How to Get a Name Change Legally

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People may want to get a name change for different reasons. Unlike changing your name when you get married, which just means notifying the right government agencies of your marriage, choosing to change your name usually requires a court order. Though the laws are different in each state, there is a basic process for you to follow.

Step 1

File a petition for a name change with your local county clerk or courthouse. The forms can be found with the clerk's office or online. Be prepared to pay filing fees as well.

Step 2

Choose a name that is legal in your jurisdiction. Most states will not let a person change their name into something that is slanderous, obscene, confusing or may be used fraudulently.

Step 3

Explain why you're choosing a name change. When filling out a petition for name change you will be required to explain why you want it changed and attest that it is not for the purposes of fraud or escaping an arrest warrant or lawsuit.

Step 4

Publish your petition in a local newspaper. The court will usually give you a paper to use for this purpose. Keep copies of any newspaper posting for use in your hearing.

Step 5

Be prepared for a hearing. Your case will go before a judge who makes the final decision on whether the name change is approved. In some states and counties, individuals appearing in court for a name change must bring two witnesses to verify their identity.

Step 6

Contact companies and government agencies after the name change. This includes the Social Security Administration, the Department of Motor Vehicles, insurance companies, banks, the Post Office and any creditors.


  • Check with your local county clerk to find additional details on legal name changes in your state.


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