Changing your name varies in cost, depending on where you live and the process you follow to change your name. Some name changes don't cost anything, but legally changing your name in court costs money. Still, many people change their names for a lot less money than you'd expect.
Here's what you need to know.
How Do You Change Your Name For Free?
People change their names most often when they get married or divorced. In some states, you can list your desired name on your marriage license when you get married. The only cost is the license fee. You can choose your partner's last name, a hyphenated name, or, in some cases, you can combine both last names. In some states, you'll need a court order to create a combination name, but in others, you can legally list the combination name on your marriage license.
In divorce proceedings, you can ask the court to change your name. Women often ask to reinstate their maiden names. Similarly, if a man took his wife's maiden name as his middle name, he may want to remove it. During a divorce proceeding, ask the judge to change your name in the divorce decree, which doesn't cost extra. While not all courts accept name changes for men, it's expected that some states will allow that soon.
An adopted child can usually get a new name during adoption proceedings without having to file a separate name change petition. While other fees apply to divorce and adoption cases, such as filing and legal fees, changing your name or your adopted child's name occurs as a result of your request to the judge. In these situations, you won't have to file a separate name change petition.
What Fees Are Involved To Change a Name?
Name changes cost anywhere from under $100 to more than $500, depending on your state. In many states, fees vary in each county, so check with your local probate, family, or district court clerk. Many states still have fees well under $100. The more populous states have higher costs, which range from $120 to more than $500. The exception is Louisiana, which is at the high end of the spectrum.
If you hire an attorney, you'll also be paying legal fees, although you can use an online legal service to do your county's forms for you. Other fees include money for:
- Certified copies of your court order
- Fingerprint cards, which Texas and other states use
- Background checks—in some states
- Publishing your name change in a local paper—in some states
- Miscellaneous court costs established by your state and county
It's a good idea to get a few certified copies of your court order because you'll have to show them to various agencies and companies.
Changing your name is often easy, but it's more complicated in some states than in others. If you feel uncomfortable doing a name change and can afford the cost, you can hire a family attorney. Make sure to ask the attorney how much money their services cost and how much your county charges for a name change.