How to legally change your name?

You may be looking for how to legally change your name on legal documents due to several reasons. A few of them may include changing a name after marriage, or changing your name after the divorce, or maybe you want to change your birth name for a business purpose.

Whatever be the reason, you have to submit a petition to begin the process. A legal petition includes legally changing your old name and using your new name. The process and laws may differ across states for what and why would you need to change your name. It’s also necessary to know the restrictions that your state may impose on the type of name you want to change. You should keep in mind that the name you seek, does not affect your financial and state records.

The steps that you should consider changing your name legally are stated below.


Steps to change your name on legal documents

Fill out the forms to legally change your name, these include –

  • A name change form, an order that shows that you are seeking a petition to change your name, and a judgment of changing your name.
  • After filling the forms, you need to take them to the court clerk along with the legal fees required for the process and file them.
  • Most probably a magistrate will look over your submitted forms and applications. They will also be in charge of allowing you to change the name or not.
  • In some states, there will be an advertisement requirement for legally changing your name, before you use your new name officially. The advertisement can easily be posted in the local newspaper.
  • Once you go through all the processes outlined by your state, you can use your new name officially.

Using your new name

You can start using your name officially when you get the court verdict. You can start using your new name by:

  • Giving an introduction of yourself followed by your new name
  • Use your new name in filling out applications and forms
  • Informing your employer, employees, family, friends, school, or other institution to call you by your new name.

You should check other requirements that your state may regulate by visiting the state government clerk office or state government office.

In many states, the name-changing process is rather simple and you can even download required forms from the state government office to fill and submit right away. The question in the forms are rather easy to comprehend and are straightforward that may include mentioning your old name, social security number, new name, the reason for changing the name, and consent that states that you are not seeking the legal process of exchanging your name to a newer one to escape from criminal liability or debt.

Can you change your name to anything you desire?

Generally, there are no restrictions to change your name in any state, but some states employ some exceptions that you must know about. You cannot:

  • Take a new name to escape from criminal liability or debt
  • Put a confusing name that may have punctuations or numerals (although some states allow using numbers in the name but letters, like three instead of 3)
  • Choose your name intentionally to mislead that involves taking names of the celebrities or famous personnel.
  • Choose a name that may include racial slur, abusive, intimidating, or offensive wordings.

What could be the reasons that people want to change their name

Divorce and marriages are some of the common reasons that people want to change their name. Typically, if the reason behind changing your name is your marriage, then you may need to have a marriage certificate. To take your old name back if you happened to be divorced, then you just need a court decree to change your old name back.

Is it required to file the name change in court?

In most cases, states allow you to change your name just by using it right away in the social settings and your surroundings, this does not include any legal liability.

The main problem arises at the government level, financial agencies, credit card frauds, identity thefts, or if there is a threat of terrorist spies. Many agencies would require legal documentation to prove that you are not the same person if your name is similar to the potential criminal. Certain forms or documents with your name including birth certificates, passports, and social security cards will be needed with original and proven identity to save you.

And then again, if you want to change your name legally, check your state’s requirements to avoid ramifications in the future.

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