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What is the Name Change Process?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Though most people changing their name do so after they get married, some people also go through the name change process due to a divorce, or because they are tired of having the same name as a celebrity. One of the simplest ways to change the name is by just using the new one consistently, as most states recognize this as legally valid. On the other hand, since some states do not agree that this is a valid way to change a name, it may be necessary to get a court order, which requires filling out a document, providing a reason for the change, and paying a fee. This route is best when it comes to changing the name on a passport, driver's license, or other legal documents since it provides an official record of the name change.

Many states make the name change process simple, allowing residents to avoid the court and acquire a new name just by using it often. The new name should be used consistently, whether among friends or at a job. This route is free, but those who use this name change process cannot typically get a new passport, driver's license, Social Security card, or any type of legal identification with the new name on it. This is because there is no solid evidence of the name change, so government entities cannot be sure which name the new one is replacing. For these reasons, most people do not use this kind of name change process.

The most common way to officially change a name is to go to the county court and file a name change petition. There is usually a filing fee, and in many states, the applicant is required to publish a notice in the newspaper that they have filed the petition. The court usually has a hearing on the matter before the name is changed, after which it should be authorized officially, allowing the applicant to get legal documentation that provides evidence of the change. The next step is to take the documents to the local Social Security office, department of motor vehicles, or any other government entity that provides identification documents that must be changed.

If the name is being changed due to marriage, it is not usually necessary to get a court order, as a certified copy of the marriage certificate is usually enough documentation for the name change process. This can be ordered from the office that issued the original one, usually for a small fee. This should be brought to the Social Security office, department of motor vehicles, and passport agency. Of course, it is helpful to later notify the bank, insurance company, employer, utility companies, and creditors of the name change. It is also usually necessary to register to vote under the new name in order to vote in future elections.

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