If you’re a Wisconsin resident and want to legally change your name, you’ll need to have a Wisconsin circuit court judge approve it. Obtaining a court’s approval will require some preliminary work on your part as there are various forms to file before you can appear before a judge.
Obtain a Petition for Name Change form. All Wisconsin circuit courts require the filing of the petition to initiate a name change case. Prepare the petition on Form CV-450 -- or CV-455 for someone under 14 years old -- and have it notarized. You can obtain copies of both forms, as well as any other forms you need throughout the process, on the Wisconsin Court System website.
Prepare a Notice and Order for Name Change Hearing on Form CV-460.
Fill out an Order for Name Change on Form CV-470. You will complete only the top portion of this form and the judge fills out and signs the bottom portion if she approves your name change. If you need assistance preparing this form, the clerk in the court where you file may be able to do it for you. However, not every court requires the order, so you should check with your local circuit court first.
File Forms CV-460, CV-470 and the petition in your local Wisconsin circuit court. You file the forms at a circuit court located in the county where you reside. All but six counties have at least one circuit court branch, but if you live in Buffalo, Pepin, Florence, Forest, Shawano or Menominee County, your local circuit court may be located in a different county than where you live.
Publish the notice and order in a local newspaper. Once your name change hearing date is scheduled, Wisconsin law requires that you publish a notice of the hearing in a newspaper for three weeks. The newspaper must be published at least once per week in the city or town where you live.
Go to the hearing. You will appear before a circuit court judge who will ask to see proof of your notice publication, which is commonly referred to as the “Affidavit of Publication.” Before signing the Order for Name Change, which is necessary to legally change your name, the judge may also ask you a number of questions about the information you reported on the petition – so be prepared.
File the signed Order for Name Change. The procedures can vary depending on which circuit court branch you’re in, but in all cases, you must take the signed order and have it filed with the court – usually in the clerk’s office.
If you find the Wisconsin name change procedures to be confusing or don’t have the time to obtain and prepare all forms, you may want to consider hiring an online legal services provider.
When taking your husband's last name, it isn't necessary to file a case in court. Your marriage license is sufficient proof of your name change and will be accepted by other government agencies.