Name Change California Information and Petition Process

Information and Petition Process

Name Change California is the gold standard of Name Change Court Orders. If you need your ID or Official Records fixed, this is what you need. Real ID?  Passport situation?  Social Security, School, Job, Banking, Professional Licensing?  A Certified Decree Changing Name will get you through the process. The trick is to do everything right.

This is a Superior Court process and results in a Court Order called a Decree Changing Name. The whole process is semi-complicated.  Attorneys aren’t required. You can have low-cost professional help from a credentialed Name Change Service.  Or, you can do it all yourself by trial and error.  We can tell you how to do that.

Here’s what you need to get done:

  1. File a Petition for Change of Name
  2. Publish the required Public Notices and Private Notices (for some child name changes only).
  3. Get your Certified Decree Changing Name, upon approval.
  4. Fix your ID and/or Official Records!

There are A LOT of different kinds of Legal Name Changes. Different kinds have different forms and different processes, but they will all lead you to the Court Order you need IF you do everything correctly.

Important Considerations and Steps to take

If you decide to do all this yourself, we recommend you start by looking up the website of the nearest Superior Court. Find out which Superior Court branch is the correct one for your particular kind of Name Change. Yours might be for an Adult, a Child, or a Family. It can be to restore a Maiden Name or to change Name and Gender. You may need Legal Confidentiality or be a Legal Guardian. Be prepared to spend some time. Getting this part right matters.

Go to the correct and nearest Superior Court. Ask if they can give you an example of everything filled out correctly. Ask if there’s a phone number you can call if you have questions filling it all out. If your kind of Name Change requires Advertising. ask if they can give you a list of all the qualified newspapers that can run that kind of Advertising. Ask how much their Filing Fee is. If you can’t afford the Filing Fee, ask for the Fee Waiver Request and Order Forms. Then go home and fill out all the forms. Complete and file all the forms required to complete your Legal Name Change.


Almost every Name Change needs 5 basic Forms.

NOTE: Many Name Changes require additional Forms or different Forms. Maiden Name  Change after a California divorce requires a different Form and none of the above forms.

If your Name Change requires Advertising (almost all do), you must choose a qualified newspaper to do the Advertising. Write in the name of that Newspaper in Section 3.a. of the NC-120 Order to Show Cause for Change of Name form. Make a copy of all your completed Forms, and 1 extra copy of your NC-120 Form. Go to the correct courthouse and file your documents. Almost all filings will be done at the Civil Unlimited Filing Window.

Give the clerk your full Original Petition and your full copy set. The Clerk will check it for technical correctness and have you make corrections if necessary. You may have to come back more than once with corrections, so have patience and determination to get through this.

When accepted for filing, give the Clerk your Filing Payment or Fee Waiver Request and tell the clerk if there are any dates you cannot attend your Hearing. Get back a Court-Stamped “Conformed” Copy of your Filed Petition with a Conformed extra copy of the NC-120 Order to Show Cause. That document will have your Hearing Assignment on it now. Ask when the Proof of Publication must be filed.

Go PROMPTLY to your chosen Newspaper, if you’re required to Advertise. Give them the extra Conformed Copy of the NC-120 and pay them your agreed upon Advertising fee. Make arrangements with the Newspaper to be sure your Proof of Publication will be filed by the time the court filing Clerk said it must be filed.

Remember that Your judge will not Grant your Name Change without Proof of Publication if required. If you’re a single parent changing a child’s name, your judge will also require Proof of Service or an adequate Declaration.

Bring a copy of the Proof of Publication (and Proof of Service or Declaration, if required) with you to the Hearing, just in case.

Attend Your Hearing and, upon Approval, get your Certified Decree Changing Name. Expect to be nervous when you go, and smiling when you come out. If you are required to attend the Hearing, and if you go, your Name Change can be granted. If something still isn’t right, the judge may ask you to go fix it and come back on another date to complete it.

There are reasons your Name Change may be denied, but almost all are approved. Once your judge approves your Name Change, your Decree will be signed and entered into the Court’s permanent, official records.

Ask the judge or courtroom clerk how to get your Certified Copy of the Decree. A Certified Copy is what you need to get your government ID and Official Records changed. A Clerk of that Court will prepare it, from the Original, and then affix the Clerk’s signature and the Court’s Official Seal to that copy. That’s what makes it a Certified Copy and the only kind of copy accepted by Social Security, DMV, and other governmental and financial agencies.

