What is involved in a court ordered name change?
There are three basic steps to having your name changed by a court. The first step is filing an action in the proper court with the applicable forms and fee. In most states, the petitioner (the individual making the request) must publish a notice in a local newspaper stating that the action for name change has been filed. Also, the petitioner may be required to notify specific individuals affected by the name change.
Where is the name change petition filed?
The petition is generally filed in trial court in the petitioner's current county of residence.
Can individuals object to my petition for a name change?
Yes. Any reasonable objections made to the court may influence the court's findings as to whether the change of name is consistent with the public interest.
What are the legal requirements for a 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: An action for name change must be filed in the proper court, which is usually in the petitioner's county of residence.

How is a name change for a minor different from an adult name change?
In the case of individuals seeking a name change for a minor, one or more 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 absent parent consents to the name change. Complicated situations may arise if the non-custodial 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 notices are carefully examined.
Will a name change affect my alimony, child support, social security, or other entitlements?
No. You will still be entitled to those privileges and benefits established under your former name. You must, however, properly inform the necessary agencies of the name change to avoid interruptions in entitlements.
Do I have to go to court to file a name change?
Depending on your state, after filing the initial forms, you may be required to return to the courthouse to file forms proving that notice of the name change has been given to the public and individuals as required by the court. This is usually an affidavit supplied by the newspaper stating the publication dates.
When does a name change go into effect?
The time frame varies, depending on the court and its schedule. A name change can typically be completed in a 60-90 day period.
Do I have to pay a filing fee for a name change?
Yes. All courts require a filing fee, unless the fee is waived, based on hardship or other justification. The amount of the filing fee varies depending upon the jurisdiction.
Why would a name change petition be denied?
A petition would be denied if you were changing your name to avoid judgments, legal actions, debts or obligations. A person cannot change his or her name to defraud any other person.
Who must be given notice of the petition for a name change?
After the name change petition has been filed with the court, you must provide "notice" to anyone who might object, to prevent fraudulent name changes.

Notice requirements fall into two categories:
  • Public Notice through publication, (typically, a general circulation newspaper in your county) informing the public that the petition has been filed and specifying in what court
  • Notice to affected individuals and agencies, such as the petitioner's children or spouse; the natural parents or guardian of a minor seeking a change of name; or criminal records agencies