears on your official Florida identification card, date of birth, sex and physical address.

It’s a long story that I might write about here one day, but I felt extremely connected to my last name (as I know a lot of women do as well). You must be age 18 or over, or the parent or guardian of a child whose name will be changed, and live in the county where you, or the child, seek the name change.
You also cannot change to a name that will impact the rights of others or infringe on trademarks or patents. If you are going back to your former name due to divorce, the final divorce decree serves as official proof. Even though when I was a little girl I fantasized about getting married and doodled my fake future husband’s last name after mine, I never really considered having a sort of identity crisis at the thought of doing it. All other adult name changes require you to complete the Florida Petition for Change of Name for an adult, and file it with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where you live. However, if both parents do not agree to the change, the petitioning parent must either obtain written consent from the other parent or serve the other parent with notice of the petition.
When the time came to actually change it, I felt that not only would I be losing a small part of myself if I got rid of my last name, but that I would also be losing my cultural identity in a way (going from a Jewish last name to a non-Jewish one). The clerk of the court will instruct you where to get your fingerprints taken and the process for the criminal background check.

Once filed, the parent(s) must submit to fingerprinting, a criminal background check and a final hearing. While my family actually encouraged me to change my last name (probably trying to get rid of me. If you have been convicted of a crime and your civil rights have been suspended, you cannot change your name until those rights have been restored. Once the court receives the results, it will either grant the name change or set a hearing date. When the judge grants the petition and issues a formal order, the order serves as official proof of the change.
And what made me happy in the end was deciding to drop my middle name and make it my maiden name instead (even though I still go by my maiden name professionally). That was the perfect compromise for myself that has worked out great so far…except when making restaurant reservations, in which I totally forget which name I used.

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