If you are an adult residing in San Diego, California, you can legally change your name, but you’ll need to follow specific procedures to obtain a court order authorizing the name change. Once approved, you must report your name change to the Social Security Administration and the DMV as well as your banks, creditors and other interested parties. Some secondary schools and colleges may require a copy of the court decree to update your transcripts and other school records. You can obtain the required forms and file them on your own, use the services of an online legal document provider or seek the assistance of a local attorney.
Complete the two required forms – "Petition for Change of Name" and "Order to Show Cause for Change of Name" – and make extra copies of both forms.
Read More: How to Legally Change Your Name Without a Lawyer
Navigate to the California Courts website or use your local telephone book to look up the branch of the California Superior Court closest to where you reside in San Diego. Review the requirements outlined in the form instructions to ensure your paperwork is accurate and complete. Submit the forms to the local court and pay the required filing fee.
Select an approved newspaper from the list provided by the court clerk and arrange to have the newspaper publish a copy of the court form "Order to Show Cause for Change of Name." The purpose of this form is to notify the public that a hearing has been scheduled for your name change request. The notice must appear in the newspaper once a week for at least four weeks prior to the hearing date set by the court. If the hearing date is changed, you may be required to run the notice for another four weeks.
Bring the copies of your completed forms and copies of the published notice to your hearing at your local branch of the California Superior Court. Review your documents and be prepared to answer any questions about your request for a name change.
Make copies of the court’s official decree approving your name change and give these copies to your banks, credit card issuers and government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration and DMV, to prove your name has been legally changed. You will also need to update other records to reflect your name change such as utility bills, retirement accounts, grant deeds and tax records.
The court has the latitude to grant your request for a name change without holding a formal hearing, provided your application form doesn't raise any red flags and no objections have been raised by the public. Confirm the scheduled hearing with the court clerk the day before the court date to determine if the petition was granted without a hearing. If the court issued the decree, pick up your paperwork from the court clerk.
- California Courts: Changing an Adult's Name
- Superior Court of California, County of San Diego: Civil Business Office
- Superior Court of California, County of San Diego: Petition to Change Name or Gender
- California Courts: Order to Show Cause for Change of Name
- California Courts: Decree Changing Name
- California Courts: Decree Changing Name and Gender
Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.