Name Change California Information and Petition Process

Name Change Process California - ExplainedInformation and Petition Process

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:

  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 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.

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.

 

 

COMMON QUESTIONS - SHORT ANSWERS

How does it work?

ANSWER

Prepare your Petition

Fill out 5-15 court forms, depending on your local court rules and type of Petition. Each court is allowed to require additional forms and require they be filled out in their own particular way. Or, use the EZ NAME CHANGE Questionnaire, with Full Service , which takes 7-10 minutes online. 

File and Schedule a Hearing

File your Petition in the correct Superior Court, pass technical specifications assessed by a Filing Clerk, and get your hearing date assignment. Each judge, and each county may have their own particular requirements besides what California requires. For instance, some courts will give you a hearing date when you successfully file, others assign the hearing 1-3 weeks after that.  With EZ Full Service, we take care of all that.

Give Notice

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 or filing a declaration if that’s not reasonably possible to do.  After that, your judge reviews those documents prior to Granting or Denying your Petition before your hearing.

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.

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?

ANSWER

Petition

If you do everything yourself, there’s no charge for getting the Forms and filling them all out. It not easy to be sure you have all the correct forms and it’s complicated to fill them out correctly and take the other steps required to be successful filing it all. Therefore, make sure you have a lot of time and patience before attempting it.  You will be asked to pay $115.00, initially, if you want us to help you with Full Service.  And, you’ll need 7-10 minutes to provide information. Then, EZ Name Change can prepare your Petition completely and correctly (all you do is sign where marked) for 1 adult or child.  

Court

$435.00-$480 to file in Superior Court (where all Name Change Petitions in California must be filed). That’s because all the courts charge at least $435 and some courts charge $15.00 more. In addition, some courts charge a $30 reporter fee in addition. There is a Court Fee Waiver option if you can’t afford your monthly living expenses and pay the court filing fee. Ask us about the Fee Waiver, if that may apply to you, and we can provide more information

Notices

Almost every Petition to change names for an adult or child requires publishing notice in a newspaper, by law (see CCP 1277(a)(2) and (3). $60 to $500 (usually $90 to $125) to give public notice, depending on your county and which publication you choose.

In addition, for a child’s name change by only 1 parent, you’ll have to serve the non-consenting parent or provide a declaration if that’s not reasonably possible to do (see CCP 1277(a)(4))

Certified Copy(s)

$40.50 ea. We recommend you get 2 because you’ll need 1 to change ID and Official Records and the other is to keep in a safe place with your other important papers. You get these from the court, upon the court’s approval. You can get as many as you want, but above all, plan on getting at lease 1. If you plan to get an amended birth certificate, get an extra Certified Copy because those people will keep the one you must send them with your Application. If you have an approved Fee Waiver Request, your Certified Copy charges can be waived too.

TOTALS

To do everything yourself, plan on costs of $525 or more. With EZ Full Service, add $190. ** Cost to Change Names in California

How long does it take?

ANSWER

It will take you about 7-10 minutes, or 20, to complete our questionnaire. When you do that, and submit our Name Change questionnaire online, you have started the process.

From filing to hearing, it’s generally about 6-12 weeks to get your Court Order. That’s because the Court has to schedule a hearing date, perform its due diligence on your application, and allow 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. Courts don’t expedite, or have a “short line” for an extra fee. Professional services may be able to expedite the time it takes to prepare your documents and file them correctly for you. Even so, 6-8 weeks would be extremely fast for this and 10 weeks is generally a realistic average of how long it takes to get your Court Order. (How Long To Change a Name in California)

Why can't I just do this myself

ANSWER

You can do this yourself! Check out How to Legally Change Your Name in California, for a do-it-yourself guide. It’s complicated, and technical, but doable if you want to save a bit of money and have the time.

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.  If you can’t afford that, remember … we can help with a Fee Waiver Request for Court Costs. If you can afford us…you will feel you got your money’s worth..and then some.

Is my Name Change reason good enough?

ANSWER

Answer truthfully, and your 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. (Top 5 Reasons)

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.

In other words, 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?

ANSWER

The Name Change Petition process in California allows 1 or both parents to Petition for a Child’s Name Change. 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. In other words, your judge must follow the law and can Grant the Petition if the judge determines the requirements have been met as to the non-consenting parent..

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. (Name Change Process and Costs)

Can I get turned down?

ANSWER

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.).
  4. You fail to do ALL the steps required

In other words, doing everything right matters a lot.

See California Name Change Laws (CCP 1275-1279.5); Can My Name Change be Denied?

I have other questions.

ANSWER
Check the FAQ page – Frequently Asked Questions or you can contact us.