We recommend you get 2 Certified Copies. 1 to use changing records, and 1 to keep in a safe place with your other most important documents.  You can get more anytime from exactly the same courthouse.

It’s great to have exactly the name you want for every legal purpose.  Getting that Decree is a universally Smiling Experience. You’ll need some determination, time, patience and some money to be successful, but You Can Do This!

At EZ Name Change we can do almost everything for you.  EZ is the only Name Change California Specialist and is Rated exclusively 5-Star with YELP, BBB and Facebook. So, if you prefer to pay a small fee to have it all done correctly for you, check out the Full Service at EZ Name Change.




How does it work?


  1. Prepare your Petition. Fill out 5-9 court forms, depending on your local court rules. Each court is allowed to require additional forms and require they be filled out in their own particular way. Our EZ NAME CHANGE Questionnaire helps you do that, for your name change in your correct court,  in 7-15 minutes online. 
  2. File your Petition in the correct Court and get your hearing date. Some courts will give you a hearing date when you successfully file, others assign the hearing 1-3 weeks after that.  If we do your Petition, we’ll walk you through it all.  If you get Full Service from us, we’ll file and get your hearing assignment for you.
  3. Give Notice: You’ll give notice to the general public by publication of your hearing in a qualified newspaper for your county. (See California Court of Civil Procedure, section 1277a) Name Change Petitions for a child also requires serving a non-consenting parent (if both parents aren’t signing the Petition) with notice of the hearing.  Your judge won’t likely approve your Petition if you haven’t supplied Proof of Publication before your hearing.  If we help you, we’ll get you through all that in the simplest way. With Full Service, we’ll do the advertising for you.
  4. Get the Certified Copy of Your DECREE CHANGING NAME. If everything’s been done correctly and your judge is satisfied that your Name Change won’t cause harm, you can get your Court Order on the day of your hearing.  Within minutes, you can get your Certified Copies of it and start changing your ID.
  5. Get your New Name established. The DECREE CHANGING NAME, signed by your Superior Court judge, makes it official! Use a Certified Copy of it and let others know. Many of our customers get their Social Security, and DMV records changed the very same day as the hearing. School too, if that applies.   Amended Birth Certificates, Passports, banking, jobs, etc., are all quickly changeable with your Certified Copy in hand.  We’ll give you instructions to get the Certified Copy(s) and a handy checklist with contact information for the most important records to get changed.

What are the costs?


  1. Petition: $115.00** is our charge to prepare your filled-out, completed Petition (all you do is sign where marked) for 1 adult or child.  With that, you’ll you get step-by-step instructions, advertising contact and rates information, and a Post-DECREE checklist with contact information. If your Petition is for a family, we charge an extra $10.00 for each additional child or adult.
  2. Court: $435.00 to file in Superior Court (where Name Change California Petitions must be filed). Some courts charge $15.00 more and Courts always can change their own costs. Some courts charge a $30 reporter fee in addition. (see California Name Change Laws CCP 1275-1279.5, 1276)
  3. Newspaper: $30 to $500 (usually $60 to $125) to give public notice, depending on your county and which publication you choose. We’ll provide you with completed paperwork, instructions and a list of publications with rate information to compare costs.Some Petitioners (for a child) will also have to provide legal notice to certain relatives of the child. If one parent doesn’t agree to the Name Change, it may be $35 or more to give legal notice to that parent. We provide all the completed paperwork you need, information, and instructions if you have that situation.
  4. Certified Copy: $25.50 ea. We recommend you get at least 1 Certified Copy of your Decree Changing Name (the Name Change California Court Order) for official records changing purposes. Some courts give 1 or more Certified Copies with the Decree. which costs $25.50. Many people get 2 or more Certified Copies; 1 to keep in a safe place and 1 to use when changing the records.

The Court allows Court Fee Waiver Requests and, if approved by the court, you can eliminate the court filing and Certified Copy costs.  Ask us if you might want to do that.

** To learn more about costs, click here.

How long does it take?


It will take you about 7-15 minutes, or less, to complete our questionnaire.

