How do you change your name in the state of New York?

So, you are thinking about changing your name. We can help! 

Remember, your legal name is used on all official documents. You are given a name, usually by your parents, and it is memorialized on your birth certificate.

Today, as part of the process, a Social Security card is issued at birth. This also includes your official name as set forth on your birth certificate. 

Other official documents include your marriage or professional license and your official New York State ID, such as a driver’s license.  It is also used on other official United States documents besides your Social Security Guard, such as your passport, and federal employee ID if applicable. 

In the State of New York, you have the right to change your legal name under certain circumstances and if certain requirements are met. As you might have guessed, there is a legal procedure that must be followed in order change your name.

How do you change your name in the State of New York? 

The first way is through marriage. Either you or your spouse legally change his or her name when procuring a marriage license. The new name that is chosen is put on the marriage license application and becomes your legal name when you are married.

The second way is through divorce.  The Court can enable either spouse to assume any name used before the marriage when the Judge signs off on the Judgment of Divorce. The Judgment of Divorce in New York allows either party to return to a previous family name or surname.

The final way is by obtaining a Court Order which allows you to assume a new name. An individual has the ability to ask the New York State Supreme Court or other Court of appropriate jurisdiction for an Order which legally changes your name to any name you choose. To accomplish that, you must pay the requisite fee and complete and file certain documents with the Court, including:

  • An Index Number Application
  • A certified or original copy of your birth certificate
  • A Name Change Petition
  • A Name Change Order
  • A Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI) 

If you have a criminal conviction, have judgments filed against you, have failed to pay child support, or have filed for bankruptcy, additional documentation will need to be filed and reviewed by the Court before the name change is granted. There is a requirement that once the Order is signed, it must be published in a local newspaper as directed by the Court. Once the directives of the Order are complied with; the name change becomes official.

Getting a court order or changing your name on a marriage license is only part of the process!

When the Order becomes final, get court certified copies of the order or marriage license and send them to the Social Security Administration, the passport office, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and any other agencies that maintain your records, along with any other documents they require. You might also wish to contact the credit reporting agencies.

Only then, will you truly have a legal name of record. Many people forget to provide the court order or marriage license to the appropriate agencies. This only causes confusion and could wreak havoc in your life.

The Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra, PLLC can assist you with preparing and filing your Petition with the Supreme Court of the State of New York and for a legal name change. 

If we are retained to assist you, we will expeditiously complete and file all the necessary paperwork to obtain your new name.

Contact us today!

What is Spear phishing?

Spear phishing scams target business professionals in order to steal their account credentials or install
malicious software. Thieves can then steal client data and the professional’s identity. They particularly like
to use the identity of tax professionals to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

Business professional can use these tips to help protect client data:

  • Use separate personal and business email accounts
  • Protect email accounts with strong passwords and two-factor authentication
  • Install an anti-phishing toolbar to help identify known phishing sites
  • Use security software products with anti-phishing tools
  • Use security software to help protect systems from malware and scan emails for viruses
  • Never open or download attachments from unknown senders, including potential clients, request
    additional information to help verify their identity or call them to confirm the email is from them
  • Send password-protected and encrypted documents only
  • Don’t respond to suspicious or unknown emails; if the phishing email is IRS-related, save the
    email as a file, attach that file to an email, and send to


If you’re looking for more information about how to protect your business from spear phishing, contact The Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra at 914-964-6806!

At what age should I collect Social Security benefits?

You can begin receiving Social Security as early as age 62 but at a lower rate than at your full retirement age .

When you reach full retirement age per the chart below you are entitled to 100% of your benefits has calculated from your lifetime earnings.

  • If you begin collecting Social Security at the maximum age (70 years): Your full retirement benefit will be 32% larger than if you began collection at your full retirement age. The approximate “breakeven point” is age 82, meaning if you live past the age of 82 you’ll wind up collecting more money by waiting until age 70 to collect your maximum benefits as opposed to taking your benefits at full retirement age.
  • Postponing collection of your Social Security retirement benefits: Can provide your spouse with a higher survivor’s benefit.

Everyone’s situation is unique so make sure to consult with a professional before you decide when to start taking Social Security benefits. For more information, contact our office at 914-964-6806.

Looking for senior housing in New York State?

