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Family Name Change – California Residents

How to Change Family Name in California

Family Name Change is a Superior court process. How to change a family name in California will depend on how many people will be changing family names, their ages and where they all live now. A single adult, or many family members, living together or not, can legally change last names. A last name change is often called a Family Name Change. When more than one person in a family is changing names at the same time, that’s also called a Family Name Change. We do lots of them. We’ve learned how to do it by trial and error over a long period of time and all over the State of California. All the courts have different rules about it. Because we’re in touch with the courts all the time, we can give you the most recent information about how your particular Family Name Change will work.

We’ve helped a family of 9 (both parents and seven children), parents with children from prior marriages; single mothers; adoptive families; same-sex couples; fiancées before marriage; spouses who changed their mind after marriage; and many, many others. We’ve probably helped others with situations just like yours.

Because families have different situations, and courts have different rules about family name changes, you might want to call or email us to find out how your family can get the Legal Name Change you want. It’s a little complicated and isn’t free, but you can do this! Family Name Change is life changing…and in a very good way.

Whole Family Name Change

You can, in fact, legally change the last names of your whole family, including each family member. People do that for many deeply personal and important reasons. Sometimes, one or more of the family changes a first or middle name at the same time, which is also completely allowed. Your family may want to retake an ancestral name. Or, maybe your current last name has bad associations or another side of your family has a last name you want to carry on. You may have a spiritual, religious or numerological motivation. Maybe you’ve chosen a new family name for your family path going forward. These whole family name changes can be done. It’s a question of where you live, the number of adults and children, and the rules for the court that will process it.

New Family Name Change – Adults and Children

Adults and/or Children can get a new family name change so that you have the last name you want for life ahead. In California, either spouse can take the family name of the other in the marriage license, but children can’t do that. With or without marriage, either adult and any children can have the new family name through the Superior Court process. Again, it’s a little bit complicated, but it’s great when all the adults and all the children in your family can have the same last name.

Step Family Name Change

A step father is the real father in many family situations. A Step Family Name Change is just the right way to help 1 or more children to be a family member more completely. A minor child can get a last name change of the biological parent Petitions for Change of Name. The Step parent is always very involved in a Step Family Name Change, but the biological parent is the Petition signer. A step family name change benefits everyone in the step family because the shared family name is recognition of the real family, inside the family and to everyone else also.

Taking New Family Name

In life, people change families sometimes. Sometimes a person has no family, and then joins one or helps make a new one. Some people want to chart a new path and a new family identity for their lives to come. Taking a new family name is an important part of being in a new family. Taking a new family name is a symbol that has great and personal meaning to each member of the family and to everyone else around them.

Re-Taking Ancestral Heritage Family Name

Re-taking your family’s ancestral name can be a deeply personal and important goal. You can do it through the legal name change process. Everyone’s ancestors had a name that is different from our own now. In some families, the last names are different just a generation or two ago. For some, you may have to go back farther to find the change, but it’s there.

Reclaiming Your Family Name

Reclaiming your family name, by changing your own last name to a recent or distant name your family used to have, lets you connect across time to your ancestors. With the family name change process, you (and other members of your current family) can have that name back for every legal purpose. Whether your family name got changed 30 years ago or 500 years ago, you can reclaim it now.

Family Name Change for California Residents

For Family Name Change, prepare a collection of Forms, called a Petition for Change of Name. File them with the Civil Unlimited filing clerk in the County Superior Court for where your family lives. Family captioning must be done a certain way, so get assistance if you can. The Court will set a Hearing for Your Name Change. Before that Hearing, you must have a qualified newspaper run a legal notice of the Hearing for 4 consecutive weeks. Your judge gets a confidential criminal history assessment report on you, and has all your information from the Petition. Usually, the judge approves Your Family Name Change at your Hearing. You get your Certified Copy(s) right after you get your signed Decree in the same courthouse. For a fuller explanation of the process, click here

Social Security, DMV, Passports and other government and financial entities want each of you to show them a Certified Copy of your Court Order (actually called a Decree Changing Name). When you do, they will give each of you new documents with Your New Legal Name.

