Changing Your Name

People who want to change their name may have many different reasons for doing so. The steps to changing your legal name vary according to the reason for wanting to do so.

To change your name from your maiden name to a married name, simply take a copy of your marriage certificate to your local Social Security office.

For changing your last name back to your maiden name after a divorce, you must first have your divorce judgment.  This process is generally done in the clerk’s office at the county courthouse where you live and no special proceeding or hearing is required.

To change a minor child’s name, the parent or legal guardian must file an application to do so with the consent of both parents (if living) unless there is no father listed on the birth certificate.  If no father is listed on the birth certificate, the child must be one year old to have a name change.  If one parent will not give his or her consent, you must consult an attorney to help with the name change process.

To change your name in other circumstances besides divorce, you must have good reason and you must first give 10 days notice of the name change before you turn in your application.  If you are older than 16, the notice will be publicized on a billboard in the courthouse.  After the 10 days, you may then turn in your application which should include proof of good character from two citizens which live in the same county as the applicant if the applicant is older than 16 years old.  The petition must also contain your current name, your desired new name, your reason for wanting to change your name, your date of birth, your county of birth, the full names of both your parents as they appear on their birth certificates, and a statement indicating whether you have ever previously legally changed your name.  The name change will be granted if a clerk agrees that the name change is for good and sufficient reason.  The clerk will then issue a certificate declaring that your name has been changed.  You may use this certificate to change your name on other documents such as Social security card, driver license, and passport.  However, your social security number will remain the same.

Also note that a criminal background check will be conducted before a name change is approved if the applicant is older than 16, and registered sex offenders may not change their name.

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