Legalese — Name Change

photo courtesy of MorgueFile
photo courtesy of MorgueFile

People change their names for all kinds of reasons.  Marriage and divorce are two of the most popular reasons, but they aren’t the only ones.  Sometimes people wait for some time after they’ve been divorced to change their name.  Some people change their names because they want to start fresh with a new life.  Some people want to take the name of the stepfather or grandparent who raised them.

The law doesn’t much care why, so long as you aren’t doing it for fraudulent purposes.  The law won’t let you change your name to avoid creditors, or to avoid legal consequences for prior actions.  But any legitimate reason is a good one.

The procedure is pretty simple.  You have to file a petition with the court, asking for your name to be changed.  You say what your name is now, and then you say what you want your name to be, and you swear that you aren’t asking for this for any fraudulent purposes.

You then have to publish a notice of name change in the paper.  The notice tells the world at large that you are who you are, and what you want your name to be, and what people should do if they have a problem with it.  Of course, that implies that anyone who might object to your name change might actually see the notice in the ‘legal notices’ section of the paper, but that’s a completely different issue.  Generally there aren’t.  The only times I’ve ever seen people object are when a mother is trying to change the name of her child against the wishes of the other parent.  I’m sure other objections have been filed: I just haven’t seen them.

One the notice in the paper has run, then the publisher of the paper gives you an Affidavit saying that it really was published in the paper for the right number of weeks.  Then you go to Court.  The Court makes sure there are no objectors present, and then makes sure you are who you are, and you want to be known as what you want to be known as, and that you aren’t doing it for nefarious purposes.  Then the Court signs the order and it is done.

Of course, not really.  The Court part of changing your name is really one of the easier parts.  Changing your name on your driver’s license, your passport, your credit cards and bank accounts and retirement accounts and all the myriad of other official type things your name is on is quite a time-consuming chore.

But it can be done, relatively easily.  And then you can go about practicing your new signature.

Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice.  It is being offered for informational purposes only.  No lawyer can advise you about your situation without hearing the particular details of your case.  

About Lori Duff 352 Articles
Lori is the author of the bestselling collection of humor essays, "Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza" currently available exclusively on Amazon. In order to finance her writing habit, she is a practicing lawyer with Jones & Duff, LLC. She is married to Mike Duff, who is a retired DeKalb County Public Safety Officer, and has two amazing children who make cameo embarrassing appearances in her blog posts and who attend Walton County Public Schools. Her legal column, "Legalese", is meant to de-mystify and humanize the Court system. When asked about her writing, Lori says, "Life is too short not to laugh at every available opportunity. My goal is to make myself laugh -- and hopefully you will laugh along with me."

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: