There are as many reasons to change a name as there are people. Some get divorced and want their old name restored. Sometimes parents of adopted children change their child's last name to their own. And some are born with names they despise and can't wait to get old enough to take action. (A Kansas resident, for example, might get tired of the name "Dorothy").
As in other states, the state of Kansas requires a legal process for a name change, largely to prevent name changes to defraud creditors. District courts have authority to determine the rules and procedures for name changes.
Adult Name Change in Kansas
Kansas residents can change their names in the state by heading to district court. Getting a legal name change is a matter of following the steps set out in the statutes and court rules. The rules are slightly different for minors than for adults, since they cannot petition to change their own name, but must have a parent or guardian do so.
The primary reason that states set out name change hoops is to make sure that the change is made for legitimate reasons. To that end, Kansas law requires plenty of notice in local papers before the court will approve a name change petition. Someone who is sought by the police or who otherwise is trying to hide their identity may consider a name change a means to an end.
Kansas Petition for Name Change
The first step for an adult Kansas resident wishing to change their name is to file a change of name petition. This can be a request to change any of their given names – first, middle or last. In this petition, signed under penalty of perjury similar to an affidavit, the person must set out:
- Current name as noted on their birth certificate.
- Current address.
- Statement affirming residency for 60 days or more in Kansas.
- Year of birth.
- Place of birth.
- Desired new name.
The applicant must also give a reason for the name change and affirm that they are not making the petition "for the purpose of avoiding any debts, obligations or legal process nor is it made for the purpose of misleading or defrauding any person." They must also state that the requested name change will not result in prejudice to any person.
Next Steps in Kansas Name Change Process
Once the Kansas petition for name change is filled out and signed, the applicant should file the original petition, plus one copy, with the clerk of the district court in the county where they reside. A county cover sheet must be filled in and filed with the petition and the filing fee must be paid. The fees differ from county to county.
The clerk will assign the case a number and a court division assignment. At that point, the clerk or administrative assistant for the court to which the case is assigned will set a date and time for hearing. At the same time, they will inform the applicant about the type of notice the court requires.
Notice in Kansas Name Change
Notice in a Kansas name change petition describes the way in which the name change must be publicized. Some courts require the applicant to mail copies of it to all debtors. Others require that the petition be published in a newspaper. Some require both.
Each type of notice has different rules in Kansas:
- Notice by Publication: The applicant must publish notice of the petition and the hearing weekly for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper that is authorized to publish legal notices and in the county where the action is filed.
- Notice by Mail: Copies of the petition and notice of the hearing must be sent by registered mail, return receipt requested. The court will provide a list of those who must be notified, typically all persons interested in the name change, such as current creditors.
When the applicant has noticed the hearing according to county rules, they must present the court with proof that they have done so. For published notice, this is usually a document from the newspaper attesting to the publication. For notice by mail, the return receipts are proof of the mailing.
Attending the Name Change Hearing
Before the hearing date, the applicant fills out the Kansas form called "Order Changing Name" for the court to sign. The applicant must enter certain information on the order:
- Case number.
- Hearing date.
- Current name.
- New name.
- Birthplace and birth year.
- Reason for seeking the name change.
They should not sign nor date the order for name change. The judge will sign and date the court order when the petition is granted. The judge must grant the petition unless they believe the applicant is lying or has the intention to defraud someone.
Name Change on Kansas Birth Certificate
Once a name change petition is property filed, and the judge has signed the order, the applicant can use the new name as their legal name. However, this doesn't automatically change the name on their birth certificate. In fact, changing the name on a birth certificate is not required, but someone who has changed their legal name in Kansas might wish to amend the birth certificate as well.
The Kansas Office of Vital Statistics is in charge of birth certificates in the state. Once the name change petition is granted by the court, the applicant can mail a letter to that office requesting a birth certificate amendment. Along with the letter, they must send a court-stamped copy of the Order Changing Name and the appropriate fee.
Name Change on Other Documents
After a name change, it's likely that the person will also want to change the name on their current driver's license or get a new driver's license using their new name. To do this, they should visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with a court-stamped copy of the Order Changing Name.
Likewise, to change a name on a Social Security Card, an official copy of the Order Changing Name must be sent to the Social Security Administration (SSA) together with the name change request.
Changing a Minor's Name in Kansas
All Kansas residents have the right to change their name, including minors. However, a minor cannot petition for a name change themselves; they must have an adult parent or guardian file the petition on their behalf. The parent or guardian lists themselves on the petition as the minor’s “next friend” and must appear at the name change hearing with the minor.
If the minor's name change is disputed by a parent in a divorce or custody action, the Kansas court appoints a guardian ad litem to represent the child. This is a court-appointed, independent attorney who is charged with representing the child's best interests. Kansas courts appoint guardians ad litem only in name change cases when a child’s name is being changed due to a divorce or custody dispute.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.