Both adults and children can change their name for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason, LegalZoom makes it easy to legally change your name through the court. Once granted, you can officially use your new name on all government and financial records.
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If you are recently married or divorced and would like to change your maiden name to your married name or vice versa, you do not need to file a petition for a name change with the court. Instead, your marriage certificate or divorce judgment serves as your proof, and you just need to update the Social Security Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles, U.S. Department of State (for your passport), banks, credit card companies, etc. Simply provide a certified copy of your marriage certificate or divorce judgment and file the appropriate paperwork.
However, if the husband would like to change his name, or if you would like a new last name that is completely different from either your maiden name or your husband's last name, you will need to file a formal name change petition with the court.
There are three basic steps to having your name changed by a court. The first step is filing a petition in the proper court with the required forms and paying the filing fee. In most states, the petitioner (the individual making the request) must publish notice in a local newspaper that the petition for name change has been filed. Also, the petitioner may be required to notify specific individuals affected by the name change.
Residency: Most states require residency in the county and state for a certain time prior to filing the action (often at least 6 months).
Legal grounds: A person cannot change their name to defraud any other person.
Jurisdiction: A petition for name change must be filed in the proper court, which is usually in the petitioner's county of residence.
When seeking a name change for a minor, one or both of the minor's parents usually files the petition. If only one parent is filing on behalf of the minor, it is usually helpful, and often required, if the other parent consents to the name change. Complications may arise if the noncustodial parent cannot be located, is incarcerated, or lives out of town. In a minor name change, consideration is given to whether the name change is in the best interests of the minor, and issues such as custody and parental notice are carefully examined.
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