TN 4 (02-08)

PR 02707.041 Oregon

A. PR 11-042 Validity of Name Change Based on Oregon’s Amended Domestic Partnership Statute

DATE: March 3, 2010

1. SYLLABUS

As of January 1, 2010, registration of a domestic partnership in Oregon provides a basis for changing the name on a domestic partner’s SSA record. An individual requesting such a name change should provide a copy of a registered Declaration of Oregon Registered Domestic Partnership form that indicates a legal name change authorized by the Oregon Family Fairness Act. The declaration should also state the individual’s name, new name, and date of birth or age, and indicate the date of registration. In the absence of any of this information, SSA interviewers will require additional evidence to effectuate a name change to SSA records.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether a social security number (SSN) name change can be made based upon registration of a domestic partnership in Oregon after January 1, 2010, when amendments to the Oregon Family Fairness Act took effect. 

SHORT ANSWER

Yes. The Oregon Family Fairness Act, as amended by House Bill 2839 The Oregon Family Fairness Act (House Bill 2007) and House Bill 2839 have yet to be codified in the Oregon Revised Statutes.  (collectively, the Act) permits limited name changes. An individual registering a domestic partnership in Oregon may change his or her surname to the surname of the other partner or a hyphenated combination of the partners’ surnames, and, if doing so, may change his or her middle name to his or her surname prior to the domestic partnership.

SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE

In 2010, J.B. submitted an application to change her surname on her Social Security record to “R.,” along with a copy of a “Declaration of Oregon Registered Domestic Partnership” form she completed with her domestic partner, A.R. The declaration provides that J.B. will take the legal name J.R. after domestic partnership. The declaration bears J.B.’s and A.R.’s notarized signatures.  A Lane County official signed the declaration, indicating registration of the domestic partnership on a specified date in 2010. The declaration also indicates J.B.’s birthplace, date of birth, and age.

ANALYSIS

Name Change Rights of Persons Entering Into Domestic Partnership in Oregon

House Bill 2839 amended the Oregon Family Fairness Act (House Bill 2007) to provide similar legal name change rights to parties entering into a registered domestic partnership as to parties entering into a marriage. Compare H.B. 2839 Sec. 4, with Or. Rev. Stat. § 106.220. Upon entering into a registered domestic partnership, a partner may change his or her surname to that of the other partner or to a hyphenated combination of the surnames of both partners. Id. A partner requesting a surname change may also change the partner’s middle name to his or her surname prior to the domestic partnership. Id. Any other name change requires court approval. Id. The name of each partner after domestic partnership as indicated on the Declaration of Domestic Partnership becomes the sole legal name of each party after domestic partnership. Id. Each partner must state on the declaration the partner’s name after domestic partnership and that the partner is at least 18 years of age.  H.B. 2839 Sec. 3. A notary public must acknowledge the partners’ signatures on the form. Id. 

County clerks must register filed declarations in a registry and return copies of registered declarations and Certificates of Registered Domestic Partnership to the partners. Id. However, county clerks may not register a declaration until the partners provide the information required by the Act on the declaration, pay the required fee, and meet all other legal requirements. Id. Thus, when the Act’s requirements are met, the Act affords limited name change rights to persons entering into registered Oregon domestic partnership and a process for effectuating such name changes.

 SSA Policy Regarding Legal Name Change Evidence Requirements

In general, SSN holders applying for a replacement SSN card to reflect a legal name change must provide evidence of a name change event, new name, and identity. Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RM 00203.210(A)(1); EM-06064.  A single legal name change document is sufficient proof of these three elements if it identifies the SSN holder by the old name shown on the latest Numident “The Numident is SSA’s enumeration information record . . .  It includes name, date of birth, place of birth, parents’ names, and other data.”  POMS RM 00202.320. record, the new name, and biographical information (that is, age/date of birth or parents’ names), and shows that the name change event occurred within the last two years. Id.

The declaration submitted by J.B. contains all the information required by Social Security Administration (SSA) policy; J.B.’s name, new name after domestic partnership, age, date of birth, and the date of registration of the partnership.  The form indicates a name change permitted by the Act.  H.B. 2839 Sec. 4.

Although the declaration form submitted by J.B. calls for the partners to provide biographical information required by SSA policy, such as age and date of birth, the Act merely requires prospective domestic partners to state that they are at least 18 years of age.  H.B. 2839 Sec. 3. As a result, a county clerk could conceivably register a form that lacks the biographical information required by SSA policy.  In that event, interviewers applying SSA policy regarding legal name change evidence requirements would require additional proof of the SSN holder’s identity in order to effectuate a name change to SSA records.  POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1); EM-06064.

