Yes. Not often but it’s possible. What would get a judge to turn you down?
Well, consider this one celebrated example. Can you change your name to NJweedman.com? No! That’s because a California Appellate Court said so. In 2011, the 2nd District Appellate Court of California, Division One, upheld a decision denying a Name Change Petition. That Petitioner was Robert Edward Forchion, Jr.
This decision sets outer limits where courts may not be willing to Grant a legal Name Change. It’s interesting because it’s kind of rare for a Name Change Petition to get denied. All 50 states are impacted, since it refers to and supports an earlier decision made in New Jersey.
There’s more than one or two interesting things about this case. The Petitioner was one of the more noticeable characters on two coasts. Here’s why the court said no to him.
NJweedman.com isn’t just the legal name he wanted to take. It was 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:
- To grant the Petition could cause confusion
- Granting the Petition might help the website advise people to break the law
- California, given the history in this case, should give comity/effect to the prior decision in New Jersey
Can Your Name Change be Turned Down?
If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to read at least the background cited in the California Name Change Petition appeal. There is an unusual back-story to this case that’s different and has surprises. And, if you’re considering Name Change and are wondering if your Petition to Change Your Name can be turned down, the full court decision provides lots of detail, facts and reasoning that may give you some clues about your own situation.
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 one small Northern California County alone, there were at least 5 Name Change Petitions filed and awaiting decision when this article was being written. Statistically, none of those 5 will be denied. As the Forchion case shows, however, 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 gave in denying the Petition each serve as a sign post 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”, or 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 and were turned down.
Can Your Name Change be Turned Down?
You may want to change your name legally because your ID doesn’t match. Or, you want to change to the perfect name for your future. There’s an unlimited amount of perfectly good reasons to Change Your Name Legally. Based on our experience, I like your chances to get your New Name approved. But, you have to start:) Tens and Hundreds of Thousands of people get legal Name Changes in California, New Jersey, all the other states … and throughout the world, all the time. It’s a real rarity when someone, Forchion for example, gets told “No”. Start Now?