Name Change Special Circumstances FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Name Change in Special Circumstances.

Can I Change My Name if I owe money or declare bankruptcy?


Yes. Changing Your Name by Decree means doing it through a Court Order.  To get a Court Order, a judge in your local Court will evaluate your Name Change Petition, taking into account all the factors that you and any other interested party put before him or her.  If your judge believes you are seeking a Name Change to avoid debts or other obligations, or if he/she believes your Name Change is for any other improper purpose, your Petition may be denied.  If these issues are part of your situation, we urge you to seek the advice of a qualified attorney before acting.
On the other hand, most people owe money and many have filed bankruptcy, so those facts aren’t Name Change Special Circumstances at all by themselves. Owing money or even filing bankruptcy aren’t disqualifying conditions for Legal Name Change. If you’re going to seek a Legal Name Change for reasons other than to avoid paying your debts, we’d love to help you!

Can I still Change My Name if I have problems in my past?


Everyone has problems in their past.  To have a judge approve a Name Change Petition, it matters what kind of problems you’ve had.  A judge has the responsibility of helping you Change Your Name, providing doing so won’t cause harm, injury, fraud, deceit, etc., to you, others or to the community.  If you’re trying to escape debts, legal obligations, create confusion, defraud people, pretend to be someone you’re not, denigrate a person or people, etc., or if you’ve had criminal trouble and are trying to escape punishment, parole, supervision, restitution, etc., those may be the kind of Name Change Special Circumstances where you should consult with a qualified attorney before trying to Petition for Name Change.

If your problem was divorce, separation, abandonment, custody, or having changed life directions for any number of reasons, Petitioning for Name Change is suitable for those purposes and done by thousands and thousands of people every day.  If your trouble arises out of a situation where you used a lawyer for help with it before, we encourage you to consult with that lawyer about a Name Change because he/she may have special insight to help with it and, most importantly, there may be special procedures you can take advantage of for Name Change in situations involving, marriage, divorce, probation, juvenile court matters, adoption, criminal law, etc.

Can I go through legal Name Change if I’m getting married or divorced?


Yes, absolutely. If you’re using an attorney, check with him/her about Name Change because there is usually a process included within marriage or divorce, providing good options to the participants.  If available, those avenues are usually faster and can have fewer steps and costs. Even if you’re not using an attorney in marriage or divorce, Name Change to a maiden or family name, is probably available to you at a minimum of cost or fuss.

We can definitely help you if you’d like us to make it easier and faster to get it done right. A Name Change case can be started and finished often faster than a divorce case, if speed is a consideration for you. And, your choices of what your new name will be aren’t limited the way they are in a marriage or divorce.

If your California divorce is final and you have your judgment, we can prepare your Application to Restore Former (Maiden) Name and get you as many Certified Copies of your Maiden Name Court Order as you want after approval by your judge. Click here for more information and, when you’re ready, to actually start getting Your Maiden Name Back right now online.

Before or After Marriage or after divorce, if you want to change your name legally in ways not allowed by the marriage license or divorce rules, you can make changes to your first, middle and/or last name by filing a New Petition for Change of Name in the proper Superior Court where you live now. Click here for detailed information about the process and costs to do that yourself or have us help you all the way through it.

Can I Keep My Name Change Secret?


If your safety is at stake, nearly every state (including California) has procedures available to obtain a Name Change without giving notice to anyone and to keep your Petition under seal (not available for public viewing).  If this applies to you, we urge you to consult with a qualified attorney or to contact your state’s Secretary of State’s office to get their direction to a Safe Program. California’s Secretary of State “Safe at Home” Program information can be reviewed and contacted through this link. If you have this type of Name Change Special Circumstances, your should speak with someone in the Safe at Home program about their procedures and protections.

If you don’t have a reason that your judge will find compelling to keep your Name Change secret, be aware that the Name Change laws and procedures are designed to give notice to any interested parties to let people have a chance to bring your judge valid reasons, if any exist, why he/she should not grant your Petition for Name Change.  Just because someone might have an objection however, doesn’t mean your judge will agree with the objection.  The judge has the obligation to determine if any wrong or harm might be at stake if a Name Change is approved.  The Name Change process is designed to be public, unless there’s a good reason to keep it secret.

Is there a way to modify the Name Change process for special or emergency circumstances?


Almost all Name Change Petitions are of an ordinary sort.  The more you actually have Name Change Special Circumstances or even emergency conditions, the more we would urge you to consult with a qualified attorney to help you with it.  A judge has a lot of latitude to assess individual and/or unique conditions but it’s important that you take care to get adequate preparation of your issues before, if and when you make a presentation of it all to your judge.

What’s the difference between a Parent and a Guardian in this process?


A guardian is usually considered to be a person, other than a biological parent, who is lawfully invested with the power, and charged with the duty, of taking care of the person and managing the property and rights of another person, who, for some peculiarity of status, or defect of age, understanding, or self-control, is considered incapable of administering his(her) own affairs. ~~~Black’s Law Dictionary, Rev 4th ed.

You might be a  “guardian” after a court proceeding where you established a guardianship by court order and were designated to be “guardian”.  You would be a parent after giving birth to or fathering a child with or without court proceedings.

If you are a parent, for purposes of pursuing Legal Name Change for Your Child, you’re considered a “parent”, not a guardian on the Name Change Forms. You probably are a guardian in the English common understandings of the words, but not in the context of this kind of process. We don’t consider the distinctions between parent or guardian to be Name Change Special Circumstances.

Nothing in this quotation, this page or this website should be mistaken for legal advice or legal opinion.

What if I can’t afford to pay any costs or fees?


Every Court has forms and procedures to seek waiver of filing fees.  You will need to fill out those forms and turn them in for decision by the Court. If you provide us the completed waiver form, we can type it up for you to go with your full Petition when you go to file it. If the Court approves your request for waiver of filing fees, NLN’s Legal Document Division can still help you with all your documents, instructions and other helpful information including lowest cost rate information for qualified newspapers in your county.  Neither we nor the Court can waive charges for service by newspaper publication or personal service (if required).  You will need to deal with those entities directly about their charges.

Your financial circumstances may be special, but we don’t consider your finances to be Name Change Special Circumstances for purposes of helping you. We help a lot of people successfully using fee waivers and would be happy to help you too