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There are many reasons a person might want to petition for a California Change of Name, but then keep the change and New Name a secret. Some of these reasons are if you’re in a Witness Protection Program, if you and/or your children have been the victim of abuse, if you’re being stalked, if you have reason to fear for your safety or your children’s safety, etc. There are provisions within the California Name Change laws for you and/or your children to be able to Change Names in complete confidence (see California Civil Code §1277 (b) (c) and §1278(b).
The State of California has a highly confidential process available to people with these concerns. If your life or well-being is in danger and you should “disappear” to feel safe, consider participating in the California Safe at Home Program. It is available through the State of California Secretary of State and you can get more information or contact them through their website www.sos.ca.gov/safeathome.
If you have one of the qualifying kinds of dangerous situations you’re contending with, the Safe At Home program has many other services that you’ll probably benefit by too. For instance, they establish an address for you, which is completely detached from where you live and your actual residence remains confidential as well. They can also set up confidential voter registration for you. About 5,000 or so Californians are participants and California’s program has been considered the gold standard of Safe At Home programs around the United States.
If you’re not in that kind of danger, you can still get a Legal Name Change, but the California Name Change laws (CCP Section 1275-1279.5) require you to file, without confidentiality, a California Change of Name Petition and publish a copy of the related Order To Show Cause in a local newspaper of general circulation. The express purpose of the publication is to make the event of your Name Change public, and give anyone in the community a chance to object. Objections are very rare.
Legal Name Change isn’t for everyone. But nearly everyone is eligible. Is it for you? That’s a very personal, and important question. If it is for you, then it’s good to know what you’re getting into, how to get it done…then get ready to move into the rest of your life with the name you chose, on purpose!
Questions, issues or concerns? I'd love to help you!