CONCLUSION

After January 1, 2010, registration of a domestic partnership in Oregon provides a basis for changing the name on a domestic partner’s SSA record.  An individual requesting such a name change should provide a copy of a registered Declaration of Oregon Registered Domestic Partnership form that indicates a legal name change authorized by the Oregon Family Fairness Act.  The declaration should also state the individual’s name, new name, and date of birth or age, and indicate the date of registration. In the absence of any of this information, SSA interviewers will require additional evidence to effectuate a name change to SSA records.

J.B.’s declaration contains all the information required to support a change to her surname on her SSA record from B. to R. Her record should be changed to reflect her new legal name. 

This opinion can be used as precedent for other SSN name change requests based on registration of a domestic partnership in Oregon. 

B. PR 08-104 Validity of Name Change Based on Oregon's Domestic Partnership Statute - REPLY

DATE: April 17, 2008

1. SYLLABUS

A Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership, entered in the State of Oregon, is not proof of a legal name change. In order to obtain a legal name change, an adult must obtain a court judgment. This court judgment is considered a court order name change document under the evidence requirements for a name change described in RM 00203.210.

This opinion applies to all those requests for a name change based on a Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership in Oregon under the current law.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You have asked whether an Oregon Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership, created under the new Oregon Family Fairness Act, constitutes sufficient evidence to support a name change in SSA's numident data.

SHORT ANSWER

No. Name changes are not specifically granted as a routine aspect of a domestic partnership. However, any adult citizen of Oregon, for any reason, has a statutory right to change names. A state court order for a name change would support a change in numident name data. (4).

SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE

G. B~ entered into a Domestic Partnership with K. B~ G~. on February 5, 2008. The partnership was evidenced by a Declaration of Domestic Partnership entered in Jackson County, Oregon. On March 4, 2008, Ms. B~ submitted an application for a Social Security card requesting a name change to B~ G~. She also submitted a copy of the Declaration of Registered Domestic Partnership.

ANALYSIS

1. Oregon Law of Name Changes

Oregon recognizes marriage, annulment, and divorce as per se bases for an adult to change his or her name. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 107.105, 109.309, 109.360. To change one's name for any other reason, an applicant must obtain a court judgment in the probate or civil court of the county where the applicant is domiciled. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 33.410, 33.420. As an essential element of this process, the applicant must give public notice of the change to permit challenges. Or. Rev. Stat. § 33.420. The court then enters a judgment granting or denying the change. There have been almost no recorded cases challenging the denial of an adult name change. See generally State v. Ford, et al., 172 P. 802 (Or. 1918) (forgery); In re Platzer, 624 P.2d 574 (Or. 1981) (foreign criminal conviction).

2. Oregon's Domestic Partnership Registry

The Oregon legislature enacted House Bill 2007, the Oregon Family Fairness Act (the Act), to grant same sex couples the same access that married couples have to certain rights and benefits, such as those associated with hospital visitation, health care decision-making, organ donation decisions, and other issues related to illness, incapacity, and death. H.B. 2007-A Sec. 9. The new statute contemplates formation of civil contracts known as "domestic partnerships," documented by a Declaration of Registered Domestic Partnership and/or a Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership. H.B. 2007-A Sec. 3, 5, 6.

Pursuant to the Oregon Family Fairness Act, either partner may retain their prior surname or resume a prior legal name during the domestic partnership partnership. H.B. 2007-A Sec. 8. The statute does not provide a mechanism for changing the surname. Individuals in a domestic partnership are granted the same privileges, immunities, rights, or benefits granted to individuals in marriage. H.B. 2007-A Sec. 9. A party to a marriage may change his or her surname to the surname of the other party by indicating on the marriage application, the marriage license, and on the record of marriage the party's new surname after marriage. Or. Rev. Stat. § 106.220(1). Id. If a party does not indicate the change of name on all three documents prior to filing the documents with the county clerk, the only way to change the surname is by a court order. Or. Rev. Stat. § 106.220(2).

A Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership does not have any provision listing a change of surname that can be completed prior to filing with the county clerk. Further, the registration of a domestic partnership does not involve an application, a license, or other record. Thus, while individuals in domestic partnerships are granted all the same privileges, immunities, rights and benefits as do parties to a marriage, the Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership does not meet the requirements for a name change that is required for individuals of a marriage.

