The Law Dictionary

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How To Legally Change Your Middle Name

When you are born, your parents name you. After you reach the age of adulthood, you have the consciousness to determine if your middle name truly suits you. Here is how to legally change your middle name.

“Right to Change Your Name”

Most states or counties will have a form specifically for name changes. Visit your government website and ask for a Name Change Form or Name Change Petition. Some states may require you to file several documents, for example an Attachment, Civil Case Cover Sheet or Decree Form. Make two copies of each of the required forms by downloading them from the government website or acquiring a physical paper copy from the courthouse itself. If your local government does not have an official form, you can make your own form.

Make sure you have your birth certificate, credit report, driver’s license, state identification card, housing lease, utility bills, state tax returns and other documents showing your place of residence ready. Most states require you to live in a place for a certain amount of time to qualify for residency.

Think about why you want to change your name. This might be due to a change in family, religious or career status. Many famous actors change their names to create more memorable brands. There may be a question concerning why you want to change your name.

Submit the Name Change Form along with any accompanying documents to your state or county clerk. Expect to pay a filing fee. The court will schedule a hearing for any people who want to challenge your name change.

“Judge Must Authorize”

Once your hearing date is set, publish your intention to change your name and the hearing date in your local newspaper. This advertisement must run each week for several weeks to allow for public comment. The court might run a criminal background check on you.

Bring all of your documents to the hearing, some character witnesses might help. During your hearing the judge will ask if anyone wants to challenge your name change. He may ask you why you want to change your name. Some of the forms you might need to sign in the presence of the judge, so make sure you check ahead-of-time. If the petition is accepted, the judge will issue a name change order to certify your new middle name.

Name Changes After Marriage

In the United States, more than 80 percent of married women choose to take the last name of their husband. Though most do so as soon after the wedding as they reasonably can, there are many who wait months or even years to make this decision. Regardless of the timing, in most states, women simply need to present a copy of their birth certificate, marriage license, and a picture I.D. to their local Social Security Administration office along with a completed application for a new Social Security card.

Name Changes Due to Divorce

A name change after a divorce is often even less complicated. The judge finalizing the divorce can include language on the divorce decree that restores the female’s name. She will then use that decree to obtain a new Social Security card and identification in her previous name.

Other Reasons for a Name Change

Both men and women may wish to change their names for a host of reasons. Sometimes they want to appear more professional or wish to distance themselves from difficult pasts. They may simply dislike their birth name or wish to legally change the spelling. No matter what the purpose for the name change may be, the path to legally change the name is generally the same. Laws differ from state to state, but most people who wish to change their names must start with filing a petition for change of name. This can be found through the state court. After the paperwork is completed, it is a good idea to have an attorney look over the paperwork to make sure it is filled out properly. Individuals should then make copies of their paperwork before submitting to the court clerk. A small fee is usually assessed at this time, which varies depending on location. Some areas will then require that the individual publicize their name change request in a local newspaper before a court hearing is scheduled. The judge will then decide if the name change is granted.



This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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