Americans change names for multiple reasons. Whether you want to start a new journey or acquire your partner’s name after marriage, you must make the amendments legal. The US government provides two routes when it comes to this action.
If you’ve been looking into changing your name, we give you insight on what option is suitable and how you should go about this process.
The main reasons that people change names are if they have taken up their partner’s name after marriage or want to drop it after a divorce. However, some individuals must undergo this process for safety, especially under witness protection. Others do it when they want to start a new life elsewhere without attracting unwanted attention.
The USA government allows anyone to change their names. However, there are a few exceptions to this provision. You cannot change names if you want to:
If your intentions for changing the name are anything other than the restrictions above, you can go through the court proceedings to make the new name official.
Parents can also file to change their children’s names if the child is adopted, when parentage judgment includes an order to change the child’s names, or if the parents want to change their children’s names. While children below 12 years have no say in this matter, those exceeding this age limit must state whether they would want the name change or not.
Before filing for a name change, you must obtain particular documents supporting your decision. These include:
Changing a name is easier, thanks to the availability of multiple channels.
You can visit the nearest court near your residence and file a case to change your name in the probate and family court. When you choose this option, you must carry your birth certificate, fill out the necessary forms, and provide a marriage certificate or divorce decree. Once the judge or magistrate ascertains your reasons for the name change are valid, they will issue a name change order.
If you would rather not go through the in-person process, you have an online option to take advantage of. Visit your state’s official website and find the e-filing service details on name changing. Fill out the necessary forms, upload the supporting documents, pay the required fees and submit your request.
Individuals who aren’t too conversant with e-filing can use the mail option. You only have to download the forms, fill them out, attach supporting documents and send your application to the responsible probate and family court.
If you live abroad, you can submit this request to your resident probate and family court online or via mail. However, it would help if you also offered to change your social security card and passport names for a seamless encounter at the ports or border.
After changing your name, you should notify several government bodies to avoid instances of mistaken identity and denied access to vital state services. The necessary bodies to alert regarding the name change include:
You should only send this notification to the departments applicable to your situation.
The cost of changing names depends on the reason, but it varies significantly from one state to the next. Find out from the probate and family court or check online for comprehensive rates for adults and minors.
Once you change your name, it is valid as long as you want it to be. If you’d like to switch to another one, the last name ceases to be valid. The processing takes about 4 – 6 weeks, but this could vary depending on the state.