How to Legally Change Your Name in USA

People sometimes change their first, middle or family names for various reasons. One of the most common reasons for this name change is marriage or divorce.  Everyone has a right to change their name; you can choose a name you like and start using it in social settings and in business contexts. This is considered as a completely legal name change. However, you may face a problem when it comes to government and financial institutes like banks. This is why you have to know how to legally change your name.

Key Areas Covered

1. What Should You know Before Changing Your Name
      – Things to Avoid When Choosing a Name
2. How to Legally Change Your Name in USA
     – Step by Step Process

How to Legally Change Your Name in USA - Inforgrap

What Should You know Before Changing Your Name

If you don’t like the name you were given at birth, you can choose a name you like and legally make it your name. However, there are several things you need to know before changing your name.

  • You can’t change your name to avoid escape debt liability or to hide from criminal liability.
  • You can’t change your name to commit a crime.
  • You can’t choose a name that is a racial slur, incites violence or is just generally offensive
  • You can’t choose a name that is intentionally confusing
  • You can’t choose a name of a popular figure or celebrity (Ex: Selena Gomez, Celine Dion)

How to Legally Change Your Name in USA

Step 1 – Choose an Appropriate Name

The first thing you have to do before you legally change your name is choosing an appropriate name. Please take the above pointers when you are choosing a name.

Step 2 – Prepare the Necessary Documents

Requirements for changing the name may be different in various states. You can visit your local courthouse or search online to find these requirements. If you are searching online try using a search for “name change petition form in [state name].” You can find the list of documents you will need from this search. In general, you need the following documents:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Photo ID
  • Social Security Card
  • A Petition for Change of Name
  • An Order to Show Cause for Change of Name

Step 3 – Fill out the Forms

Petition for Change of Name – This document requests general information such as your name current name, proposed name, and reasons for changing the name.

Order to Show Cause for Change of Name – This document requires general information about the name change. It is then published in a newspaper of your choosing. Many states require this since this allows interested parties an opportunity to object to your name change.

How to Legally Change Your Name in USA

Step 4File the Forms in the Court

Once you have filled the forms correctly, go to the court that handles name changes in your state and submit them.

Step 5 – Pay the Filling Fees

The fee you have to pay will depend on your state. Each state has a different fee, typically ranging from $100-200.

Step 6 – Attend the Court Hearing

In some counties, your case may be heard on the spot, but others may take several months. The judge will review your petition at the court and will decide whether to grant your order to change your name.

How to Legally Change Your Name in USA

The steps given above are a general outline. You may have to go through some additional procedures according to the requirements of your state. For example, in some states, you are required to post your name change in a local newspaper for several weeks, and in some states, your written application has to be notarized before submission.

When the judge grants your name change request, you will be issued a name change decree, which is a court order that approves your name change. You can use this document to change all your legal documents. Also, make sure to inform all necessary parties about your name change.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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