There are a lot of reasons people consider changing their name, but there are several things to think about before going ahead with it to ensure that your name change is legal and binding.
First, there are two ways to go about changing your name. You can pick out your name and use it constantly until it catches on, called common usage. Or, you can go through the court and change your name legally through a judge.
There is also the matter of regulations on what you can actually change your name to. For instance, you can’t change your name to anything trademarked, like Martha Stewart or Burger King. Also, you can’t change your name to be the same as someone famous, like your favorite actor or actress, and try to use it for capital gain.
You can’t use numbers in your new names like 867-5309 or 911 or anything like that. You can, however, tack roman numerals onto the end of your name if you’d like, such as II, VI or anything else like that.
You also cannot use vulgarities or racial/hate slurs as part of your name. You might know of an entertainer of some sort with a name that falls into this category, but it is most likely a common usage name or nickname, not their legal name.
There are also instances where the court will not allow you to legally change your name. You cannot, for example, change your name for criminal or fraudulent reasons. This is illegal and will be dealt with accordingly. Also, if you are a minor, you can change your name as a result of being adopted or a parental divorce, but the ultimate decision is up to the court.
If none of these limitations apply to you and you’d like to change your name through the court, there are a few things you will need. First, you will need to contact your county court and find out through them what paperwork is required for a name change in your state and what level of court your proceedings will take place in.
Though it varies from state to state, there are a few things you will typically need. First of all, you’ll need a petition for a name change that you file to ensure you meet the requirements for a name change. Also, you’ll obtain an order granting your name change, which will also notify the proper authorities about your name change. A notice of the petition to the public will most likely be an ad in your local newspaper informing the community of your name change.
You may need to obtain an affidavit of consent from your parent or spouse if it applies and if you are an alien or convicted criminal, you will need to obtain affidavit of service of notification to authorities.
These forms are important and what you write on them is legally binding. Make sure all handwriting is legible and make sure you’ve spelled everything correctly. Proofread them before you hand them in. Also, be aware that some documents may need to be notarized which is normally done by what is called a public notary. Your local court can direct you to one.
Make a photocopy of the final documents for your records and keep them in a safe place. Then, file your necessary documents with the clerk of courts. You may have to pay a filing fee.
Once your case gets to a judge, he or she will either approve it immediately or request a hearing. A hearing is typical in some states, so don’t be alarmed. The purpose of the hearing is for the judge to be sure you’re changing your name for the right reasons. The judge signs your petition and gives it to you. If you don’t have a hearing, you’ll have to return to the courthouse to obtain the document. The court will also issue an order granting change of name which you will use as your identification to change your records. There may also be a fee for the issuing of this document.
Be sure to change your name every place you are on file for something. Some people and places to be sure not to forget are: DMV, social security, creditors, IRS, work, insurance, post office, utilities, doctors, lawyers, voter registration, your bank and passport. Be sure to cover all bases.