How to Change Your Name Legally
So many people ask whether they can be able to change their names to the ones they desire or not. The answer is yes. You can legally change your name to the one you like except when:
- You want to change your name in order to escape debt responsibility or hide from being answerable to a criminal offense.
- You want to commit an offense or crime
- You have an intention to mislead people. This normally involves getting the name of a popular individual. Courts prohibit this unless you have a reason that is convincing and which has a relation to that popular individual or the use of his/her name.
- You want to intimidate people or in order to be considered immoral, indecent or offensive.
- You want to insult other people on the basis of their race, nationality or ethnicity
- You want to confuse people. This means that you cannot choose a name that has punctuations or numerals. However, a number of courts allow the use of the words instead of the numeral e.g. five instead of 5.
Common Reasons Why People Change their Names
The most common reasons people change their names are marriage and divorce. When spouses have their marriage certificate at hand, many of them go to change their name in a government office. If the marriage ends in divorce, the divorce decree is another common route that people use to change to their former names.
In order to change a name after getting married, you are required to provide the marriage license as a proof to your name change. If you are divorced and want to be using your former name, only mere usage is required. To be sure, confirm with your local court.
Do you need to file your name change in a court?
This is important though it is not mandatory in many states. Most countries allow a person to change their name simply through usage. Anyone can choose a number and start using it in their business or social settings. This name change is completely legal. Problems show up when it comes to financial agencies or the government.
In recent times when identity theft, frauds of credit card and fear of terrorist spies are many, most government and financial agencies will demand legal court documents to prove who you are. In addition, identification forms such as passport, birth certificate card and social security cards require legal documents that show you have changed your name.
Ensure you check with your local court assistant on the requirements of your state because states differ on their rules for name change.
The Process of Changing Your Name Legally
Beginning to use your new name is the most important legal thing you can do. When you are filling forms, make sure you use the new name. Use your new name to introduce yourself to friends and even family members.
As we have seen, some places like government agencies will need a legal document of your name change. Majority of states have a name changing process that is very simple while most national government websites allow you to fill an online form which you can print and use. The questions you are required to answer in the form are straight forward and include your social security number, old name, new name, why you want to change your name and a promise that your name change is not an intention to escape criminal or debt liability.
The form that is most required includes legal change of name petition, an order that shows cause of your legal name change and a change of name legal decree. After you have filled these forms, take them to a court assistant for filing along with a fee for filing that is required in your state. A magistrate will review the forms and grant change of name in most cases.
Although most states will only require usage for a name change as we have seen, having a document from court that permits you to change your name legally will be of importance to you when dealing with companies and institutions that are not honoring your name change.
Who You Should Notify of Your New Name
Ensure you change your name in all personal documents that you have such as accounts, wills, deeds, trusts etc. In addition to notifying your family and family of your new name, entities which include schools, employers, creditors and debtors, passport offices etc. also need to be aware of you name change.
Finally in order to ensure you do everything according to the laws of your state, it would be important to have a family law attorney who is experienced to walk you through the whole process. He/she will help you fill a petition for your legal name change with the proper government entity and will make sure you do the right thing as per the law.