Hyphenating a name generally occurs when a woman gets married and keeps her maiden name while taking on her husband's last name. Some women show their marriage license as proof of their newly hyphenated name. However, some states require women to legally change their name through a court process. A legal name change is also required for people who want to hyphenate their names for reasons other than marriage.
Many states provide an informational packet and/or a website that lays out all of the documents that you'll need to file and the steps to follow to legally change your name. Check with your local courthouse to see what assistance is provided.
Name Change Assistance
File a name change petition in probate court or circuit court in the county in which you live. Procedures for legal name changes vary from state to state. In some states, name changes are handled by the circuit court's clerk's office. In other states, the county probate court handles them. Call your local county courthouse to find out which court handles names changes in your area. Also ask about the procedure and cost for filing the petition. Check to see if the court in your area has name change petitions and instructions on the Internet that you can download or that you can pick up in person.
Step 1: File the Name Change Petition
File the request for a name change hearing. Petitions for hearings are filed in the court clerk's office. In some cases, the clerk's office will automatically schedule a court hearing after the name change petition has been filed. Prior to holding a court hearing, some states require applicants to have their fingerprints taken so that police can conduct a criminal background check.
Step 2: Provide Public Notice of Your Name Change Request
Publish the name change hearing form in a local newspaper. States require applicants to place a legal notice of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in their county. After the notice is published, newspapers will give applicants a proof of publication statement to take to court.
Step 3: Attend the Court Hearing
Attend the court hearing. Take a certified birth certificate and the proof of publication statement to show the judge. The judge may answer questions to the applicant about reasons for wanting a name change. If the judge is satisfied with the applicant's information and answers, the judge will sign an order granting the name change.
Step 4: Get Certified Copies of Your Name Change Order
Once your have a court order, file the name change order with the clerk's office. In some states, this is done automatically. Then get at least one certified copy of the name change order for your own record. It's wise to actually order several certified copies of your name change order so that you immediately have one on hand for whomever requires such proof.
Step 5: Send Proof of Your Name Change
Once you have a name change order, you can send and show copies of it as proof of your name change. Generally, in order to change your name on government-issued identification documents such as your driver's license, passport and social security card, you will need to send a certified copy of the name change order to the department that handles name changes.
Besides getting a new driver's license, passport and social security card, you may want to notify employers, banks, credit card companies, utility companies, and other government agencies that you deal with of your legal name change.