The majority of legal name changes come from marriages or divorces. If that is the case, it is nearly an automatic change because the courts realize that it stems from the marriage license or divorce decree. People who desire the name change for other various reasons must petition a court, and the court decides whether to grant it.
What additional reasons would someone want to change his or her name? Perhaps for naturalization purposes. Maybe their name is a strange one or one that has produced ridicule for them throughout their lives, and they want to be rid of that name. Perhaps they have been the object of identity theft and don’t want to take a chance that it could be a continuing problem. Another reason could be to avoid a stalker and “disappear” with a new name to a different address and not have one’s place of employment available. Or it could be for a variety of personal reasons other than the ones above.
Florida Statute 68.07 lays out the requirements for obtaining a legal name change in that state beginning with the Petition for Change of Name, form 12.982(a), which can be obtained (often in a complete Forms Kit) at any state circuit court or through the website for the state. The four page petition form includes many questions which must be disclosed such as name, address, place and date of birth, names of parents, all addresses since date of birth, marital status, spouse and children’s names and addresses, any criminal arrests or convictions, past bankruptcies, whether you have had any money judgments entered against you, whether your civil rights were ever suspended, any businesses you own and what your position is in that business, any name changes or aliases in the past, etc.
You must have the form notarized (be sure not to sign it until you are in front of the Notary Public) and must affirm that your change of name is not for any legal purpose nor to avoid creditors or evade law enforcement nor to violate somebody else’s privacy, patents, trademarks, or property rights.
You then file this petition and any other necessary papers in the circuit court of the county where you legally reside and where you are a bona fide resident, at which time law enforcement will take a set of your fingerprints. There is also a filing fee. There will be a hearing before a circuit court judge, who will sign a Final Judgment if the change is granted. The clerk will notify the state’s Office of Vital Statistics of the Department of Health and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will also be informed so that you will be able to obtain ID under the new name.
Once one has gotten the legal name change, he or she is obligated to inform many agencies. Those include the Social Security Agency (so that you can get a new card), Passport Agency, Internal Revenue Service, bank or banks, employer, insurance providers, and various profession and personal affiliations.