From filing to hearing, it’s generally about 6-12 weeks to get your Court Order. The big amounts of time are for the Court to schedule a hearing date, perform its due diligence on your application, and for public notice advertising in advance of the hearing. Courts all over the state and all over the country have different rules and scheduling time frames, so you’ll need to find out the answer for your unique circumstances. One court we know of, due to staffing cutbacks at the state level, is scheduling hearings 10 months after filing (as of 2014). If you’re in a big hurry, many courts can schedule as little as 6 weeks for your hearing, depending on their work load at the time of your filing.

Can I get turned down?


Yes. However, almost all Petitions for Change of Name are approved. The main reasons why a Petition might be denied are:

  1. Your paperwork is inaccurate, incomplete, or reveals you to be ineligible
  2. Someone lodges an objection to your Name Change that your judge considers to be meritorious
  3. The judge believes your Name Change would achieve an improper result (i.e., defraud someone, hide from creditors, avoid a duty or obligation, likely to incite violence, trade on the name of a famous person, improperly hide a criminal past, etc.).

See California Name Change Laws (CCP 1275-1279.5)

Why can't I just do this myself


You can! Actually, even if have us help you with Full Service, you are doing this yourself.

There’s nothing we can do for you that you can’t do for yourself if you want to spend the time to learn how and follow it all through. You can collect all the Name Change information, Forms and documentation you need to do this yourself. You can even learn some tips and shortcuts by reading through the many articles and following the links you’ll find all over this website. It will take you about 10-20 hours and cost you about $500 or maybe a lot more, even if you don’t go down the wrong path too many times.

With EZ Full Service, you’ll just give us the information and payments, then go get your Decree Changing Name upon approval. This is all we do everyday. You’ll appreciate having a specialist with extensive experience, license registration and bonding take you though something this personal and important. With our 5-Star YELP, Google+ and BBB reputations, you’ll understand the difference between the stress of figuring it all out and doing it correctly…and the comfort and confidence that comes from paying $190 extra to have it all done properly for you…the first time.

Our Full Service costs $190 more than you’d pay if you did it all yourself. Our Ready-To-File Service is $115 more than if you did everything alone. If you can’t afford that, then you can’t. But if you can afford us…you will feel you got your money’s worth..and then some.

I have other questions.

Check the FAQ page – click here or you can contact us.

Is my Name Change reason good enough?


For Name Change California, Adult, Child or Family, any truthful reason is likely to be an acceptable one. Your judge will decide. But as long as the Name Change doesn’t cause deceit, harm or fraud, your truthful reason should be fine.

To give you some relative perspective:

In 2004, a Missouri man succeeded in changing his name to “They”. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a name change to “1069” could be denied, but that “Ten Sixty-Nine” was acceptable (Application of Dengler, 1979); the North Dakota Supreme Court had denied the same request several years before (Petition of Dengler, 1976).

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 you Change to a Name this is a racial slur or threat.

The court is there to help you document your choice of Legal Names, unless the change would pose some kind of threat or danger to others. BUT….you still will need to all the paperwork and steps correctly:) This can happen!

What if the other parent is out of the picture?


Name Change California allows 1 or both parents to Petition to Change a Child’s Name. If only 1 parent signs the Petition, the non-consenting parent must be served notice of the Name Change Hearing. OR, if that’s not reasonably possible, the Petitioning parent needs to provide a Declaration explaining to the judge why it can’t reasonably be done. Each Name Change judge can Grant the Petition if the judge determines the requirements have been met.

If the non-consenting parent objects to the Name Change, the judge may Grant or Deny the Petition based on all the factors involved. The judge will consider whether a family court judge already decided legal custody or not. The Name Change judge may also consider testimony or other documents related to what’s best for the child.

It’s best if the Petitioning parent can get the agreement of the non-consenting parent. That’s often not possible. MANY single parent’s are successful in Changing their Child’s Name with a non-consenting parent totally out of the picture. You just need to do everything right and be persistent.  This is important.


EZ Name Change does these everyday and will be happy to take you through the process.

I have other questions.

Check the FAQ page – click here or you can contact us.

I have other questions.

Check the FAQ page – click here or you can contact us.

I have other questions.

Check the FAQ page – click here or you can contact us.

I have other questions.

Check the FAQ page – click here or you can contact us.