How to Find Out If Someone Legally Changed Her Name

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Find out if someone changed her birth name by searching court records or hiring a private investigator.

People change their names for various reasons, such as adoption, marriage or divorce. If a woman gets married, she can present her marriage certificate to government agencies as evidence of a legal change. While rules differ throughout the United States, most places require that an applicant obtain a certified court order to legally change her names for personal reasons. For example, if someone disliked her birth name, she must file a petition with a local court and explain her request. To find out of someone changed her name, it helps if you know some basic information on the person.

Search Court Records

While court documents are available to the general public, the court might not provide online access. If the person recently moved, also check records where she used to reside.

Review Local Newspaper Notices

You might find past editions at a library or through a newspaper's website. As a precondition for the court approval, the person might have been compelled to post notices or ads that highlight the name change request.

Hire a Private Investigator

Using a private investigator, you can perform a background check and determine if the person legally changed her name. You also can request a background check from an online company, but there is no guarantee that the other names will be disclosed.

Find the Person's Birth Certificate

Search the state’s vital statistics division for the person’s birth certificate. Note that Florida and other states disclose birth certificates only when presented with a court order or a request from the named child, parent or legal guardian.


  • A person can use a different name without legally requesting a change. For example, a person legally named Suzanne might identify herself as Ann, Anna or Susie to the public.


  • Background checks typically involve criminal records, Social Security numbers or residential addresses, so specify that you are interested in court judgments if you hire an investigator.


About the Author

Maggie Gebremichael has been a freelance writer since 2002. She speaks Spanish fluently and resides in Texas. When she is not writing articles for, Gebremichael loves to travel internationally and learn about different cultures. She obtained an undergraduate degree with a focus on anthropology and business from the University of Texas and enjoys writing about her various interests.

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