Changing your name in Texas requires going to court, except in a few situations. If you get married or divorced in the state, you can change your name without filing a separate name change petition. You can simply change your name in your marriage license or in your divorce decree.
In Texas, you can change your first, middle, or last name—or all of them—provided you meet the requirements. You can even add a name to your full name if the court allows it. If you change your name, no one else's name changes—each petition is for the applicant only, so your children's names don't change.
Here's what you need to know to change your name in the Lone Star State.
Requirements to change your name in Texas
To change your name in Texas, you must meet the following requirements and show proof that:
- You're at least 18 years old
- You're filing your petition in your county of residence
- You're not filing with intent to defraud anyone or to avoid creditors
- Your new name is not vulgar
- Your name change is for a good reason, as granting the name change is at the discretion of the court
- You haven't committed a felony
- If you have committed a felony, you've either been pardoned or it's been two years since your release from prison or completion of probation
- You're not a sex offender
- If you are a sex offender, you've notified your local authorities that you want to change your name
- You've provided proof of any felonies and Class A and B misdemeanors to the court
Procedure to change your name in Texas
Name changes take anywhere from a few days to six months, depending on how busy your local district court is. How to do a name change includes the following steps:
1. Complete the adult name change petition. How to fill out the petition is self-explanatory, but make sure you get the adult petition because there are separate petitions to change a child's name. Also, put a checkmark at the top in the box before the words "District Court." Don't sign the petition until you see a notary, who must witness your signature.
Pay the filing fee, unless you filled out a Statement of Inability to Afford Court Costs. The fee varies depending on where you live. Call your district court clerk to find out how much filing the petition costs in your county.
2. Complete the order to change an adult's name. Fill out the order but don't sign it. The court will sign it if they grant your name change petition. If you need assistance with any of the papers, consult an attorney or an online legal service.
3. Have your fingerprints taken. You can find out how, when, and where at the Texas Department of Public Safety, where you can schedule an appointment. There's a fee for getting a fingerprint card and a fee for getting an FBI background check, both of which are required by the court. You'll need to submit a personal, cashier's, or certified check, or a money order with your fingerprint card and the petition.
4. Make copies of the court papers. This includes the petition, fingerprint card, the order, and Statement of Inability to Afford Court Costs, if applicable. Make three copies of your name change documents for your files.
5. File your papers with the court clerk. File the original papers for your name change in your county's district court and bring the copies with you, except for the order, which you'll need to bring to your court hearing. Ask the clerk to stamp your copies as "filed." To see if you can e-file instead, call your district court clerk to find out whether they permit e-filing in name change cases. Don't forget to ask the clerk about your court date.
6. Attend the court hearing. If you don't know when your hearing is, call the clerk. Bring the order and copies, the petition, a copy of the fingerprint card, and proof of age and identity, criminal convictions, probation discharges, and any pardons to your hearing. If you aren't sure what to bring, ask the clerk to help you or obtain legal advice for your name change case. Expect the judge to ask you questions about why you want to change your name, so it's a good idea to have answers ready. If the judge agrees to let you change your name, the judge will sign your order.
7. File the order with the clerk. This is a crucial step; just because your hearing is over, your name isn't officially changed until you file the order. Get at least two certified copies of the order from the clerk because you'll have to show them to different agencies.
8. Change documents to reflect your new name. This includes getting a new Social Security card, driver's license, and car registration. You also need to change your name with voter registration, your banks, credit cards, mail subscriptions, your employer, and insurance companies. Update your retirement accounts, passport, businesses that send you bills, and any other entity that should have your new name.
These steps take time, but they're important. Make sure to change your driver's license within thirty days of your name change. You can't apply for a change to your birth certificate unless there's a mistake with the certificate or there's a gender change.
Other ways to change your name in Texas
If you get married in Texas, you can change your name on your marriage certificate or license without having to go to court. You can get certified copies of your marriage license from the clerk in your local town or city.
You can also change your name in a divorce proceeding without having to file a separate name change petition. Let the judge know you want to use a new name and spell your new name so it becomes part of the divorce decree.
Each state has its own requirements for obtaining a name change. Texas has more requirements than some states, but if you meet all of them and follow the procedure correctly, you should have a new name soon.