Sonoma County Name Change – Process & Steps
If you have a residence anywhere in Sonoma County and want to change your name legally, then Sonoma County Name Change is for you. Sonoma County has many name change courts. The name change process can be a little complicated, but the court order you get, on approval, is honored worldwide. And, you can get help to make it almost fun to do.
Legal Name Change in Sonoma County
Getting a legal name change means getting a court order, upon approval. A Certified Copy of your Court Order, properly done, will let you change your California and US ID and Official Records to match. If you legally change your name in Sonoma County, the Decree you get will be honored everywhere in the US and all over the world. Whether you were born in Sonoma County, some other state or in a different country, you get your legal name changed in Sonoma County if you live there now. Legal Name Change is done where you live now, everywhere, regardless of where you were born.
In Sonoma County, the process is a little complex and there are extra forms that must be done correctly. However, the process in Sonoma County is solid. If you do everything correctly, or have someone help you that knows how, you’ll get a Decree Changing Name honored everywhere. And, you’ll get it in a time frame and at a cost that you’re expecting if you’ve done your homework. It’s reliable and a trusted process, and that’s a good thing.
How To Change Your Name in Sonoma County
Changing your name, legally, is both a legal process and then a project to get your ID and Official Records right. You can do all those things in Sonoma County. You just need to know the different parts and what to do first. You can do it all yourself, but be sure to have enough time, money and patience to see it through. Learn the legal process, get your court order, and then start fixing your ID and Records. Each of those parts have a beginning, middle and good ending place if you want it to turn out well.
Sonoma County Name Change Process
Everywhere in California, including in Sonoma County, to get a legal name change you have to complete all the required court forms, file everything in the correct courthouse, and publish in a qualified and cost-effective publication. If everything is done right, and if there are no objections, a Superior Court judge can sign a Decree Changing Name for you, upon approval. A certified copy of that court order is the name change document you need as proof to change ID and Official Records.
Step 1 – Petition For Name Change in Sonoma County
To Petition for Change of Name in Sonoma County, means to fill out and file a collection of court forms. All of those court forms are referred to as a “Petition”, even though 1 of them is actually called a Petition. The others have different names and form numbers. But, you can’t just complete and turn in the one called Petition. You have to have all the required forms and turn them all in at the same time.
There are 5 different forms you must use to file a Petition for Change of Name anywhere in Sonoma County (not counting instruction forms).That might mean as many as 15 documents, or more.
The other 5 used in Sonoma County are also used everywhere else in California too:
- CM-010 (Civil Case Cover Sheet)
- NC-100 (Petition)
- NC-110 (Attachment)
- NC-120 (Order to Show Cause)
- NC-130 (Decree)
Step 2 – Sonoma County Superior Court Name Change Filing
There are different Sonoma County name change Superior Courthouses. They all have the same filing costs and required court forms. But, they all have different ways they want the name change forms prepared, depending on the type of name change you’re doing.
Sonoma County requires all children (under 18) name change petitions to be properly filed in one particular Superior Court in Sonoma. All adult (18+) name change petitions must be filed correctly in another particular Superior Court in Santa Ana.
Sonoma County Superior Courthouses
Every Sonoma County Superior Court charges the same for Name Change filing: $435. The Filing Fee is due and payable in full when you file. If you can’t afford the Filing Fee and still pay for your regular monthly living expenses, you can complete a set of Fee Waiver Request (FW-001) and Order (FW-003) forms. Either the Filing Fee must be paid, or the Completed Fee Waiver Request forms must be filed, at the same time as you file the Petition. If you use a Fee Waiver Request, the court will decide to approve that or not and, if denied, you have to satisfy the court’s payment requirements or they won’t complete your Petition.
You may get a court date (Hearing Date), time and place when you file. Or, the court may provide the Hearing Date within the following 1 to 3 weeks or so. Each Courthouse has their own process, based on staff and judge decisions.
Step 3 – Publish Name Change In Newspaper in Sonoma County
Part of the California Name Change laws specify you must publish certain information to comply with the process. In Sonoma County, there are 10 or more such publications. You need to select one to write into section 3a of the NC-120 Order To Show Cause Form before you file it with the rest of your Petition. A judicial officer has to approve your publication and have the Hearing information written in before your ads can run.
Name Change Publishing costs in Sonoma County run between $90 and $500. Some publishers are more reliable than others. They are all private company newspapers, and are free to charge whatever they decide to charge. The costs for publishing aren’t waivable, even if you have an approved Fee Waiver Request from the Court.
Step 4 – Get Your Sonoma County Court Order, upon Approval
The court usually sets a date for the judge to review your Petition and issue a decision. The court can Grant your Petition or deny it. If the judge grants your Petition, your Decree Changing Name will be signed by the judge and that Order will be filed in that courthouse as permanent proof of your Name Change.
Each of the Sonoma County Courts have their own Hearing procedures and may change them from time to time. You’ve got to know how your court will be completing your Petition or else you may have your case thrown out. Your court may have a Tentative Ruling system, or require ID. You may have to Appear once to get a decision and another time to get your Certified Copy(s), upon approval. Or, you may get all that done at the same time.
