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How to Change Your Name in California

Updated on January 7, 2018

A person born in California who wishes to change his or her name for any reason (including but not limited to change of sex) may file a single petition in superior court for both a change of name and an issuance of a new birth certificate reflecting the change of name and gender. The court is required to follow the normal name change procedure set forth in Code of Civil Procedure § 1275 et seq. in granting the change of name. In cases of sex change, the petition must be accompanied by a physician's affidavit documenting the sex change.

A certified copy of the court's decree changing the name and birth certificate must be filed with both the Secretary of State and the State Registrar within 30 days. The fee payable to the State Registrar is set out in Health & Safety Code § 103725. The State Registrar will furnish a certified copy of the new birth certificate to the registrant without additional cost.

Separate Petitions to Change Name and Issue New Birth Certificate

Alternatively, the applicant may file separate petitions, one under Code Civ. Proc. § 1275 et seq. for a change of name and one under Health & Safety Code §§ 103425, 103430 and 103440, 103445 for a new birth certificate. When the petitions are filed separately, the court order changing the applicant's name should accompany the petition for a new birth certificate, if applicable. In either case, the court must appoint a time for hearing. At the hearing, the court may examine on oath the petitioner or any other person having knowledge of facts relevant to the petitioner or to the petition. As with name changes, objections to a new birth certificate may be filed by any person who can show good reason against the change, and the court must either order a new birth certificate or deny the petition, as the court finds right and proper.

A certified copy of the decree changing the birth certificate must be filed with the State Registrar within 30 days, together with the fee prescribed in Health & Safety Code § 103725. The State Registrar will furnish a certified copy of the new birth certificate to the registrant without additional cost.

Effect of Name Change on Elections and Voting

When a voter, between the time of his or her last registration and the time for closing the registration for any given election in the same county, has lawfully changed his or her surname, he or she may reregister under the new name. The voter must state the previous name under which he or she was registered in that county in the prior registration portion of the affidavit of registration. The additional statement must be made before signing the affidavit and is deemed part of the affidavit. On reregistration, the last previous registration of the voter must be canceled.

If the surname of any person offering to vote has been changed since he or she registered, he or she must sign his or her name both as it was before the change and as it is at the time of voting. The voter must indicate on the roster on the same line, either by brackets or by other means, that the two names identify one person.

If a candidate changes his or her name within one year before any election, the new name may not appear on the ballot unless the change was made by marriage or by decree of a court of competent jurisdiction.

Penal Provisions for Misuse of Name

Any person who falsely personates another, and in such assumed character marries or pretends to marry or to sustain the marriage relation towards another, with or without the connivance of the other, is guilty of a felony.

Any person who falsely personates another in his or her private or official capacity, and in such assumed character does any of the following may be fined up to $10,000 or imprisoned in state prison or county jail for up to one year, or both:

· Becomes bail or surety for any party in any proceeding whatever before any court or officer authorized to take such bail or surety.

· Verifies, publishes, acknowledges, or proves, in another's name, any written instrument with intent that it be recorded, delivered, or used as true.

· Does any other act, whereby, if done by the person falsely personated, he or she might become liable to any suit or prosecution, or to pay money or incur charge, forfeiture, or penalty, or whereby any benefit might accrue to the party personating, or to any other person.

Any person who falsely personates another, in either his or her private or official capacity, and in such assumed character receives any money or property, knowing that it is intended to be delivered to the personated individual, and with intent to convert the money or property to his or her own use, or to another's use, or with the intent to deprive the true owner thereof, is punishable in the same manner and to the same extent as for larceny of the money or property so received.

Any person who signs any letter addressed to a newspaper with the name of a person other than himself or herself, and sends such letter to the newspaper, or causes it to be sent, with the intent to lead the newspaper to believe that it was written by the person whose name is signed, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

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