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The Name Game: A Quick Guide for Legally Changing Your Name

If you married or divorced recently, or find that you just can’t stand being reminded of your given name for one day longer, you can consider legally changing your name. While the requirements can vary depending on your motivation for changing your name, as well as where you live, it is a fairly simple process. Read on for a quick guide to help you successfully and legally change your name:

Do I Need a Court Order?

In the case of a recent marriage or divorce, you won’t need a court order to change your name provided you are taking your husband’s surname or are returning to your maiden name. When you sign your marriage certificate, be sure to sign it as you intend to be known. You’ll need to show your marriage certificate as proper documentation when changing your name, so be sure to have it with you.

A New Social Security Card

Report the change in your name to the Social Security Administration, either in person or by mail. In addition to copies of your marriage license or divorce decree, you will also need to send proof of your identity, such as your current driver’s license or passport and proof of citizenship, such as your birth certificate. If you don’t want to send in these sensitive documents, you can visit your local Social Security office and bring the paperwork and documentation with you.

What Other Paperwork will I Need?

If your legal name change is not related to a marriage or divorce, you need to fill out the proper forms for your state. Many times, these are available at your local courthouse, but check with your state to find out the exact forms you will need. Typically the form includes:

  • your current name
  • desired name
  • identifying information (such as your Social Security number)
  • date and place of birth, birth certificate number
  • the reason for the request

You’ll also need to provide copies of:

  • your original birth certificate
  • photo ID
  • your Social Security card

You must be present at the hearing in order for the judge to consider the request. There will be a court filing fee and you will be responsible for the cost of reissuing your driver’s license, vehicle title and registration and other legal identification documents. Also, be sure to change your name with your financial institutions so you can maintain access to your accounts with your new ID.

Are There Any Restrictions?

Minors must be accompanied by both the parents. Should one parent not be available, documentation must be presented of efforts to locate the parent. The court will want to ensure the name change is not being done to defraud individuals or escape legal obligations, such as the repayment of debts; is not a racial slur, fighting words or intentionally confusing, though some states allow spelling out numbers; and that it does not infringe on the rights of another person, such as changing your name to that of a famous celebrity.

As you can see, this is a serious and sometimes complicated process, but it will be relatively painless if you have all of the correct documentation prior to starting. Regulations differ slightly from state to state, so check on the websites of your local Social Security office, local DMV, and other administrative offices to obtain the proper paperwork, and see what kind of documentation you will need to bring with you. The information for this article was provided by the professionals at Registrations Are Us, who offer license renewal in Spruce Grove for those who need a new license after changing their name.

This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, women’s interests, and technology. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.

Photo credit:

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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