Sonoma County judges all receive a Confidential Criminal History Assessment report from the Probation Department in Name Change cases. A judge may deny a Petition based on information in that report, or for any other reason the judge deems valid. Though denials are rare, they’re usually because the judge finds some harm could be done or responsibility might be avoided if the name change was allowed.
Certified Copy Of Name Change Sonoma County
The whole purpose for legally changing a name, is to get a Certified Copy of the Court Order, upon approval. Without the Certified Copy, you’re not going to be able to change ID and Official Records. A Certified Copy of your Decree Changing Name is the magic ticket for changing your name on ID and Official Records.
You can take the Certified Copy you get in Sonoma County Superior Court to a Social Security Office in Sonoma County and get a new card with your New Name – same number. Or, you can take that same Sonoma County created Certified Copy to a Social Security Office in New York and do the same thing. For State Id in California, Real ID for instance, your Certified Copy will allow you to get your driver’s license in your New Legal Name. In New York, or Iowa, Montano or Alabama, the Sonoma County Superior Court Certified Copy will let you get Real ID in those states. You have to meet their other requirements, of course. It really is good everywhere.
Change Your California ID and Official Records
Before you go to get your State ID or Driver’s License in your New Legal Name, make sure your Social Security Account already reflects your New Legal Name. That’s because the DMV is going to check your computer records at SSA before allowing you to get your DMV ID Name Changed. So, do Social Security first if you need to fix your name there. Then get your California ID.
DMV has other requirements you’ll need to meet and you can find them on the DMV website. Make sure you look up and gather all the documents you’ll need to get the California ID you’re after. Real ID has very different requirements than other types. You can waste A LOT of time by bringing in the wrong items, so spend a little time online or on the phone to get a clear list of what you need before going down there. Tip: Get as much done online on their website as possible, before you go to one of the DMV offices near you.
Passport Name Change Sonoma County
There is a Passport Office in Sonoma County, where you can get your Name Change Passport processed very efficiently. The Sonoma County Passport Agency is part of the US Department of State which issues the US Passports. Many other places can process your Passport Application, including private services and many US Post Offices. They will require that you provide a Certified Copy of your Name Change Document (Court Order) along with their Application and the other documentation they require. Their website will also give you options to apply online and by mail.
After the Passport Agent has reviewed your Certified Copy, you will get it back to use again elsewhere or keep in a safe place. They won’t keep your Certified Copy. It’s yours.
Birth Certificate Name Change Sonoma County
The California Department of Health (CDPH) Issues and manages the birth certificates for everyone born in California. The CDPH will issue an Amended or Corrected Birth Certificate if you complete their application forms AND provide them with a Certified Copy of a Decree from any California Superior Court, including any of the ones in Sonoma County. If you were born in another State or Country, check with the government office there to see what’s required if you want to amend or make changes to your birth certificate. They may require other things, but your Sonoma County Superior Court issued Certified Copy of the Decree Changing Name will be honored.
Unlike any other places, the Certified Copy you have to give to the CDPH will be kept by them. So, if you’re going to get an Amended or New Birth Certificate after a legal name change, get one extra copy for them to keep. Most adults never bother with the birth certificate step after name change because your Name Change Court Order IS the birth certificate for your NEW Legal Name. It’s not actually a birth certificate, but operates like one for your name from then on.
Change of Name Application DMV Sonoma County
Making updates to your DMV ID and Official Records is one of the most important things to do after a legal name change is complete. But, if you don’t have your Social Security account information updated properly first, you’re going to waste some time trying to get your DMV documents changed over. You can get some things done online with the DMV before going in. But, to get Name Change completed at DMV, you will need to visit one of their offices.
EZ Name Change Full Service provides customers with top-rated name change services, including a CHECKLIST for how to use your Certified Copy(s) so all your ID will match your NEW Legal Name. Tips include getting Social Security done first and checking the DMV website for starting your Application and gathering the right documentation. The hard part is taking a minute to review what’s required and the order to get things done.
Changing Name Social Security Sonoma County
You’ll need to complete Social Security Form SS-5, and supply a Certified Copy of Your Decree Changing Name, to get your Social Security Card to match your Granted Name Change Court Order. They have other document requirements, so check their website before starting the process with SSA for Name Change.You can go into one of their Sonoma County offices, with or without an appointment, to update your name on your SSA Account. They also allow processing by mail and will let you know how to do that, by phone or on the website.
Social Security is an anchor ID, because it’s used by other government agencies (such as DMV) to check or confirm your identity information. Of all the various places where your ID and Official Records are created and kept, do your best to make sure your Social Security Card has your correct legal name.
Changing Name on Tax Records in Sonoma County
Changing your tax filing ID with the IRS and the State of California isn’t nearly as important as the ID and other Official Records places. Since your withholding and other tax issues are generally tracked by your Social Security Number, the tax agencies will keep your issues straight even if your name is legally changed. Your Social Security number is more likely to remain the same throughout your life than your name, so they rely on your number primarily.
