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How to Change Your Name

There are a variety of reasons why someone might want to change their name. The most common reason for changing names is marriage or spelling correction. One can also change their name simply because they donít like their name.

Types of Name Change

There are two types of name changes: informal (use) and legal (order of name change). The informal method of changing oneís name is done by simply starting to use the desired name. Under common law, a person is allowed to change their name at will by starting to use a new name. After such a decision has been made and the new name starts to be used, there also needs to happen the updating of any government and legal records to reflect the new name. Of course, there are variations based on the state in which the name change occurs. An order of name change is given by a judge after the person interested in changing their name files the required paperwork with their local government agency and appears before to a judge to request an order of name change. Once the judge give the OK, the person with the new name must then update all legal records (i.e., social security card, driverís license, etc) to reflect the new name.

Legal Requirements for Changing Your Name

Usually the legal requirements for changing a name are relatively simple. At the most basic level, the petitioner must be a resident of the county and state in which he aims to file for a name change.

Name Change Restrictions

Even though one does not need a big reason for changing names, there are specific reasons and rules when it comes to changing a name. You may not change your name:

  • To avoid debts and obligations
  • To defraud another person, company, or organization
  • Capitalize on the name of a famous person
  • To another name which is intentionally confusing
  • To a number or punctuation mark
  • To a racial slur
  • To a name that includes threatening or obscene words, or words that can possibly incite violence

To start your name change process, check with your local court to get started.

How to Change Your Name

Once you have selected an appropriate name, you must then follow the below steps to legally change your name:

  • Find out your county and state requirements for changing names. There are multiple documents which are generally required in order to file the legal paperwork necessary to get the name-change process underway.
  • Make sure you adhere to the rules and requirements of the state in which you are a resident. Each state has specific rules and procedures.
  • Once all the paperwork has been filed with the proper court, you will then need to attend a hearing before a judge. To get to this stage you will need to pay the required fees and file the necessary paperwork in order to get a hearing date.
  • Once the judge has granted a name-change, you will then need to publish a notice of the name change in the newspaper (usually for four to six weeks).
  • You will then need to inform all creditors and account holders of your new name, even if it is a simple spelling change. You will also need to change your name on government documents such as your driverís license, social security card, etc.
  • You should start using your new name immediately and always so that friends, family, coworkers and anyone else you deal with on a regular basis becomes familiar with your new name.

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