How to Find Out If Someone Legally Changed Her Name

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Finding out if someone has changed her birth name by searching court records or hiring a private investigator can answer questions like "how can I find out if someone is legally married?" and "how can I find out someone's name?" Marriage and divorce are not the only reasons for legal name changes.

If you are wondering how to find out someone’s name, there are a few avenues to take to get the answer you're after. Legal name changes are filed with the county court where the person lives, so the first step in any name search should be the court where you believe the name change was filed. If this does not yield the answer you're after, search through the records at the office of vital statistics or hire a private investigator.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Although women are typically the parties to change their names when they marry or divorce, men can, too. The methods employed to find out about a woman's name change can also be used to find information about a man's name change.

Search the Court Records

Typically, legal name changes are available for anybody to view. Court records documenting these name changes may be available to view online or at the courthouse. To find information about an individual’s name change, contact the county court where you believe the individual filed her legal name change, which might or might not be the county where she currently lives.

Anyone wondering how to find out if a person has changed their name might also be wondering: How can I find out if someone is legally married? This is a question that can be answered by reviewing court records. Marriage certificates are public records, so when the search “how to find out if someone changed their name” is tied to an interest in “how can I find out if someone is legally married,” this is the route to go for answers. Similarly, many divorce documents are public records.

An individual seeking information about another’s marital status should keep in mind that a marriage or divorce does not always mean a name change has occurred. He should also look for a name change record for the party of interest, because a marriage or divorce record without a name change record could indicate that the individual is either married or divorced, but that she retained the name she used prior to the marriage or divorce.

Contact the Office of Vital Statistics

The local office of vital statistics can provide similar information to that available from the court. The difference between a search at the court and a search with the office of vital statistics, sometimes known as the office of vital records, is that the seeker can also request a birth certificate, Social Security information, a death certificate and, under certain circumstances, adoption information.

Work With a Private Investigator

Hiring a private investigator is another resource for someone wondering how to find a name. A private investigator can conduct a background check on the individual in question and search all public records regarding her, often more quickly and efficiently than the seeker can do on his own.

Unreliable Ways to Find a Name Change

When seeking information about whether another individual has legally changed her name, the seeker should always keep in mind that the only reliable sources of this information are records from the court or other government entities, like the office of vital statistics. Getting married or divorced does not necessarily mean an individual has changed her name, and her child’s last name or her partner’s last name will not necessarily be the same as her last name.

Other unreliable sources for determining an individual’s surname are:

  • Social media profiles and content.
  • Published works.
  • Employee records and workplace name tags.

Respect Her Right to Privacy

Anybody seeking information about another person’s current legal name and whether she has changed it should accept that it could be impossible to find conclusive answers to inquiries. In some states, such as New York, an individual may request that her name change be sealed, or kept out of the public record, if she feels her safety or her children’s safety would be in danger if it were published. If you're seeking information about another person's possible name change, research the laws surrounding name changes in your jurisdiction and keep in mind that even if you hire a private investigator and search exhaustively, you might never find the information you're seeking.


About the Author

Lindsay Kramer is a freelance writer and editor who has been working in the legal niche since 2012. Her primary focus areas within this niche are family law and personal injury law. Lindsay works closely with a few legal marketing agencies, providing blog posts, website content and marketing materials to law firms across the United States.

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