How to Legally Change Your Name

People want to change their names for many reasons. Some of these include marriage, divorce, adoption, image change, and desire (you don’t like your name and want a new one). The laws governing name changes date back to Roman times. Under their law, you could change your name legally whenever you wanted as long as the reason wasn’t fraudulent. That is, that you were not trying to change your name to avoid crimes or bankruptcy. When people fraudulently change their names, it is known as an alias, which is not legal.

You can change your name legally by either common usage-using a new name consistently, or through a formal court process. The latter is the preferred method of changing your name. However, some limitations are involved in the names you can change your name to. For example, you are not allowed to use a trademarked name to gain popularity or financial benefits, such as changing your name to McDonalds and then trying to open a Fast Food Restaurant with the same name. In addition, you cannot use anything profane or any racial slurs in your name.

In regards to numbers and symbols, you are not allowed to use these when changing your name. You can only use letters. The only exception to this is that you can legally use Roman numerals at the end of your name to refer to the number of generations your family has used the same name.

Before starting the process of legally changing your name, you need to research the laws in your state. Most states allow name changes to be done at a local level, but some may require a different court, such as probate. If you have a lawyer, this individual should be able to assist you with the process.

The paperwork, alone, to legally change your name takes time to complete. First, you need to complete a petition to change your name legally. The purpose of this petition is to ensure that you meet the legal requirements to change your name. This must contain a copy of your birth certificate, and your current home address. Most states will allow you to file your papers with a clerk of the court. A judge will review your case, and either approve the new name, or request a court hearing. You will need to go back to court to retrieve the signed petition. An affidavit will be sent to you when your new identity is confirmed; you must return this to the clerk of the court.

The next set of paperwork is necessary to make others aware that your intent is to legally change your name. First, you need an order that grants the name change from the court. A legal back form is also required. If applicable, you also need an affidavit of consent from a parent, husband or wife. If you are an attorney, alien, or ex-convict, you will also have to complete an affidavit of service of notification to authorities. Finally, you need to complete some form of petition to the public, such as an advertisement in your community newspaper. After all of these steps are complete, the court will issue you an Order Granting Change of Name. This is your new identity.


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