To legally change your name, you must file a petition in the court of the county where you reside. The clerk will require identification, and schedule a hearing in front of a judge or magistrate. Each court has its own filing requirements and procedure, although all bar a name change for the purpose of fraud or evasion of the police. All will require a filing fee and additional costs according to these requirements.
Each court has a schedule of fees for filing a civil petition, such as that for a change of legal name. These fees are various and changeable; some are set by state law, while others vary from one county court to the next. Throughout the state of Utah, for example, the fee is $360 for a name change petition, while in Maricopa County, Arizona, the fee is $301, but in King County, Washington, the fee is only $150. You can determine the amount of fee by going to the website of the appropriate court, or by simply contacting the clerk's office.
Additional Court Costs
The fee usually includes standard charges such as administrative costs, document fees and taxes, clerk's fees, copying costs and "recording" costs, which are charged to enter the name change order into the public record. If you need to file additional documents in the case, such as motions or affidavits, there may be additional filing fees.
By state laws, you have the right to change your own name; however, if you are filing a name change for a minor, the other parent or a legal guardian may object. In such a contested case, a hearing and litigation will be necessary -- and you may need the services of an attorney to ensure a successful outcome. Attorneys charge either flat fees or hourly rates, which can run several hundred dollars per hour for their work on the case. If you object to the time, paperwork and red tape necessary for a simple name-change petition, you may contact a legal-services company that can complete the forms necessary; these firms charge reasonable flat fees for the service in addition to court costs.
After the hearing on your name-change petition, the presiding judge or magistrate will sign an order. The clerk will enter this order into the record, and will also make available certified copies, for which an additional fee will be due. You should provide a certified copy of this order to Social Security and to the bureau of records in the city or county of your birth, which will attach the name-change order to your original birth certificate. Private companies with whom you have business dealings may also require notification, but usually don't require certified copies.
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images