How Do I Legally Change My Name in Florida?

By Roberta Senzel

Changing your name in Florida requires filing a petition for name change with the courts, fingerprints, a national criminal background check and possibly a court hearing. You must be age 18 or over, or the parent or guardian of a child whose name will be changed, and live in the county where you, or the child, seek the name change.

Reason for Name Change

You can change your name for any legitimate reason, but not for illegal purposes, such as to avoid paying debts. You also cannot change to a name that will impact the rights of others or infringe on trademarks or patents. For example, you cannot change your name to Miley Cyrus or Disney World. Your new name must contain no numbers, symbols or inappropriate language. If you have been convicted of a crime and your civil rights have been suspended, you cannot change your name until those rights have been restored.

Adult Name Change

If you are changing your name due to marriage, your marriage certificate serves as official proof. If you are going back to your former name due to divorce, the final divorce decree serves as official proof. All other adult name changes require you to complete the Florida Petition for Change of Name for an adult, and file it with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where you live. The clerk of the court will instruct you where to get your fingerprints taken and the process for the criminal background check. Once the court receives the results, it will either grant the name change or set a hearing date. When the judge grants the petition and issues a formal order, the order serves as official proof of the change.

Child Name Change

If you wish to change a child’s name due to adoption or paternity action, the final papers will serve as official proof of the name change. For all other reasons, the child’s parent or guardian must complete and file the Florida Petition for Change of Name for a minor with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the child lives.If both parents agree to the name change, they can file as joint petitioners. However, if both parents do not agree to the change, the petitioning parent must either obtain written consent from the other parent or serve the other parent with notice of the petition. Once filed, the parent(s) must submit to fingerprinting, a criminal background check and a final hearing. The court’s formal order will serve as official proof of the child’s name change.

Notifications & Cost

Once you change your name, you should inform the Social Security Administration, banks, schools, DMV, employers, insurance companies any any other entities you interact with. You can obtain additional copies of the judge’s order for that purpose. Costs for the entire process vary, but generally run between $400 and $700. Fees may include filing, notary, fingerprint and background check fees. Hiring an attorney will add to the cost. Check with the county where you will file for specific requirements and costs.

About the Author

Based in the Washington D.C. Metro area, Roberta Senzel has been a frequent instructor and speaker on legal issues in education over the past 15 years. She also contributes to a blog for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation titled “Dystonia and Special Education.” Senzel has a Juris Doctor (J.D.), as well as a Master of Laws (LL.M.), from the University Of Virginia School Of Law. She is a member of the Virginia State Bar.