In day-to-day life, you can use your middle name instead of your first name if that's what you prefer. However, to use only your middle name on legal documents, a court has to officially grant a change of name. Every state has its own procedure for changing an adult's name, but the process is similar across the country. Generally, a court will grant a request for a change of name as long as you aren't changing it to commit fraud or for another illegal purpose.
Check the laws in your state for any prerequisites that you must complete before filing a petition to change your name. Not all states have prerequisites, but some do. For example, Colorado requires that you submit your fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for criminal background checks at least 90 days before you can file for a name change. You must then attach the criminal history reports to your name change petition.
Read More: How to Legally Change Your Middle Name
File a petition for a name change with the clerk of the court in your county. States require different things in a petition. Generally, you need to include your current legal name, the requested legal name, your address and the names of people and entities with an interest in the proceedings, such as creditors. State in the petition why you want to change your name and that you are not making the request for fraudulent or illegal purposes.
Follow the procedures in your state for giving notice to the public that you want to change your name. States differ in the exact procedure to use. Most states require publication in a newspaper one or more times. In some states, courts can waive this requirement for small changes such as dropping a first name and using a middle name. Some states require that you send copies of your petition to all your creditors. In other states, such as New York, you don't need to publish your name change in the newspaper until after the court grants your request.
Attend any hearings scheduled by the court. In most states, the court will schedule a hearing on your case and notify you of the date and time. This is the hearing where the judge will either grant or deny your request. In other states, the court may grant your request in writing if no one files an objection with the court.
File an application for a new Social Security card, if the judge grants your request. You must attach a certified copy of the court's order with your application.
Notify the department of vital records in the state in which you were born, if you want to change the name on your birth certificate.
A professional writer, Michael Butler has been writing Web content since 2010. Butler brings expertise in legal and computer issues to his how-to articles. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Washburn University. Butler also has a Juris Doctor from Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington.