Name Change Information – Frequently Asked Name Change Questions
For Adult 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 you live. Some Courts treat Name Change Petition cases as a Probate case. 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 Name Change at your Hearing. You get your Certified Copy(s) right after you get your signed Decree in the same courthouse. For more details about how to do a name change in California, click here.
Social Security, DMV, Passports and other government and financial entities want you to show them a Certified Copy of your Court Order (actually called a Decree Changing Name) when you ask them to Change Your Name and give you new documents with Your New Legal Name.
It will take you 5-10 minutes to complete our Questionnaire.
EZ Name Change takes 1 business day to review your information, confirm it with you by email, and properly prepare a completed Petition, customized to Your Court’s local requirements and your particular Name Change.
The Court Process in California takes about 2 1/2 months, upon approval., from the day you start until the day you have your Court Order in hand. It can be as soon as 6 weeks, and as much as 12 weeks or more, based on court conditions.
Your Hearing Process can be delayed if your paperwork is incomplete, inaccurate or your background raises questions that aren’t resolved before the Hearing date. Some courts are backed up due to budget cuts and crowded case loads, but the 2-3 month time frame is realistic.
Updating your ID and Official Records with your Court Order will take between 1 or 2 days and 2 months, depending on how many core ID and Records you need to update and how much you stay with it.
Adult Name Change costs vary depending on where you live now, which newspaper you choose and how many Certified Copies you get. It’s about $715 (typical for many counties) if we help you with EZ Full Service. If you do everything yourself, you can save our $190 Full Service charge.
Court filing fees are the biggest part of those costs ($435-$465, depending on the county where you live now). Court Costs can be waived if you qualify because of low income (ask us about court fee waiver forms if you think you may qualify).
We charge $190 for EZ Full Service: we prepare all the Petition documents correctly; we do the court filing for you; we arrange the correct advertising and get proof of publication to your judge; we make your appointment for Approval/Hearing.
Required Advertising usually costs between $90 and $125, but can be as little as $45 or as much as $540. The prices are charged by private newspapers. Be careful if the price is too small because it may not be reliable. EZ Full Service will use the most cost-effective available in the County.
All California Name Change Courts allow Adult Name Change Fee Waiver Requests. These Requests are for you if you can’t afford to pay the court fees and also be able to pay your regular monthly household living expenses. The court makes that decision, if you submit all the right Fee Waiver Court forms along with a properly completed set of Name Change Petition forms. You can’t get a Fee Waiver Decision first, then file your Petition if your Fee Waiver is Approved.
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 Adult Name Change, any truthful reason that doesn’t cause deceit, harm or fraud is likely to be an acceptable one. Click on this link to see the Top 5 Reasons to Change Your Name.
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).
Courts 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.
There are two different kinds of Petitions that seek to change a person’s name to conform to Gender Identity: Name Change, and Name and Gender Change.
Each one has a different set of Forms and results.
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 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)). Processing these cases isn’t always going smoothly yet. We have had to help many of our Gender Identity Petition customers turn around improperly processed Petitions of this type.
Petition for Change of Name and Gender
This type of Adult Name Change Petition is for people choosing to change their name and gender marker. All the same laws apply to this type of Petition as apply to all other types, except these Petitions are exempt from the automatic Hearing Appearance and Advertising is not required (see CCP 1277.5). All the correct forms must still be completely completed and submitted to the correct court. And, the same background check and criminal history assessment will still be done confidentially by the court before a decision is made.
In California, since 2018, you can choose either a Petition for Change of Name (to conform to your Gender Identity), OR you can file a Petition for Change of Name, Recognition of Change of Gender, and Issuance of New Birth Certificate. Medical Documentation, which was required for this type of Petition prior to 2018, is no longer required in California. Additionally, California established “nonbinary” as an official Gender Marker (“X”) in 2018, so Petitioners can choose to Change Gender to Nonbinary for legal recognition of that.
EZ Name Change provides Full Service, with or without Fee Waiver Requests, for all Transgender California Residents.
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, but don’t go.
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, use all the right forms and the correct court, and is you 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 Yours…to make your Name Change a reality!
If you want a new ID or Official Records updated to get your name right, 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 see if they will. If they tell you to get a court order, then you need a “Legal Name Change”. At the end of the court order process, you’ll get a Decree Changing Name, upon approval. A Certified Copy of your Decree is a Name Change Document honored everywhere, including for Real ID, Passports and Professional Licenses.
Even if you want just one letter changed, or even if you just want your first name changed around with your middle name…those are all Legal Name Changes. When you Petition for a 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.
A Court Order, or Decree Changing Name (which is a type of court order), All the primary government agencies will issue you a 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 legally changed his name to Gerald Ford as an adult. President Gerald Ford was born as Leslie Lynch King Jr, grew up as Gerald Ford, and then legally changed his name to Gerald Ford before he entered politics. The rest is history.
With Full Service, your legal name change will take about 3 months and about $715 (more in some counties). Court Order Name Change fixes the problem. Legally and permanently.
Can I take my Maiden Name back if I’m still married?
Yes. Many women and some men want to retake their Maiden Name without divorce. People commonly Restore a Maiden Name for Professional Purposes. If your spouse has died, you may want your birth name back. You may prefer the independence of having your own (not a shared) last name. There are many good reasons for taking your maiden name back. Divorce IS NOT a requirement to retake a Maiden, or any other formerly held legal name.
A Petition for Change of Name will accomplish your desired Maiden Name Change, upon approval by a judge, and without a divorce. You don’t need spousal approval in California. Just correctly prepare your Petition, process it properly, comply with the California Name Change laws and you should be fine.
After divorce, are Name Change costs and time frames the same as any other Name Change?
If your divorce was done in California Superior Court, and it’s final, then you can retake your Maiden Name with a new Order from your divorce court. That process is shorter and costs less than the regular Name Change Petition process requires. Check out this additional information to get yours Started, or for more specific information about Maiden Name Change After Divorce
After I get married, can I Change My Name if I change my mind about my Married Name?
Yes! You may have taken your spouse’s last name and now want your maiden last name back. Or, you may have kept your maiden name and now want to take your spouse’s last name or a combination of your name. Those situations happen all the time and can be fixed exactly the way you want through the Name Change Court Order Process. Bottom line….you can absolutely Change Your Name After Marriage, legally, to exactly the one you want it to be, regardless of the choice you made at the time you filled out the marriage license.
This is a common problem. Getting a Name Change Document is the solution.
Unfortunately it can cause delays, aggravation, and other trouble in different financial, travel, security, employment and other situations. Fortunately, Legal Name Change can clear all that 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 on everything. A Decree Changing Name is an official Name Change Document.
It should be your goal to have one single Legal Name. You can have pet names, nicknames, stage names, or any sort of informal names you want. But, in the 21st Century, you should choose one name you want officially. Then, get a Court Order and change over your ID and other Official Records. That’s the way to minimize any potential for disruption or delay, due to your Name, as you go about your life. Some Official Records don’t need to be changed, such as Citizenship Certificates or Birth Certificates, Diplomas, etc. Those things can remain in your “old or former” name without confusion. But your Social Security, Driver’s License, Passport, Main Bank and Professional Licensing should all be in your one, legal name.
Take your Certified Decree Decree Changing Name, and go change all your important records. Take it promptly 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. It won’t be long until that name is properly reflected on your bills, tax filings, memberships, credit cards, and so on. That’s when your name will make everyone frown less and smile more.
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.