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Name Change Information – Frequently Asked Name Change Questions

Name Change Information isn’t always easy to come by. Court’s handle so many kinds of cases and don’t have customer service. Almost every private service or lawyer mainly handles divorces, wills, or other legal processes. The name change information you’re looking for is also here. Look through the Frequently Asked Name Change Questions. If you don’t see your topic, or want more details, feel free to Contact Us.

The process for legally changing your name involves filing a petition with the court in your county, publishing notice of your proposed name change and/or taking other steps required by that court, getting a review and approval from a judge, and receiving a court order that formally authenticates your name the way you want. Your appearance may or may not be required. Once you have a certified copy of the court order, you can begin updating your identity documents, like your driver’s license, passport, and social security card, as well as accounts like bank, licenses, insurance, and anywhere else your name will need to be changed. Requirements vary somewhat by state.
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To legally change your last name, you will need to file a name change document. One, universally honored name change document, a court order, you can get by filing a petition with your local county court. You complete the petition, pay any required filing fees, satisfy public notice requirements, attend a court hearing if required, to confirm that you want to change your last name, and receive a certified, signed court order approving the change. Once you have the name change court order, you can begin changing your last name on government-issued IDs, accounts, records, and essentially anywhere that currently has your former last name listed.
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The total cost to legally change your name if you do it yourself depends on factors like state filing fees, which range from $25 to $465, plus public notice publication costs, if required, which can be $50 to $300 in most cases. Costs for certified copies of the court order are between $2 and $50 each. You may also need to pay various fees to obtain replacement copies of identity documents unless you update your records at renewal. Hiring a licensed assistant or lawyer is an additional cost if you choose to enlist professional help, which can range from $190 to $2500+. Overall, expect to spend $500 to $1000 dollars.You should be able to get an exact estimate, by contacting a reputable source for your type of name change, in your area. Our FULL SERVICE fee to all the paperwork and filings for you is $190 in addition to the filing fees, notification costs, and court order certified copies costs.
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It typically takes around 1-3 months to complete the court petition process. After receiving a court order approving your name change, you’ll need additional time to update your records and IDs, which could involve agencies like the Social Security Administration, Real ID, Passport, financial institutions, etc. Plan for the entire name change process to take 6 months for both court approval and identity document updates.
If you have a marriage license that is also a name change document (not all are), get a certified copy of your marriage certificate. If you don’t have that, then, file a name change petition with the correct county court where you live now, and get a certified court order affirming the legal name you want to use after marriage. With the court order in hand, you can legally begin using your new last name and update driver’s licenses, social security records, passports, financial accounts and credit cards, insurance policies, titles, leases, and anywhere else your name needs to be changed.
No. There is generally no strict legal deadline for changing your name after marriage. While many update their last name immediately after marriage, you can technically take as much time as needed. Many people don’t decide they want to change their name after marriage for a long time, sometimes many years. As a practical matter, it’s best to get your name change document (whether marriage, divorce, or court order) and update your ID and official records as soon as you’re sure you want to do that. But you can go through the name change court process months or even years later if desired.
Yes and No. It is possible to change your first, middle, or last name at the same time as when you get married. BUT for a first name change, that cannot be done by your marriage license and certificate. For a first name change, you need to go through a separate name change petition process in the correct court where you live now. Upon approval, you can get a certified copy of that court order as legal proof of your first name change. This involves extra paperwork and costs beyond just adopting your spouse’s last name. However, you can also change your middle and last names, along with your first name change, in that same court process and for no extra money, if you want.
For a minor child, either or both parents, or legal guardians can file a name change petition on the child’s behalf with the proper court, pay required fees, publish or serve required notice, attend a hearing (if required), and receive a certified, signed court order legally changing the child’s name. The child’s birth certificate and other ID and records like social security, medical forms, passport and school registration then can be updated.
You can legally change your middle name by filing a formal name change petition with your local county court, and publishing any required notice of the requested change. You may have to appear at a court hearing to confirm the requested name change and, upon approval, get your signed court order. When you have a certified copy of that court order, you can begin updating your identity documents like driver’s license, passport, social security card, and anywhere else your middle name is used. You can also amend your birth certificate with the certified court order, though that’s usually not required once you have a certified copy of the court order.
While the name change process can be complicated and involves many steps, it is generally considered manageable for most people. By thoroughly completing all paperwork, following correct procedures, publishing required public notice, appearing at a court hearing (if required), you can successfully navigate the name change process with persistence and attention to detail. And, you can usually find a cost-effective, licensed professional to assist you, or even a lawyer, if you want help. Like us!
Each state and each county have their own document requirements. Sometimes, only court forms are needed to complete a legal name change. Other times, you may need a photo ID, proof of residency, or other documents specified by your court. Eventually, to update your ID and official records, you’ll need all of those documents, together with the certified copy of the name change court order you get, on approval, at the end of the name change petition court process. Typical documents you might need to update for your last name change include current government-issued ID like Real ID or a regular driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, bank account records, and professional licensing.
To update your ID and official records, you’ll need a name change document, such as a name change court order from a correct court. To get that kind of court order, you file a name change petition and go through that court process, following each step until the end when you get the court order, upon approval. The correct court is usually the Superior, or other high court, nearest you in your county. You’ll need to complete some court forms, file your name change petition and pay the court filing fees. You may need to publish notice of the proposed name change and appear at a hearing. Upon approval, you can go to any government, financial or other office, such as social security, passport, driver’s license or state ID, etc., where you want your name corrected as it shows on your court order.
