There generally are two popular and well-known methods to changing a person’s legal name. The first being through a court certified order and the second being by common law. Under the first, a number of government issued documents and a slight fine are necessary. It also provides for the quickest and most efficient means of changing an individual’s name that is immediately recognizable by financial services, the government, and nearly all businesses. The latter, changing a person’s name by the common law method involves the person, themselves starting to go by a different name on everything. This means anything from how they introduce themselves to what they begin to place on legal documents. We advise using the first method, but we shall give you information on both methods as well as provide some essential other information necessary that you may need when it comes to changing your name.
How to change your name by court order
- File a petition with the district court of your jurisdiction (this is the court where you are domiciled)
- Complete an order for a name change and then give it to a judge to sign.
- Pay the filing fee
When you file a petition with the district court to change your name you will also need to complete an order of a name change. Sometimes this requires a form of photo ID as well, so make sure to bring one when you wish to file. We advise you to call your local district court to determine what documentation you will need as well as to ask what the fee will be for filing for a name change. You can also check your state’s government website. The website should have forms available for you to print online. You can also go to your local courthouse for info. Nevertheless, usually the fee from filing is anywhere from $125-$225 depending on where you live and whether the court will require extra copies. The petition usually only requires your current name, what you wish your new name to be, and sometimes depending on the state, it will ask why you want to change your name.
Again The Following Documents Will Be Required:
- A Petition for Change of Name.
- Document that will require general information from such as your present name, your proposed new name, and the reason you wish to change your name.
- An Order for Change of Name.
- Document requires similar general information and then publishes it at least once a week in a newspaper of your selection. (This is generally done so other parties can object to your name change).
- A Social Security Card.
- A Birth Certificate.
- A Valid Non-Expired Photo ID.
How to change your name through common law
This name change method is simple. It only requires the person that wants to change their name to consistently and exclusively use their new name. This is legal (and do not let anyone tell you otherwise) because a person has a right to use any name they want to. No legal proceedings are involved in this method of changing names. As we touched upon earlier there are negatives associated with this method. Under the common law name change, many governmental jurisdictions may require additional documentation proving a valid name change has been created. Most jurisdictions will be satisfied if you provide them with an affidavit concerning your name change. An affidavit is basically a statement informing them of why you are changing your name, what you’re changing it to, and you promise under the law of the state that it is not solely for illegal purposes. The affidavit must also be signed by yourself and a notary public.
How to change your name on your state birth certificate
A court-ordered name change (as discussed above) is required to alter any name on a birth certificate.
The best and easiest time to change your name is during a marriage or divorce
We are sure you know that a spouse can alter their last name to match that of their significant other when they are married, they can hyphenate their surnames, or they can create a merger of their last names. These of course do not require court orders, a spouse simply needs to write their new last name on their marriage license and to show the government office, your bank, or anyone else asking your marriage certificate. If you ever get divorce, you can simply have your name changed back to your name before the marriage by asking the judge to make that happen at your divorce proceeding. Make sure that it is evident on the decree of dissolution of marriage.
Who should you notify of your new name?
It is of vital importance for you to start using your new name on personal documents, wills, deeds, car titles, home titles, bank accounts, trusts, other financial and non financial accounts, and powers of attorney. You should also notify the following entities of your name change:
- Banks and Other Financial Institutions
- Creditors and Debtors
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- Department of Records or Vital Statistics
- Insurance Agencies
- Passport Office
- Post office (change of address)
- Social Security Administration
- State Taxing Authority
- Telephone and Utility Companies
- Registrar of Voters
- Veterans Administration
When can’t you change your name
You can’t change your name when:
- You can’t change your name to escape debt liability or criminal liability or to commit a crime or to mislead or to do anything illegal.
- You can’t choose a confusing name such as one that has numbers or symbols. Numbers spelled out are usually fine.
- You can’t choose a name that would be considered obscene or that are against public policy such as a racial slur.
You do not need to hire a lawyer to make a name change
Even though you may have to attend a courthouse in order to change your name an attorney is not necessarily. The process is rather simple and a clerk of the court will be able to walk you through the process. If you do think it is to daunting of a task you can also consider outside help from third-party online sites or from local businesses that will do it for you. We advise that you do it yourself however. Many of these sites or businesses will charge you an additional fee from $100 and up just to do a name change which you can simply do yourself at the court.