In the state of Ohio, an adult can request a name change in the probate court of the county in which they live. The petitioner, the person requesting the change, should complete and submit an online application or a paper application to the probate court. The name change process through probate court usually takes between 60 and 90 days after the petitioner files the application.
A divorced person can change their name back to their maiden name that they had before they were married. If the court issues a final divorce decree that the person’s maiden name is restored, then that decree is their legal name change. The petitioner should request a gender change separately from a name change.
What to Provide
A petitioner requesting a name change should provide:
- Current name.
- Proposed new name.
- Reason for name change.
- Case number.
- Marital status.
- Age and date of birth.
- Place of birth.
- Name on their birth certificate.
- Whether they have been convicted of, pleaded guilty to, or been adjudicated a delinquent child for identity fraud.
- Address and phone number.
Additional Information Requirements
The petitioner also must state whether they have a duty to comply with Ohio Revised Code Section 2950.04. This statute requires an offender of a sexually oriented offense to register with the sheriff of their county of residence.
Ohio Revised Code Section 2950.041, requires an offender of a child victim-oriented offense to register with the sheriff of their county of residence.
The petitioner must state that they can read and write English. Alternatively, the petitioner may state that they do not understand written English and request an interpreter to appear at the hearing with them. The petitioner must state their preferred language, which the interpreter must be able to read and write, as well as English.
Information Regarding Spouses and Children
If the petitioner is married or divorced, they must provide:
- Name of their former or present spouse.
- Address of their former or present spouse.
- Names and ages of their children.
- Address of their children.
Explaining the Change of Name
The petitioner must state that there is a reasonable and proper cause for the change of name. They must verify that they are not making the name change for an improper purpose, like avoiding law enforcement authorities, creating confusion as to their identity or avoiding creditors.
Criminal Record Check
The court will check public records to see if the petitioner has a criminal record. A petitioner can hire an attorney to assist them with the name change application. If the petitioner hires an attorney, the application must contain the attorney’s name, address, telephone number and registration number (Ohio bar number).
Residency Requirement for Name Change
Each county imposes a fee for a name change. The amount of the fee varies. For example, in Franklin County, the filing fee is $128, plus the cost of publication. Here, publication means publishing the proposed name change and hearing date and time in a newspaper of general circulation in the county.
Ohio state law requires that a person must live in the county in which they file for a name change for at least one year prior to filing a name change application.
Requirement to Show Photo Identification and Prove Residency
When the person files their application, they are required to provide a copy of a valid government-issued picture ID with a current address. A good example is an Ohio driver’s license or ID card. If the picture ID does not have their current address, the person must provide forms that prove their residency. Examples include:
- Rental agreement for a residential property.
- Bill of sale for purchase of a house.
- Utility bill.
- Information that proves the person lived in Franklin County for at least one year before submitting the application.
Name Change Hearing
A person is required to attend their name change hearing. Hearings are conducted by phone. The court will call the applicant at the phone number the person provides on their application.
The court clerk schedules multiple hearings for the same time, so a person may be called up to an hour after the scheduled start time. The person should have their ID and be available for the call within an hour of the scheduled time.
The magistrate will ask the applicant questions, review the information and render a decision. This means the magistrate will issue a court order to assign the individual a new name.
Postponing a Court Date
If the petitioner cannot appear at the initial scheduled phone hearing, they should arrange for a continuance in writing prior to the date and time of the scheduled hearing. If the petitioner does not appear at the initial scheduled phone hearing and has not arranged for the continuance, they have 30 days to appear and reschedule the hearing.
The application must pay the court costs associated with an entry continuing the hearing. These may vary depending on the county.
If the petitioner does not appear within 30 days of the last scheduled hearing date, the court will close the case, and the petitioner will be required to file a new application with a new publication notice and new payment of court costs.
Changing a Birth Certificate
Under Ohio law, a name change amends the birth certificate. It does not change the original birth certificate. When the court grants a legal name change to a person whose birth occurred in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Health will accept a certified copy of the court-ordered legal name change to update the birth record.
A certified copy is defined as a court order containing a raised seal of the court and/or an original ink signature of the judge. The court will not accept photocopies of a court order or document with the original ink signature of the judge. A change may take four to six weeks to be processed.
A U.S. court must have granted the court order. The name change can have occurred in another state. Some courts may send the certified copy directly to the Ohio Department of Health. Other courts require the petitioner to do so.
Footnote on a Birth Record
Once the Ohio Department of Health accepts the legal name change, it will make a footnote on the birth record. The footnote states the legal name change is on file. The new name as exactly listed on the court order will be the name that is reflected in the updated birth record.
Marriage and Citizenship
An individual who is becoming a U.S. citizen can change their name during the citizenship process. A person who is getting married and wants to change their last name to their spouse’s last name does not need to file a name change with the court.
After an individual obtains a new Social Security card, they may change their name with other agencies. They can also obtain a new driver’s license or state photo ID with their married name.
- Social Security Administration: Application for a Social Security Card
- Butler County Probate Court, Ohio: Name Change
- Butler County Probate Court, Ohio: Instructions for Change of Name of an Adult
- Franklin County Probate Court, Ohio: Adult Name Change
- Ohio Department of Health: Changing or Correcting a Birth Record
- Ohio Revised Code: Section 2950.04 Duty to Register - Form
- Ohio Revised Code: Section 2950.041 Personal Registration With Sheriff
- Ohio Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Motor Vehicles: Declaration of Gender Change
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.