Well, it’s been a little over a year since we made our last name changes official and almost all of the dust has settled. So I wanted to reflect a little on the process and share our thoughts where we stand now.
The Legal Process
Back on August 8, 2015, Anthony and I got married in Clearwater, FL. Even before this, we had plans to combine our last names into one so after we said “I Do” we were announced as Mr. and Mrs. Faxlandez.
Fast forward to after returning from our honeymoon we realized we had a bunch of travel (including international travel) coming up. So we put the name change on the back burner for a while.
After a year or two, we begin the process of changing our last names legally in Texas. Ohhhh boy that was going to be a process! It’s been a few years, but from what I recall the process included:
- Fill out the Texas Name Change Petition and Order.
- Sign the petition & order with a Notary Public present.
- Have 2 copies made.
- Have fingerprinting done, a very specific type of fingerprinting that the police station can’t even do. For example we had to go to one of very few offices in all of DFW to get this taken care of. It cost maybe $10 each?
- Once the fingerprint cards are made, mail those off to DPS in Austin for a background check (this process takes a few weeks) along with a soppy of the petition. This step costs something around $30 per person.
- After the fingerprint cards are on file from the background check, you can call the courthouse to schedule the hearing with the judge.
- When the day comes, bring the paperwork to the courthouse and get ready for the hearing with a judge. At this point you pay the fees to file the paperwork. I believe it’s about $200 per person, but from my understanding some judges will allow you to submit the paperwork together if you go in as a couple. The judge will go over the paperwork and approve or decline the name change. Supposedly they won’t ask any questions, but I’ve heard from a few sources that they may.
- If approved, sign all the paperwork and get copies for your own records.
The whole process can be seen in more detail here straight from Collin County’s website. Though the process in each county in Texas will vary!
We started with the initial paperwork and fingerprinting then realized all of the next steps were ridiculous and would cost a ton of money. So we decided to put it off for the time being. Around this time we had decided we wouldn’t be living in Texas forever, so we figured the process would be different once we moved, and wow were we right!
In Summer 2017, we moved to Richmond, Virginia (specifically Chesterfield County), and about 7 months later in January 2018 we had finally settled enough to start looking into the name change process here. Here’s an overview of the steps it would take:
- Fill out application for the name change of an adult.
- Bring the application and the application fee (about $40 per person) to the county courthouse (just a few miles down the road from our house).
- The county clerks and judge take care of the rest! About 2 weeks later in the mail we received the official order signed by the judge.
I have to say, we’re both very pleased with our decision to wait until our move to Virginia was complete to attempt this name change, the whole process was at least 10x easier than it would have been in Texas. No need to meet with the judge, no fingerprinting, no notary (unless you count the county clerk).
Side note: They actually changed my name from Faxlanger back to Faxlanger the first time, whoops! But I went down to the courthouse and let them know and within a few days we had the corrected order in our mailbox.
Seriously this process was so efficient and Texas could probably learn a few things 😉
Updating All The Things
After the ink had dried on our legal name change orders, now came the really fun part: notifying everyone under the sun that our last name had legally changed and obtaining all new documents and cards. Here’s a non-comprehensive list:
- Social Security
- Driver’s License
- All bank accounts and credit cards (I’m getting exhausted just thinking about this again)
- Electricity Company, County Utilities, other bills like phone,
- Work! Automattic had quite a few different places we needed to change our names such as our benefits, travel booking, email, insurance, etc. HR was super helpful here, things went rather smoothly.*
Each organization/business had their own process, but for the most part a picture or scan of the order along with a second method of verification was adequate.
The hardest part, of course, was notifying the dogs, cat, and chameleon that they had a new last name! They got all new collars and tags out of the ordeal so I think they were alright with it in the end.
To this day we’re still discovering places where our last names aren’t updated, but honestly it’s not really a big deal as these tend to be less significant changes, and they usually accept our name change orders with no issue.
* Except that one time Anthony booked his flights to our company’s Grand Meetup with the wrong last name… in his defense he changed it his last name in one place within our travel booking software, but somehow it didn’t update in the more important place? Still a mystery to us!
Overall, I think at this point we’ve both gotten used to our new last names, I’d say at least 99 out of 100 times I type Faxlandez instead of Faxlanger. We have a lot of fun with people’s reactions when we tell them our names… often times followed by a concise explanation of how it came to be.
Sometimes when we return places and have to update my last name (such as our eye doctor), they get pretty confused as if they had misspelled my last name all along. So reassuring them that their processes are fine, we’re just weird, is always a fun task.
Most of the time our last names are met with curiosity (seriously, a lot of people think you can’t just decide to change your last name for some reason). So it’s fun sharing a little bit about our story as we go through life.
As far as pronouncing Faxlandez, well I was already pretty used to people being afraid to pronounce Faxlanger (a frequently used nickname in our family is Fax). So between Faxlanger and Faxlandez, that really hasn’t changed for me. For Anthony I’m sure it’s a little different since Hernandez was a lot more common and straightforward!
Despite all of the work it took, I love sharing a name with Anthony and I love that neither of us had to give up our names entirely to achieve this. We look forward to many, many years of being “The Faxlandezes” er… “The Faxlanger Family”? (OK that part is still weird, still trying to figure that out. Grammar people let me know what’s proper!).