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.
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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.
Step 4 – File 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.
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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