Finding the right type of senior housing and care often causes stress and confusion, and can be time-consuming. provides a very helpful resource guide to finding the right type of senior housing for you or a loved one:

Paying for Assisted Living & Home Care in New York

Cost of Assisted Living in Rochester, New York



In the State of New York, unless there is a prenuptial agreement in place, from the moment you say “I do” any assets accumulated during the marriage are considered marital property, no matter who is responsible for accumulating the assets or how there are titled.1 This includes pensions, IRA’s, 401(k)’s, 403B’s and similar retirement assets.

There are certain exceptions to this rule. For example, if one receives an inheritance during the marriage and keeps its separate this is not considered marital property.

When couples get divorced, each spouse is often entitled to a portion of the pension of the other spouse. For example, if the wife (pensioned spouse) worked as a teacher in a public school, and received a New York State pension as a benefit of employment, the husband (non-pensioned spouse) would be entitled to a portion of it.

How much is the non-pensioned spouse actually entitled to? Simply stated, the non-pensioned spouse is entitled to a percentage of the pension equal to ½ of the pension benefit that accrued while the parties were married. As you can imagine, figuring out exactly how much the non-pensioned spouse is entitled to requires the utilization of a mathematical formula.

Preparing the document which divides the pension typically comes at the end of the divorce process, whether the case goes to a trial or is settled between the parties.

When a divorce case ends a Judgement of Divorce is signed by the judge and entered with the clerk of the court. If the parties settled the case between themselves, the Judgment of Divorce is usually accompanied by a Stipulation of Settlement.

Then another court order, called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or Domestic Relations Order (DRO), must be prepared by your attorney, approved by the applicable pension administrator, signed by the Court and ultimately filed with the pension fund.

This Order relates solely to the division of each spouse’s pension or other retirement assets. (The Judgment of Divorce is the document which officially and legally proves you are divorced, and is signed before the QDRO or DRO is finalized).

The guiding principle in the preparation of this document is that each spouse is entitled to 50% of the pension benefits of the other spouse that accrued during the time of the marriage.

Here is the basic formula:

                Number of months of the marriage

50% x      —————————————-

                Number of months the pensioned spouse was employed

The longer the pensioned spouse was accruing pension time before the marriage and the longer the pensioned spouse works after the date the summons and complaint was filed,2 the smaller the percentage of the non-pensioned spouse receives when the pension attains “pay-out” status. It should be noted that the cutoff date for computing the length of the marriage is typically the date the divorce action, (the filing of the summons and complaint) was filed with the clerk of the court.

Generally, the date used in determining the end of the accrual of the non-pensioned spouse’s property rights is the date the summons and complaint is filed, but that is not always the case.

Often, pension plans will only implement the language of a QDRO or DRO that complies with a certain format. Because of this, as well as the difficulty in factoring in market values and other variables, the QDRO or DRO is usually prepared by a person who specializes in drafting these orders under the guidance of the attorneys for the parties, and with the approval of the pension plan administrator.

Once the QDRO or DRO is prepared, pre-approved by the fund, and signed by the court it is filed with the administrator of the pension fund. The fund administrator is then compelled to implement the language of the order and divide pension between the parties accordingly. Once the order is filed spouse never worked for the company has a property right in that company’s pension fund.

One should always seek alternatives prior to getting divorced but if you truly believe that you have no alternative and that your marriage needs to be dissolved, please let us help you.

Call us today for a divorce attorney! We are knowledgeable, helpful and will always act in your best interests.


• Affected retirement plans

i. IRA’s

ii. 401(a) Plans

iii 401(k) Plans

iii. 403(b) Plans

• An otherwise premature distribution of up to $100,000.00 can be made if:

i. The individual was diagnosed with COVID-19; or

ii. The individual’s spouse was diagnosed with COVID-19; and

iii. The individual has experience- adverse financial consequences due to COVID-19

• With respect to COVID-19 related distributions

i. 10% penalty tax on the early distribution is waived

ii. One can allocate the taxable portion of the distribution over a three-year period

iii. The distribution is not subject to the 20% mandatory federal withholding tax.

iv. The COVID-19 distribution can be repaid within 3 years from the date of receipt..

• One has 180 days beginning on March 27, 2020 to take a loan which is capped at $100,000 less the value of any other outstanding loans.

• Required Minimum Distributions (RMD’s) are waived for 2020, including those that must be taken before April 1, 2020 but only to the extent not distributed before January 1, 2020

If you have questions about how the CARES Act can impact your retirement plan, contact The Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra today!