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That’s because a California Appellate Court said so. In 2011, the 2nd District Appellate Court of California, Division One, decided to uphold a lower court decision denying the Petition to change his name legally of Robert Edward Forchion, Jr.
This decision is interesting because it kind of sets an outer limit where courts may not be willing to allow a legal Name Change. And, it’s interesting because it’s kind of rare for a Name Change Petition to get denied. This California case might also affect Petitioners in all 50 states, since it refers to and supports an earlier decision made by courts in New Jersey.
There’s more than one or two interesting things about this case. The Petitioner was one of the more colorful characters on two coasts. I can tell you’re wondering how that could be, because you almost certainly never heard of Robert Edward Forchion, Jr., right?
NJweedman.com isn’t just the legal name he wanted to take. It is also his website, his passion and his lifelong focus. Forchion earned a national nickname (minus the .com, I assume) in the marijuana community, for his activism and advocacy of both medicinal uses and legalization. He has been at the forefront of those efforts for a very long time. According to the summary cited in the California appellate decision, the court denied the Forchion Name Change Petition for 3 basic reasons:
If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to read at least the background cited in the California Name Change Petition appeal at: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/californiastatecases/B227341.PDF . There is an unusual back-story to this case that’s different and interesting. Whatever your presuppositions might be, the real backstory has surprises. And, if you’re considering Name Change and aren’t sure if your Petition might have similar problems, the full court decision provides lots of detail, facts and reasoning that give greater meaning to these issues.
But the California Name Change Petition of Forchion is the exception, far from the rule.
Name Change Petitions are almost always approved in every state. The same is true in California. Hundreds or thousands of Name Change Petitions are being considered in all 58 California counties at any given time. For instance, in Humbolt County alone, there were at least 5 Name Change Petitions filed and awaiting hearing and decision when this article was being written. Statistically, none of those 5 will be denied. As the Forchion case shows, there are reasons a judge might deny a Name Change Petition. The broad strokes of those reasons to deny are written into the California Name Change laws (see Cal. Civ. Cd. §1275-1279.6) and a judge decides whether to grant or deny each Petition.
In the Forchion case, the several reasons the court denied the Petition each serve as a sign posts to show what some reasons to disapprove are. So, if you want to change your name, you might not want to spend the filing fees if you want your New Name to be “google.com”, if your proposed New Name would be “Let’s Rob a Bank”, or if you already tried to change your name to “Oprah Winfrey” in another state court and were turned down.
If your new name is just the one you have already been using, or the name you want to be known as from now on, I like your chances to get your choice of New Names. Tens and Hundreds of Thousands of people get legal Name Changes in California, New Jersey, all 48 other states … and throughout the world, all the time. It’s a real rarity when one, like Forchion, gets told “No”.
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