How to Get a Court Ordered Name Change

By Anne Coletta

So you don't like your name---want to change it? You can legally change your name by filling out a few forms and forking over a few bucks. Legal (also known as court ordered) name changes are handled by state governments through their court systems and each state manages the process, which normally takes about two months, a little differently.

Instructions

Go to your local county courthouse or search your state government website for the required forms. Usually you must file your petition for change of name in your county of residence. Most states also require a copy of your birth certificate or proof of birth.

Fill out the required forms and pay any required fees. On the forms, you must supply your proposed name, and declare that you are not changing your name for any illegal purpose (such as evading debt or a lawsuit, etc.).

Provide an explanation for why you want to change your name. Some reasons might be that your present name is hard to spell, embarrassing or confusing; your proposed name suits you better; or your proposed name is an ancestral name or a combination of family names.

The court will issue an order notifying any interested parties that they must show cause why your petition should NOT be granted. In other words, you have the right to change your name unless someone presents the court with a valid reason why not. You may also have to post legal notices in a local newspaper (for a fee) to announce your name change request.

If no objection is filed within a certain length of time (varies by state) before your hearing date, the court may grant your petition without a hearing.

Check with the court to find out if there will be a hearing. If so, bring copies of all documents to the hearing. If the judge grants your petition, he will sign the original decree and you will have your new legal name.

About the Author

Anne Coletta is a freelance writer in Southern California, specializing in technology and software. Clients include Intuit, Inc. and Qualcomm, Inc. She also created and produced a cable series on government/public affairs for C-SPAN. With more than 20 years of experience, she still enjoys researching and writing about the new and different. Coletta received a Bachelor of Arts in history from Davidson College.

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