The best and easiest way to let the IRS know that you’ve legally changed your name is to write in your New Legal Name on your next tax filing. You can send them a letter and a regular copy of your Decree Changing Name, either with your next Return Filing or separately. In one or two cycles, they will likely update your name on their records for you. Any Sonoma County tax preparation office, or State/Federal Tax Office will accept your Name Change information and documentation. The tax agencies want you to file on time and pay your taxes. They don’t care quite so much about your name.
Name Change on Title Deeds Sonoma County
You can change your name on Sonoma County property title deeds and records if you want, after legal name change. The same goes for property anywhere in the world. But, it’s not necessary and costs some money. Instead, you can show a Certified Copy of your Decree Changing Name when you refinance or sell if someone asks about the name variation. Every Sonoma County Superior court issued Decree is honored worldwide.
It’s almost always enough to keep a copy of your Name Change Court Order with your Property Deed or other formal title documents, just in case. But, if the property question is significant for you, consider checking with a real estate attorney for a legal opinion.
Marriage & Divorce
Marriage Certificates and Divorce Decrees are 2 types of documents that can be proper name change documents. However, it depends on where they were obtained and the process used to establish the person’s name and identity. Before 9/11, there was a lot more leniency by the government ID offices, allowing Official Records to reflect a change of name due to marital status change from marriage or divorce. Now, they have to be in proper form to work.
To be honored by SSA, DMV and other essential agencies, the marriage certificate or divorce judgment must show the person’s Current Legal Name along with the person’s NEW or Restored Legal Name, signed by a judge or other authorized government official, and must have been subject to a process where the person’s identity was established. The document must also be Certified and show the Seal reflecting the authority of the judge or official signing.
Sonoma County Marriage Name Change
If you specify a New Name on your Sonoma County Application that’s not permitted in the Name Equality Act of 2007, even if the clerk accepts it your New Name may not fly with other government agencies such as Social Security, DMV, etc. You may not change the information on the marriage license after it has been issued by the County Clerk.
Either, or both spouses can legally change names through a Sonoma County name change case before or after a marriage. The court process for Name Change is unlimited for first name, middle name and last name changes. No first name changes are allowed through the Marriage License process, and only certain types of middle or last name changes. If a couple wants to change names in ways not allowed through the marriage license, the court process will work.
How To Change Your Name After Separation Sonoma County
Sometimes a married couple will separate, but not get divorced. If one of them changed their name when they were married, that person may well want to reclaim their maiden name or take a new name altogether.
People retake their prior legal name (usually birth name) all the time after changing names in marriage. It’s quite common now for a woman to take back her maiden name for work or other professional reasons. Since the Name Equality Act of 2007, men do that too sometimes now. In these situations, the couple isn’t separated or divorcing. They just want to make use of the name they were already known by instead of a relatively new name reflecting a marriage.That makes sense in Sonoma County, moneywise, in many situations and many other places too.
How To Change Your Name After Divorce In Sonoma County
In an Sonoma County Superior Court divorce judgment, each party can ask to have a former legal name restored. If that’s done correctly, a Certified Copy of that divorce Order will allow you to change your ID and Official Records to the restored name. You can also do that after the divorce is over, if you didn’t do it before the divorce was final, but it’s a little more complicated later.
After a divorce, though, you’re not limited to just taking back your former legal name. You can use any of the Sonoma County Courts to change your name to any name you want so long as you’re living in Sonoma County when you want to do that name change. That’s also true if your divorce wasn’t in Sonoma County or even if it was from another state. So long as you live in Sonoma County now, you can use the Sonoma County Superior Court to have your name legally changed through a name change case.
Child Name Change Sonoma County
One or both parents can change a child’s legal name anywhere in California, so long as the child lives there now. When changing a child’s name, you’ll want to read up on the requirements (CCP 1276 and CCP 1277 in particular). Expect the courts and judges to be carefully watching out for what’s best for the child and to be sure that all the laws, rules and procedures are applied so interests are protected.
Each Sonoma County Change Court has their own rules for filing and completing a name change case for a child (or children). If you don’t have help doing the documents, expect to spend extra time going back and forth, making corrections and changes before getting it right. It’s not impossible to do, but it’s not simple. If only one parent is petitioning, it can be very complicated. Done right, though, you can get a legal name change for a newborn or a near adult, and for a child of every age in between.
Name and Gender Change Sonoma County
There are two kinds of Legal Name Change Petitions available for transgender and gender identity situations. If you’re transgender, or don’t identify with the gender assigned at birth, you have some options. In 2018, the California Name Change Laws were amended. Some Petitioners and some courts have struggled to process name, and name and gender change petitions completed under the new laws, but we have been working very successfully with every Sonoma County Court on both kinds for many years now. It can be life changing. Learn more here.
The 2018 added Civil Code Section is CCP 1277.5. In that section, and in the judicial council approved court forms that followed, California transgender Petitioners can now choose between a Name Change to Conform to the Petitioner’s Gender Identity (name change only), or a Petition for Change of Name, Recognition of Change of Gender, and Issuance of New Birth Certificate (name and gender change). California also established “nonbinary” as a new official gender designation, in addition to male or female.