How To Legally Change Your Middle Name

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

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.

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