It will take you 5-30 minutes to complete our Questionnaire, depending on your Family size. EZ Name Change takes 1 business day to review your information, properly prepare a complete Family Petition, customized to Your Court’s local requirements and your particular Name Change. Family Name Change in California takes about 2 1/2 months to get your Court Order, from the day you start to the day you have your Court Order, upon approval. Technically, there’s between 6 and 12 weeks from the day your Petition is fully Filed to your Hearing date. That time frame can be a little longer, depending on the court’s schedule and yours. Some courts are backed up due to budget cut and crowded case loads. Your Family Hearing and decision can be delayed if your paperwork is incomplete, inaccurate or your background raises questions that haven’t been resolved by the Hearing date.
Family Name Change costs vary a lot, depending on how many family members are involved and how many are adults. Costs also vary based on where you all live, which newspaper is chosen, and how many Certified Copies you get. Its *about $715 (Full Service) or 1 person, if we help you, and about $525 or more, if you do everything yourself.. There can be significant discounts for multiple people, depending on current local court policies, so you need to find out court policy where you live. The family discounts aren’t available everywhere and depend on doing the Petition correctly where they are available. Court fees are usually the biggest part of family name change costs. Court fees can be waived if you qualify because of low income (ask us about court fee waiver forms if you think you may qualify). For itemization of costs for 1 person, click here for Full Service, We can give costs for families when we know your particular family size, age and location. *Costs for court vary between $435 and $480 throughout the state, depending on the county where you live now. Costs for newspaper publishing are usually about $90-$150, but can reach $400-$500 in some rural areas.
All California Name Change Courts allow Family Name Change requests that court fees be waived. Fee Waiver Requests are for people who can’t afford the court fees and also pay for their regular monthly household living expenses at the same time. The court makes that decision. Submit all the right forms to have the Court consider your Request to Waive Fees. The Court requires a properly completed Petition before they will consider Granting a Request to Waive Court Fees. EZ Name Change will complete all your Fee Waiver Request Forms, without any extra charges, if we are helping you with your Petition. You just need to let us know you want to apply for Court Fee Waivers. You can see a blank Fee Waiver Form here, or use this link to print it out for your own use or review.
For Family Name Change, any truthful reason that doesn’t cause deceit, harm or fraud is likely to be an acceptable one. To give you some relative perspective: In 2011, a Petition for Change of Name was denied because the proposed New Legal Name was going to be the name of a real website, complete with “.com”. The court ruled that a Legal Name is permanent (unless legally changed again), whereas a website is not. The ownership or registration of a website could be changed over and over. In such a case, the person and the website could be hopelessly confused or even deceptive. Court’s won’t likely allow you to get a name that is intended to mislead (such as adopting a celebrity’s name), that is intentionally confusing, or that incites violence. Nor can one adopt, as a name, a racial slur, a threat, or an obscenity. Your reason is probably perfectly fine! Ready to get that going?
This is a common condition. Unfortunately it can cause delays, aggravation, and other trouble in different financial, travel, security, employment and other situations. Fortunately, Legal Name Change can clear and clean it all up fully. If you gather up all the different variations, and correctly include them within a Petition for Change of Name, you can get a Decree Changing Name to the 1 Name you want to be using for every purpose. It should be your goal to have one single Legal Name. “AKAs” listed can clean up differing variations, particularly for Social Security and/or DMV. You can have, for your New “universal” Legal Names, pet names, or nicknames, or any sort of informal names you want. Each of you should choose one name you want officially and legally. Then, get a Court Order and change over your ID and other Records. That’s the way to minimize any potential for disruption or delay, due to your Name, as you go about your life. Take your Certified Decree Decree Changing Name, and go change all your important records. Take it to each government, financial and every other office where your ID and Official Records are kept, and have your chosen Legal Name uniformly reflected in all those places. Be sure to have your Decree done correctly. Then, it works. No more aggravating delays and disruption as you’re all moving around your lives.

Yes, but it’s relatively rare.

To give you some relative perspective:

If your documents are incomplete or substantially incorrect, or if you don’t file in the correct court, don’t expect approval. For those of you on parole or probation, you will likely need written support from your agent or officer. If the judge thinks your name change will cause harm or injury, you will likely be denied. Unresolved criminal history problems will usually cause denial. The Court dismisses your case if you are required to attend a Hearing, but don’t go to it.

The California Name Change laws (CCP 1275-1279.6) will tell you all the rules. CCP 1279.5 is especially important to anyone with unresolved criminal history problems.  For more information about the possibility of getting turned down, see “Can My Name Change Be Denied?”

Your Petition approval should happen if you followed all the Name Change rules and aren’t trying to get away with something or cause harm . Of course, your judge will always be the one to make that decision. And, you do actually have to Start Your Name Change to make it a reality!