Some of the most common reasons people change their names include marriage or divorce, to simplify or authenticate a name already in use, and for professional or career reasons. But there are an almost unlimited number of legitimate other reasons, including wanting a fresh start, transgender identity affirmation, honoring a family relation or other special person, shedding a bad or even abusive family name association, choosing one’s own unique name to match your life path, transgender identity affirmation, numerology or genealogy research, religious or spiritual reasons, and simply personal preference.
People usually think about it for a while before deciding to commit to a legal name change. Name change is always very important and deeply personal. So, when considering whether to legally change your name, think about stepping into that name as a big part of your identity, to yourself and everyone else. Weigh factors like your relationships, workplace and social engagements. Consider your motivations, your own sense of self-identity, opportunities and obligations, and convenience factors. Of course consider the costs involved and tasks you’ll have to do when updating ID and records. The costs and hassle of updating records will be relatively small and over before you think, but your new legal name will be an important part of who you are for a very long time.
A court order authorizing your name change for every legal purpose, is the final step of a name change petition process. To get that, you must file all the correct and completed name change petition forms with your local county court. You will need to pay fees, may need to satisfy public notice requirements by publishing in a local newspaper and attend a court hearing to confirm that you want to change your name. A judge will review your background, confidentially, and if everything’s in order and done right, you will receive, upon approval, a signed court order granting the change you requested.
A full service name change specialist, like EZ Name Change, can help you complete your legal name change court process online, depending on where you live. Without a full service name change assistant, you will have to go to court between 1-3 times to complete the process. Even with a licensed name change specialist, some county rules require 1 personal appearance from you, usually to prove that you are who you say you are and that you still want the court to approve the name the way you stated on the Petition. You can find many services, or even court self-help websites that will provide some or all of the documents, and some may help you fill them out online. However, you’ll need a full service specialist to complete everything, or even most everything, online.
After receiving your official name change document, you should promptly update your name on all your identity documents, like your driver’s license, passport, Social Security card, as well as accounts like bank, credit cards, insurance, investment, licenses, titles, lease or mortgage, and anywhere else your name appears. There isn’t an actual deadline for updating your new legal name, after getting a name change document such as a court order name change, marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption or naturalization. However, in time, you may lose your name change document. Documentation may change and not be recognized at some agencies years later. And clerks may reject a name change document if it’s too old out of concern that it may no longer reflect your current legal name. You can update years after you get your name change document, it’s still valid. But too much time can come with complications. So, as a practical matter, it’s best to update to your new legal name, once you have your legal name change, sooner rather than later.
To change the name on your passport after a legal name change, submit Form DS-5504 along with your current passport, new passport photo, official documents like a certified court order or marriage certificate, and the required fees. You must apply in person at an authorized passport agency or center, with an appointment sometimes required. Routine processing takes approximately 4-6 weeks, or can be expedited for faster service in special circumstances requiring imminent travel.
To legally change your name with the Social Security Administration, first obtain a certified court order or marriage certificate documenting your name change. Then complete Form SS-5 providing personal details and submit it along with the court order or marriage certificate, your current Social Security card, and valid ID in-person at your local SSA office. If approved, you will be issued a new social security card reflecting your new legal name by mail within 1-2 weeks.
To change your name on your driver’s license, go to your local DMV office and complete a name change application form. You will need to submit the application along with a certified court order or marriage certificate proving the legal name change, your current license, new license photos, and applicable fees. If approved, your new license bearing your updated legal name will arrive in the mail within 1-3 weeks.
To change the name on your car registration and license plates after a legal name change, bring documents like your name change court order, new driver’s license, and current registration to the DMV. You will need to complete required state forms and pay applicable fees. Upon approval, the DMV will issue new registration docs and plates bearing your new legal name.
The process for amending a birth certificate to reflect a new legal name varies by state. Typically you must submit completed state forms, copies of original birth certificate, certified court order or marriage certificate, and valid ID to the proper designated state vital records office. Processing times range from weeks to months. Upon approval, an updated birth certificate showing the new name will be issued.
To change a baby’s last name on their birth certificate, complete required state amendment forms and submit them along with the original birth certificate, parents’ marriage certificate or name change court order, and fees to the proper office. Approval can take weeks or months. Once processed, the state will mail an updated birth certificate reflecting the baby’s new last name.
There is no federal limit on legal name changes, but substantial restrictions may exist at the state level, and courts scrutinize frequent petitions without sufficient reasoning. While exhausting, multiple approvals are possible over time given unique circumstances, properly spaced petitions, and sincere documented motivations for each change.
You can change your last name without getting married by petitioning the court for approval and receiving a judge’s official order. Compelling reasons like aligning names with children, professional identity, or personal preference may eventually earn approval. But the non-marriage process often faces more extensive scrutiny compared to name changes resulting from marriage.
While you can petition the court for any name, likelihood of approval depends on state laws and the judge’s discretion. Outlandish, overtly offensive, or frivolous name choices tend to either be prohibited outright by statute or denied during the hearing process. Choosing a reasonable name aligned to your identity and background will improve chances.
Name change petitions and court orders become part of public record, so you can request copies from your county courthouse. Alternatively, commercial personal record services provide online databases that may include digital copies of legal name change documents for a fee after performing a detailed search.