Changing Your Last Name in California

Changing your last name in California starts by filing a name change petition in the Superior Court where you live. It ends with a Court Order in your hands. A Decree Changing Name (Court Order) is what all government agencies, schools, financial institutions and private organizations want to see before they will agree to change your ID and other important records.

How to Legally Change Your Last Name in California

Changing your last name in California is more common than changing other parts of your whole name. That’s because marriage and divorce have traditionally affected people’s last names only. And, because of the marriage and divorce connections to last name changes, there are additional ways to legally change your last name. However, filing a name change case in civil court is available for all types of last name changes in California.

Men or women can now also retake a former last name or birth name within a California divorce case. Likewise, one or both spouses can change their last name on the marriage license by writing in a new married name on the marriage license before it’s turned in by the official. There are limitations for the changes you can get this way.

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Last Name Change Process in California

The following process for changing your last name in California is standard. Each state, and each county within each state, has its own rules for last name change, but they will all have most, or all of these basic characteristics.

Steps to Changing Your Last Name in California

1. Prepare and file a petition to change your last name
2. Give notice in a local newspaper
3. Get your Court Order, Upon Approval
4. Change your last name on California IDs and Official Records

Step 1 – Petition For Last Name Change California

First, you must fill out and file in the correct court, all the required last name change petition forms. In addition to the standardized California Judicial Council forms, certain California Counties have additional forms they require. The standardized forms, depending on your particular last name change situation, are:

CM-010 Civil Case Cover Sheet
NC-100 Petition for Change of Name
NC-110 Name and Information About the Person Whose Name is to be Changed
NC-120 Order to Show Cause
NC-121 Proof of Service of Order to Show Cause [Used in some Child Name Changes only]
NC-130 Decree Changing Name
FW-001 Request To Waive Court Fees [USED when you can’t afford to pay for court fees ONLY]
FW-003 Order on Court Fee Waiver [USED when you can’t afford to pay for court fees ONLY]

You also need one extra required form, for checking on criminal history, in 9 counties. Still other counties have additional forms to fill out for self-representation or consent. Some Counties also make you File a Civil Cover Sheet Addendum. The courts all change their Forms from time to time. You have to use the most current ones.

Next, file the Petition in the County Superior Court. (see California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 1276) Each court charges a filing fee. You can File a Fee Waiver Request if you can’t afford the Court Fees. The Court will assign a case number to your Petition and give you a Hearing date. You’ll go to court on the Hearing date and get your Court Order, upon approval. The hearing dates are usually 6-12 weeks or longer away, depending on how crowded the court’s schedule is.

Step 2 – Give Last Name Change Notice in California

You must advertise the particulars of your last name change hearing (see California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 1277a). You can choose a qualified newspaper and pay them for the required ad. The ads run once a week for 4 consecutive weeks. Your judge will want to see that Proof of Publication before approving your Petition.

If you’re a parent Petitioning for your Child without the consent of the other parent, you may also have to serve legal notice of the Hearing on the non-consenting parent. Any adult (not the Filing parent) can do the serving as can Private Process Servers, U.S. Mail, or a Sheriff’s deputy. The particular rules that apply to you are found in the California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 1277 (a).

EZ Name Change Customers get the benefit of our list of the qualified newspapers in your county with rates and contact information. When we do the Filing and Advertising, you get the most cost-effective, qualified newspaper.

Step 3 – Get the Certified Copy of Your Court Order

Your judge will decide whether to sign your last name change decree or not. Almost all Petitions we prepare are Granted. If approved, you will receive a Certified Copy. With your Certified Decree of the last name change, you can begin changing your important ID and records that same day. You get the Certified Copies in the very same courthouse.

Step 4 – Change the Last Name on Your ID and Records

A Certified Copy of your Decree will let you get all your records changed. Social Security, DMV, Schools, Banks, Passports, Birth Certificates all honor that particular document. Many people change Social Security, Driver’s License and Bank or School the same day you get it. All US government agencies, State and Federal, and countries throughout the world, honor that document.

EZ Name Change Customers each receive a Post-Decree Checklist with contact information and hints for quick and successful records changing once you have your last name change Certified Decree.

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