How to Change Name While in Bankruptcy

If you get married during an ongoing bankruptcy proceeding, you may need to change your name in the case.
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A bankruptcy proceeding will discharge all or part of your unsecured debts. A chapter 7 proceeding can last only a few months, but a chapter 13 case can last up to five years. While many bankruptcy proceedings are short, there may be a time when you need to legally change your name while in the midst of your bankruptcy case. This is relatively simple to do, but will take some paperwork.

Obtain a certified copy of your birth certificate, usually available from the clerk of the county in which you were born or by mail. Some clerks will charge a small fee for a certified birth certificate. It usually takes a few weeks to receive a copy in the mail.

Fill out a name change application form for your jurisdiction. This form is available from your county's circuit court. Fill in your legal information, Social Security number and pay your county's name change fee. Include your birth certificate in your application.

Read More: How Long Before Debt is Discharged After Bankruptcy?

Appear in front of your county's judge. The judge will ask you why you are changing your name and why you have picked the new name. If you have recently married and are changing your last name to that of your new spouse, you can simply answer that you wish to have the same last name as your spouse. If you are changing your name for personal reasons, explain why to the judge. The judge will either grant or deny your name change request.

Change your legal name on your bankruptcy petition documents. Once your new name is registered under your Social Security number, you can change the legal name on your bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy cases are filed by Social Security number, so until the new name has been registered, it is not possible to change the name on your bankruptcy petition. You can, however, modify the petition to include an alias name with your name change.


  • The New York State Unified Court System website offers an outline of name-changing procedures, which is useful regardless of where you live.

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