TN 2 (07-07)

PR 02705.008 Connecticut

A. PR 07-162 Use of Connecticut Civil Union Documents as Name Change Documents

DATE: June 27, 2007

1. Syllabus

A Connecticut civil union certificate may be used in the same manner as a Connecticut marriage certificate as proof of a name change in Connecticut. A civil union is dissolved by a court decree of dissolution or annulment of the civil union, and a civil union dissolution or annulment decree may also be used as proof of a name change.

2. Opinion

This memorandum is in response to your request for an opinion concerning the use of a Connecticut civil union certificate as proof of a name change. Specifically, you requested an opinion as to whether Connecticut state law allows an individual to change his/her legal name after entering into a civil union in Connecticut, and if so, whether there are any restrictions on such name changes and whether the individual must take any additional action to change his/her name to conform with Connecticut state law after entering into a civil union. You also requested an opinion as to the procedures for dissolution of a Connecticut civil union and the type of document(s) that would allow the Agency to change a name back to a former name in the event of the dissolution of a civil union. As set forth below, an individual may change his or her name for any reason in Connecticut. A Connecticut civil union certificate may be used in the same manner as a Connecticut marriage certificate as proof of a name change in Connecticut. No action is necessary to effectuate a name change other than usage, and the only restriction on a name change is that the name change cannot interfere with the rights of others and cannot be made for a fraudulent purpose. A civil union is dissolved by a court decree of dissolution or annulment of the civil union, and a civil union dissolution or annulment decree may also be used as proof of a name change.

Analysis

Connecticut follows the common law with respect to name changes, under which a person may lawfully change his or her name without resort to any legal proceedings where such change does not interfere with the rights of others and is not done for a fraudulent purpose. Custer v. Bonadies, 318 A.2d 639, 640 (Conn. Super. Ct. 1974) (citing 57 Am. Jur. 2d Name §§1, 10). "Connecticut has adopted this rule, which operates independently of any court order and even though there is a statutory procedure for effecting a change of name." C~, 318 A.2d at 640 (citing Don v. Don, 114 A.2d 203, 204 (1955) ("independently of any court order, a person is free to adopt and use any name he sees fit"). The statutory procedure for changing one's name (CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 52-11) "has been interpreted to be permissive and not in derogation of the common law right permitting one to use any name as a designation by which he or she may be known in the community." Honorable Douglas S. L~, M.D. 1975 WL 28470 (Conn. A.G. Jan. 23, 1975) (citing 22 Op. Atty. Gen. 249 (Oct. 17, 1941)). Therefore, under Connecticut law, an individual may change his or her name for any reason, including based on entering into a Connecticut civil union or the dissolution of a Connecticut civil union. The only restriction on such a name change is that the name change cannot interfere with the rights of others and cannot be made for a fraudulent purpose. C~, 318 A.2d at 640; 57 Am. Jur. 2d Name § 16 (2007).

Under common law, a name change is effectuated simply by use of the new name. 57 Am. Jur. 2d Name § 16 (2007); Corpus Juris Secundum, vol. 65, § 21 (2000). Thus, any document showing use of the new name could conceivably serve as an indication that a name change has occurred. See, e.g., CONN. AGENCIES REGS. § 54-240a-2(e) (simply requiring "written notification" of a name change for purposes of the Connecticut Address Confidentiality Program). While an individual may petition the court for a name change under CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 52-11, as discussed above, such a petition is not necessary under Connecticut law. We could find no Connecticut legal authority requiring that an individual take additional action other than usage to change his or her name.

Further, with respect to Connecticut civil unions, under CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 46b-38nn,

Parties to a civil union shall have all the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under law, whether derived from the general statutes, administrative regulations or court rules, policy, common law or any other source of civil law, as are granted to spouses in a marriage, which is defined as the union of one man and one woman.

