Changing your name in Virginia is relatively uncomplicated, provided the correct procedure is followed. Adults wishing to change their name in Virginia can do so more easily than parents needing to change a child’s name. Whether a name change is needed due to marriage, divorce or other circumstances, the procedure is basically the same.
If a Virginia resident needs to change their name, an application must be made to the county or city Circuit Court where they reside. The application is available online in .pdf format and can be printed and completed at home. Since the application itself needs to be notarized, it should not be signed unless one is in the presence of a Notary Public. A nominal fee may be charged for this service; however, check with the local library to inquire if Notary services are provided for free upon request. If necessary, this application can be notarized at the court house by a Clerk or Deputy Clerk instead.
The next step in changing your name in Virginia would be to file the application with the Circuit Court. This can be done by visiting the Court to file the Application or by mail. Always call the local court to determine procedure as it will vary by jurisdiction. It is usually necessary to provide extra copies to be certified so that service can be effected if necessary. In addition, be sure to include an extra copy that will be returned to you for your records while the matter is pending before the court. Documents submitted without the proper amount in fees risk rejection.
Once the application is filed, the court will then consider the application and determine whether or not to set a hearing on the matter. If the Court sees no reason to deny the name change, an order will be issued to change the name. The Clerk will then transmit appropriate paperwork to Vital Records and Central Criminal Records Exchange after indexing the order under both former and new names. For those re-assuming a maiden name, the Clerk will not need to transmit paperwork on to other agencies. The length of time from filing to review by a judge will vary; however, the clerk at the court house should be able to provide the typical amount of time that it takes to be fully processed.
Changing a child’s name in Virginia is a bit more complicated. If one parent files an application requesting a change of name for the child, the other parent needs to join the application or be served notice of the application so that any objections may be heard at a hearing on the matter. At the hearing, the judge will hear testimony and determine whether a change of name is in the best interest of the child. In situations where a hearing might place the applicant in danger, a judge may waive the requirement to serve notice upon the other parent. Child name changes in Virginia will take longer and are more complex in issues, therefore it may be best to consult an attorney to for advice on how to navigate through the name change process.
Once the name change order is filed, be sure to obtain extra certified copies of the Order, which should only cost a few dollars. Certified copies may be necessary to officially change your name in Virginia as employers and other individuals may need documentation. In addition, a certified copy of the name change order is required to change your name with the Social Security office. Both employer and Social Security should be notified of a change in name so that all earnings are properly reported under the correct name. It is necessary to complete an application for a Social Security card, complete with proof of name change (certified order) and other documents proving identity. These can be mailed to a local Social Security office or the application can be taken in person.
Changing your name in Virginia is easy to do, provided the proper procedures are followed. Though it can be done without an attorney, the process can be confusing particularly in the case of a name change for a minor. For adults, however, the process is fairly straight forward. The key to avoiding future problems is to ensure that all of the proper people, businesses and government agencies are notified of the change in name.