The exact procedure for getting a name change in Texas will vary depending upon whether you just want to change your name, are changing your last name in connection with a marriage or divorce, are changing the last name of your child, or changing your name for another reason.
Reasons for a Name Change
There are many situations in which an individual might wish to legally change their name, but the following are some of the most common reasons:
- Marriage. If you are simply taking your spouse's last name or adding their name to yours (with or without a hyphen), you can do so in the name-change section of the marriage certificate. No court procedure is needed. Take the marriage certificate to the county clerk's office for filing, along with a government ID and proof of your Social Security number. Fees range from about $30 to $85, depending on the county. Certified copies of the filed marriage certificate can be obtained for an additional fee.
- Divorce. You can request a name change in a petition for divorce or in an answer to a petition for divorce. The name change will be included in the divorce decree. You can then apply for a change of name certificate at the county clerk's office, without having to go to court.
Changing the name of a child under the age of 18 requires essentially the same court procedure as that for an adult. An additional requirement is that the child's parents or legal guardian must consent in writing to the change. Also, if the child is 10 years of age or older, the child must also consent in writing.
Court Name-Change Procedures
You must be at least 18 years of age to file for a name change. For a person under the age of 18, the consent of parents or a legal guardian is required. You will need to file for a name change in the county where you reside.
The court procedure for a name change involves six steps (which require the preparation of two forms):
1. Obtain a Copy of Your Fingerprints and a Background Check
You will need to have your fingerprints taken and submit them to both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The FBI charges $14.75, and the Texas Department of Public Safety charges $15. Contact the court clerk's office for your county to find out where you can get fingerprints taken and where they should be sent. You can also visit www.identogo.com for information about having your prints taken at a “print and go" location.
2. Complete the Form Original Petition for Change of Name of an Adult
This form may be available from the court clerk in the county where you live or from various online sources, including the Texas Young Lawyer's Association Guide to Name Changes and the University of North Texas.
The petition requires the following information:
- Your present full legal name and place of residence
- Your sex, race, and date of birth
- The driver's license number for each driver's license issued in the 10 years before the date of the petition
- Your Social Security number
- The full name you are requesting
- The reason for the name change
- Whether you have ever been convicted of a final felony
- Whether you are subject to the Texas sex-offender registration requirements
- Any assigned FBI number, state identification number, or any other reference number in a criminal history record system that identifies you, if known
- Any offense above the grade of Class C misdemeanor for which you been charged (even if not convicted), along with the case number and court if a warrant was issued or a charging instrument was filed or presented
The petition must be accompanied by a legible and complete set of your fingerprints on a fingerprint-card format acceptable to the Texas Department of Public Safety and the FBI.
Once you have filled in all of the required information, take the petition to a notary public and sign it in the presence of the notary.
3. Complete the Form Order Granting Change of Name of an Adult
This form will be signed by the judge after your court hearing. Fill in the required information, but leave the signature part of the form blank.
4. File the Petition
Make at least three copies of the Original Petition for Name Change of an Adult, your fingerprint card, and the Order Granting Name Change of an Adult. Staple the original fingerprint card to the original, notarized copy of the petition.
Take the original, notarized petition to the court clerk's office and file it. You will need an official form of photo identification. Take the copies with you for the clerk to file-stamp. You will need to pay a filing fee of between $250 and $350, depending on the county in which you live. If you can't afford the fee, you can apply to either pay the fee in installments or have the fee waived.
You will also need to schedule a date and time for the court hearing.
5. Attend the Court Hearing
When you go to the hearing, bring the Order Granting Change of Name of an Adult. Depending on the county, your court file may be sent to the judge, or you may need to get your file from the court clerk and bring it to the hearing. Check with your court clerk's office to find out if the latter is required.
At the hearing, you may need to be sworn in and make a statement before the judge that all of the information in your petition is true and why you are requesting the name change.
If the judge approves your name change, the judge will sign the Order Granting Change of Name of an Adult.
6. File the Order
File the signed order with the court clerk's office. Your name change is now official. Be sure to get at least one certified copy of the file-stamped order from the clerk for your future use. There may be a fee charged for each certified copy of the order.
After Your Name Change Is Official
Once you have the proper documentation to prove your name change, you will need to obtain a new Social Security card, driver's license, vehicle registration, voter registration, and passport.
You must change your name on your driver's license within 30 days of your name change. This is done by taking your original or certified name-change document (marriage license, divorce decree, court order) to the driver's license office.
You cannot change your name on your birth certificate, except to correct a mistake (such as in spelling). If you obtained a court order granting the petition to change your name and gender, you can apply to amend your birth certificate to reflect the gender change only. You will need to file your doctor's letter, a certified copy of the court order, and Form VS170, Application to Amend Birth Certificate with the court clerk's office.
After you complete your name change, you must also notify relevant parties, such as banks, lenders, credit card companies, insurance companies, and your employer. Some places will require a certified copy of the document, while others may accept a photocopy.