The Name Change Petition Process, from California, is the gold standard of Legal Name Change in the United States and throughout the world. 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? When you get a Certified Decree Changing Name, from the California Superior Court system, you get through the process directly. Because it’s a little complicated and very important, you must take all the right steps and in the correct order.
This is a Superior Court, legal process, and results in a Court Order called a Decree Changing Name. The whole process is semi-complicated. Attorneys aren’t required, but it’s not easy or free to do yourself. You can have low-cost professional help from a credentialed Name Change Service. Or, you can do it all yourself by trial and error, if you have the time and the patience to see it through. This will tell you what needs to get done and how to do that.
Here’s what you need to get done:
- File a Petition for Change of Name
- Publish the required Public Notices and Private Notices (for some child name changes only).
- Get your Certified Decree Changing Name, upon approval.
- Fix your ID and/or Official Records!
There are A LOT of different kinds of Legal Name Change Petitions. 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 Petition process. 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 for your kind of name change petition process. 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 Petition Process needs 5 basic Forms.
- CM-010 – Civil Case Cover Sheet
- NC-100 – Petition for Change of Name
- NC-110 – Attachment to Petition for Change of Name
- NC-120 – Order to Show Cause For Change of Name
- NC-130 – Decree Changing Name
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.
Prepare for Your Filing
If your Name Change Petition Process requires Advertising (most 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.
Documents Needed For Approval at Your Hearing
Remember that Your judge will not Grant your Name Change without Proof of Publication, if your kind of name change petition process requires it. If you’re a single parent changing a child’s name, your judge will likely 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. In other words, courts sometimes lose documents and you can save the day if you have a spare copy with you.
A judge can deny your Name Change, 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.(Can your Name Change be Denied?)
Certified Copy(s) – Legal Name Change Proof
You get your Certified Decree Changing Name, upon approval, directly following your Hearing date. In other words, your Hearing date is your Approval date, when the judge signs your Decree. 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.
Ask the judge or courtroom clerk how to get your Certified Copy of the Decree. A Certified Copy is what you need, for every kind of name change petition process, 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 Important – This can Happen
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!
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.