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Change Your Name = Clean Slate?

Updated on November 8, 2009

If you are attempting to avoid legal action of any kind or to defraud any person, you will not be permitted to legally change your name.

As is typically the case when discussing laws, the statutes regarding name changes vary with the state in which you reside. However, some regulations are uniform.

  • Typically, for an order of name change to be granted, the court must find sufficient reasons for the change and find it consistent with the public interest.
  • Any reasonable objections made to the court may influence the court's findings as to whether the change of name is proper and not detrimental to the interests of any other person.
  • A person is not allowed to change his/her name in order to avoid judgments or legal actions or to avoid debts and obligations.
  • A person can not change their name to defraud any person.
  • You must file a petition with the proper court and pay the required fees (at the time of filing). The petition will contain the name you wish to adopt and typically the reason you wish to change it.
  • Most states require the petitioner to place advertisements in the local newspapers at his/her expense and provide proof the notice was published.

Below are some of the states with different procedures and/or information:

Alabama - You must be 19 or older to be considered and adult.

Alaska - If a name change is granted, your birth certificate may be amended (and it will carry the notation “amended”). This requires you complete the forms provided by the Department of Vital Statistics.

Arizona - Arizona statutes do not provide for the issuance of a new certificate of birth nor the amendment of the original certificate of birth following a court ordered name change based solely on the name change statute.

Arkansas - Even if a name change is approved, records of persons under the jurisdiction and supervision of the Department of Correction will continue to reflect the name as recorded by the various circuit courts.

Delaware - Individuals subject to the supervision of the Department of Correction shall be prohibited from adopting any names other than their legal names or otherwise effecting name changes. However, if the person's request is motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, the court may grant the change.

Florida - A FBI fingerprint card must be attached for each individual applying for a name change.

Illinois - Your Petition must also be verified by the affidavit of some credible person.

Iowa - The verified petition must be accompanied by a certified copy of the birth certificate. If one is not available, this should be noted in the Petition and a substitute form of identification provided such as Immigration and Naturalization papers.

Louisiana - If you were born in Louisiana, you can have your original birth record altered to reflect the name change. The state registrar of vital records must be provided with a certified copy of the name change judgment.

Maine - To protect the person's safety, the judge may limit the notice required if the person shows by a preponderance of the evidence that he/she is a victim of abuse and is currently in reasonable fear of his/her safety. The judge may seal the records of the name change in this instance.

Minnesota - If the court determines that the name change for an individual is made in connection with his/her participation in a witness and victim protection program, the court shall order that the court records of the name change sealed.

Missouri - Petitions must include details regarding any judgment for money which has not been satisfied or any pending matters and, if so, the style of the case wherein the judgment was entered and the court in which the judgment was entered.

New York - The Petitioner must also attach to the petition either a birth certificate or a certified transcript or a certificate of the commissioner or local board of health that none is available.

North Carolina - The process for obtaining a name change begins with the posting of a Petition for Name Change at the door of the Superior Court in the jurisdiction in which you reside. The Petition is posted, generally on a bulletin used for that purpose near the main entrance to the courthouse, for 10 days in order to give the public notice by publication of the requested name change. Afterwards, the Petition is filed with the Clerk of the Court.

The Petition must be accompanied by two (2) affidavits of good character made by two (2) citizens of the county in which the you reside.

The Petition also inquires as to whether or not your name has ever before been changed by law, and, if so, why.

After the Petition is posted and filed, if the clerk thinks that good and sufficient reason exists for the change of name, it's his/her duty to issue an order changing your name.

Pennsylvania - The Court forwards all Petitions and a completed fingerprint card for each to the Pennsylvania State Police for processing regarding any possible criminal record. With 60 days the State Police will respond to the Court with any relevant information concerning the Petitioner.

Vermont - The process for obtaining a name change begins with the filing of the Petition in the Probate Court in which you reside. You must attach a copy of your birth certificate and, if married, a copy of your marriage license.

The register of probate with whom the change of name is filed and recorded then send the certificates and a certified copy of the Order of Name Change to the supervisor of vital records registration. The supervisor of vital records registration then forwards the Order to the town clerk in the town where the person was born within the state, or where the original certificate is filed, with instructions to amend the original certificate and all copies. The amended certificates will be marked "Court Amended.”

West Virginia - Statutes may prevent some with a criminal record from obtaining a name change.

IMPORTANT NOTES & DISCLOSURES: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law applicable to an action for change of name. Although all applicable forms are available for purchase online, you may need an attorney to complete this process. My Research was conducted primarily- but not solely at US Legal Forms, however, I have NO AFFILIATION with this site as of the date I wrote this.






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