Connecticut permits the use of an original or certified copy of a marriage certificate as proof of an individual's name or name change. See, e.g., CONN. AGENCIES REGS. § 14-137-63(c) (evidence of name for purposes of obtaining a driver's license); Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles website <http://www.ct.gov/dmv> (supporting documents for a change of name include a certified marriage license). Significantly, CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 46b-38nn applies to benefits derived from administrative regulations, such as the motor vehicle regulation cited above, and even to benefits derived from policy. Therefore, since Connecticut accepts a marriage certificate as proof of a name change, CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 46b-38nn requires that Connecticut also accept a civil union certificate. Our conclusion is confirmed by the email correspondence you have received from the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, acknowledging that the Department does, in fact, permit use of a Connecticut civil union certificate for purposes of proving a name change. Thus, a name change request based upon a Connecticut civil union certificate should be processed under Program Operating Manual System (POMS) RM 00203.210.B and POMS EM 06064 in the same manner as a name change request based upon a Connecticut marriage certificate.

You indicate that a staff member from the Connecticut Department of Public Health stated that a legal name change by a court is required for a party to a civil union to change his or her name. However, this interpretation of Connecticut law is clearly inconsistent with the Connecticut legal authority cited above, as well as the actual practice of at least one Connecticut administrative agency. In fact, our review of the Connecticut Department of Health's own website indicates that a health practitioner licensed in Connecticut may change his or her name on a practitioner license by simply submitting the requested change in writing with no other formal proof. See Department of Public Health Website, < http://www.dph.state.ct.us/Licensure/apps/PLIS/Name_AddressChange.htmerefore, we conclude that the statements of this staff person are erroneous.

With respect to the dissolution of a Connecticut civil union, CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 46b-38oo provides,

Wherever in the general statutes the terms "spouse", "family", "immediate family", "dependent", "next of kin" or any other term that denotes the spousal relationship are used or defined, a party to a civil union shall be included in such use or definition, and wherever in the general statutes, except sections 7-45 and 17b-137a, subdivision (4) of section 45a-727a, and sections 46b-20 to 46b-34, inclusive, 46b-38nn and 46b-150d, the term "marriage" is used or defined, a civil union shall be included in such use or definition.

Thus, Connecticut's statutes concerning dissolution of a marriage apply equally to a Connecticut civil union. See also CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 46b-38nn (granting parties to a civil union with all the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under law, as are granted to spouses in a marriage). In Connecticut a marriage is dissolved by a decree of annulment or dissolution. CONN. GEN. STAT. § 46b-40. Under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-63(a), at the time of entry of a decree dissolving a marriage, upon the request of either party, the court shall restore a person's birth name or former name. The court may also modify a previously issued decree dissolving a marriage to restore a birth name or former name. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-63(b). Since parties to the dissolution of a marriage may request that a court restore a birth name or former name, we conclude that parties to a civil union may as well, by operation of CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. §§ 46b-38nn and 46b-38oo. Connecticut state agencies appear to accept as proof of a name change a certified copy of a divorce decree. See, e.g., Conn. Agencies Regs. § 14-137-63. Therefore, CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 46b-38nn requires that a decree (or modified decree) of dissolution of a civil union also be accepted as proof of a name change. Furthermore, given the common law right to change names for any reason, we conclude that an individual may change his or her name as a result of the dissolution of a civil union without requesting that a court restore a birth name or former name. As previously discussed, under the common law, such a change may be effectuated simply by use of the new name.

Conclusion

Based on the above analysis, we conclude that an individual may change his or her name for any reason in Connecticut. A Connecticut civil union certificate may be used in the same manner as a Connecticut marriage certificate as proof of a name change in Connecticut. No action is necessary to effectuate a name change other than usage, and the only restriction on a name change is that the name change cannot interfere with the rights of others and cannot be made for a fraudulent purpose. A civil union is dissolved by a court decree of dissolution or annulment of the civil union, and a civil union dissolution or annulment decree may also be used as proof of a name change.


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PR 02705.008 - Connecticut - 10/20/2011
Batch run: 10/20/2011
Rev:10/20/2011