Practically, it should be noted that there is a conflict in the manner in which State agencies and local authorities are interpreting the domestic partnership laws and its application to name changes. The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles will make a name change to a driver's license record with presentation of a Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership. See http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/dv/chgname.shtml. Other local government organizations abide by the law as written, informing their constituents that registration of a domestic partnership does not, by itself, authorize a name change, but that a court order is required to do so. See http://www.clackamas.us/recording/domesticfaq/htm.

CONCLUSION

Registration as a domestic partnership does not create an additional legal right to a name change based solely on the fact of registration. A Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership is not proof of a legal name change. In order to obtain a legal name change, an adult must obtain a court judgment. This judgment would satisfy SSA's requirement for changing numident data.

This opinion is not limited solely to this case but has to all those requests for a name change based on a Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership in Oregon under the current law.

C. PR 08-065 Validity of Name Change Based on Oregon's Domestic Partnership Statute - REPLY

DATE: July 11, 2007

1. SYLLABUS

A Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership, entered in the State of Oregon, is not proof of a legal name change. In order to obtain a legal name change, the proper legal proceedings must be initiated resulting in the entry of a judgment for a name change. However, each situation presents its own unique facts and the law should be assessed in consideration of those specific facts. Therefore, any requests by a claimant to change his or her name under the Oregon Family Fairness Act should be submitted to the Office of General Counsel for an official legal opinion. A complete description of the documentation and facts of the case should be submitted along with the request.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You have asked whether an Oregon Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership, created under the new Oregon Family Fairness Act, constitutes sufficient evidence to support a name change in SSA's numident data.

SHORT ANSWER

No. Name changes are not specifically granted as a routine aspect of a domestic partnership. However, any adult citizen of Oregon, for any reason, has a statutory right to change names. The only bar to doing so would be conflict with public interest, for example, to commit forgery. Changing names to match the other domestic partner, or otherwise to enshrine the domestic partnership by name, would not conflict with public interest. Changing names requires a court hearing, public notice of the change, opportunity for challenges to the change, and a court judgment granting the change. This judgment would support a change in numident name data as a Court Order for a Name Change. POMS RM 00203.210(B) (4).

ANALYSIS

1. Oregon Law of Name Changes

Oregon recognizes marriage, annulment, and divorce as per se bases for an adult to change his or her name. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 107.105, 109.309, 109.360 (2007). To change one's name for any other reason, an applicant must obtain a court judgment in the probate or civil court of the county where the applicant is domiciled. ORS §§ 33.410, 33.420 (2007). As an essential element of this process, the applicant must give public notice of the change to permit challenges. ORS § 33.420 (2007). The court then enters a judgment granting or denying the change. There have been almost no recorded cases challenging the denial of an adult name change. See generally State v. Ford, et al., 172 P. 802 (Or. 1918) (forgery); In re Platzer, 624 P.2d 574 (Or. 1981 (foreign criminal conviction).

2. Oregon's Domestic Partnership Registry

The Oregon legislature enacted House Bill 2007, the Oregon Family Fairness Act (the Act), to grant same sex couples the same access that married couples have to certain rights and benefits, such as those associated with hospital visitation, health care decision-making, organ donation decisions, and other issues related to illness, incapacity, and death. H.B. 2007 Sec. 9. The new statute contemplates formation of civil contracts known as "domestic partnerships," documented in Certificates of Registered Domestic Partnership. H.B. 2007 Sec. 3, 5, 6.

Domestic partnership permits either partner to retain the prior surname, but nowhere specifies that any name change is recognized by virtue of the partnership. H.B. 2007 Sec. 8. Thus, a Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership does not, by itself, authorize a name change without an additional order of the court, as outlined above.

Curiously, the opposite sex marriage statutes grant similar tolerance for retention of surname without specifying that a marriage certificate is sufficient to legally change names. Or. Rev. Stat. § 106.220. A new amendment does give name changes for opposite sex marriages specific authentication, but does not give parallel authentication to name changes in domestic partnerships. See H.B. 3120 (NS) Sec. 12, 13. Although this bill has not been enacted, it suggests that name changes are not now, and will not be, presumed to be authenticated by domestic partnerships. Name changes, presumably, would have to be obtained through a court order.

CONCLUSION

Registration as a domestic partnership does not create an additional legal right to a name change based solely on the fact of registration. A Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership is not proof of a legal name change. In order to obtain a legal name change, an adult must obtain a court judgment. This judgment would satisfy SSA's requirement for changing numident data.


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http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1502707041
PR 02707.041 - Oregon - 10/20/2011
Batch run: 10/20/2011
Rev:10/20/2011