If you want new ID or Official Records of your Name Changed, you will probably need a court order to do it. For a small change to Your Name with Social Security, or School, or DMV, or Passport, just ask them to do it and find out. If they tell you to get a court order, then you need a “Legal Name Change”. Family Name Change usually is for all of you changing last names. But, it can be for first and/or middle names too. Even if you want just one letter changed, or even if one of you just wants your first name changed around with your middle name…those are all Legal Name Changes. When you Petition for Change of Name, you can propose changing your name just a little, or completely. The Reason that requires a Court Order is not how much of a change you want. It’s whether you want to require someone to honor the change you want. Some places won’t do it unless you bring them a properly Certified order from a California Superior Court. Social Security, DMV and Schools usually require that you present them with that Certified Court Order. A Court Order, or Decree Changing Name (which is a type of court order), All the primary government agencies will issue you new ID when you give them a Name Change Court Order. They will ask you to hand them a Certified Copy, which you will get at the end of this process upon approval of a judge. All 50 states honor the Certified, California Decree Changing Name. The Federal Government, and all other governments honor it too.
A LOT of people are born with one name, but grow up using another name. Since 9/11, that situation has become a problem Licensing, Registration, Security, Employment and other 21st century considerations. Clean up, and clear up those problems with a Petition for Change of Name. The successful end of that process puts a Certified Court Order in your hands. You must do it correctly. Then just take your Decree Changing Name to who ever is flagging you..and the problem will end. This kind of problem didn’t start with 9/11. Americans have always been having name changes or variations when growing up. The 38th President of the United States was born Leslie Lynch King. You’ve never heard of President King though. That’s because he filed a Name Change Petition and legally changed his name to the one he grew up using….Gerald Ford. Let’s make that President Gerald Ford. With Full Service, it’ll take about 2 1/2 months and about $820 (total, 2 people). Court Order Name Change fixes the problem. Legally and permanently.

Can I Change More Than One Child’s Name At The Same Time?
Yes. It’s much more economical than doing them separately. If one are more parents are also going to be Changing Names, then you still want to do it all in a Family Petition. See the additional information about Changing just Children’s Names (not parent(s) too),

What if some of us have different last names now?
As long as you are a Family, living together in California now, we can process you together. It’s quite common, in the 21st century, for a family to have parents with different last names and possibly children who have different last names too. If all the court forms are properly completed and the information needed by the judge is properly presented, you should be able to come out of the process with exactly the Family Names you want. That’s easy to say, but not so easy to do without EZ Full Service.

Name Change or Name and Gender Change

There are two different kinds of Petitions that seek to Change a Person’s Name to conform to Gender Identity. Each one has a very different set of Forms and results. Both of these types can be processed as part of a Family Name Change or on their own.

Petition for Change of Name (only)

If you wish to change your name, in order to conform your name to your gender identity (without also seeking to change your gender marker at the same time), then you can do that. When this type of Adult or Minor Child Name Change Petition is prepared, you don’t need to advertise or attend a Hearing at the court (see CCP 1277(a)(5) and 1278(a)(2)). However, courts are interpreting and processing these types of Petitions in different ways so far. If you don’t mind doing the advertising  or going to the Hearing (Name and Gender Change only), doing so will eliminate those sort of processing snafus. We have had to help many of our Gender Identity Petition customers turn around improperly processed Petitions of this type.  So far, we have a 100% success rate and expect to keep it that way.

Petition for Change of Name and Gender

This type of Adult or Minor Child Name Change Petition is for people choosing to change their name and gender marker AFTER completing clinically appropriate treatment. And, in addition to all the Name Change information, remember to include a Physician Declaration. All the same laws apply to this type of Petition as apply to all other types (CCP 1275-1279.6), plus the Health and Safety Code, Sections 103430 and 103435. The Name Change Laws (CCP 1275-1279.6) exempt appearance OR Advertising  for petitions seeking to conform to gender Identity. In contrast, the Petition for Change of Name and Gender does not explicitly state it’s to conform to gender identity. As stated above, if you don’t mind doing the Advertising and/or going to the Hearing, the court processing problems, if any, will likely be eliminated.

The Health and Safety Code Sections 103430 and 103435 state that the judge may examine the Name and Gender Change Petitioner (103430(b)). It further provides that, for this type of Petition, the Order to Show Cause Form shall not include the petition to recognize the change of gender (103435). These provisions have led to some Petition derailments. EZ Name and Gender Change customers (through 2017) have never been denied due to Advertising or Hearing appearance.

For additional information, please see Transgender Name Change.

Name Change for 2 or More Family Members
In California, you can change the names of multiple family members at the same time. We’ve successfully helped a Family of 9. Families change names for many different reasons, just like individuals do. After remarriage, children and/or spouses may want to share last names all together. Sometimes couples, or whole families, want to retake an ancestral name. Or, sometimes a young couple wants to take their own new family name to pursue their shared future. Lots of different and good reasons.

At EZ Name Change, we’re very experienced at California Family Name Change. You choose the names and give us the information…we’ll take you the rest of the way there. For specific details about Family Name Change costs and time frames, give us a call at 818 505-6189. Or, send us your situation and questions by emai for a quick and detailed response.

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EZ Name Change California

Providing Services in All 58 Counties

Only EZ Name Change Specializes in California Legal Name Change for Adults, Children and Families. Name Change Specialist is what we are, and we do it all day for anyone within California’s 58 Counties.