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How and Why to Change Your Legal Name

Updated on August 20, 2014

You Want Me To Call You What?

My name is gia combs-ramirez. Legally my name is Virginia Combs and as a kid and in the community where I grew up (where I still live) I was and am called Ginger. People change their names for many reasons from getting rid of a difficult pronunciation, to change in marital status, to reflecting a new sense of themselves, and to becoming famous or infamous. Here I want to explore how and why you might change your name, as well as how to tell your friends you've changed your name. Although many people change their names, it is often hard to get family and friends to accept the new name.

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At the Very Beginning of Your Life - When should a child be named?

The name game all starts at birth...or does it? My father ended up with Baby Boy Combs on his birth certificate because obviously his parents hadn't come up with a name in the hospital. He didn't discover this till he enrolled in the Navy and had to produce his birth certificate. Oops! Some cultures don't name their children for a whole year because of the high rate of infant mortality. Some people wait a month or so.

When should a baby get that first name?

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Good Names For Your Baby - How do you choose it?

My parents chose names based on ancestry.

We chose names for our kids based on their bicultural heritage...what names could be said in Spanish or English with equal ease?

My advise is to think about the child and a name that resonates well with her or him (place one hand on your belly and say a name out loud. If it doesn't match it will not feel good).

On the other hand, Google thinks most teenagers will trash their own name on the internet with all the postings of their indiscretions. So maybe you need to pick out a name that is good for 20 years with the "real" name for when your kids turn 21!

10,000 Names for Your Baby
10,000 Names for Your Baby

Bigger and better than ever, this comprehensive reference provides all the information parents need to choose the best name for their baby. Packed with thousands of new choices and the latest findings on how our names can affect our personal and professional lives, this book makes finding the perfect name easier than ever.


Reasons for Picking A Name - Ancestors, fads, or something else?

Why did you get your name?

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I sometimes think I was born to live up to my name. I'd either have been a nun or this. Madonna

The Top Five Reasons People Change Their Names

First, last or both for changing names

1. Change your last name because of marriage.

2. Change your last name because of divorce.

3. Change your first and last names to sound less ethnic or cultural.

4. Change your first name because it no longer reflects who you are.

5. Change your name because as a movie star or public figure you need something catchy.

Newest! Change your name because of being infamous or associated with someone infamous. Google CEO Eric Schmidt says this will be a growing trend for teenagers who want to get away from indiscretions posted on the internet.

How to Legally Change Your Name - It's tiresome

It took me about 5 years after I got married the first time to get everything changed to my husband's last name. Then we got divorced. When I remarried I didn't change my legal name again. Now I have my legal name and my dba name or professional name. My biggest challenge is trying to remember which name I gave people for registering for something!

If I got to do it all again, I'd never have changed my name legally after the first marriage.

Numerology of Names

You Are Your First Name
You Are Your First Name

The Numerology Name Dictionary by America’s Foremost Numerologist Ellin Dodge. Wondering what your career strengths are? Confused by your boss? Is "John" really your soul mate? Nervous about impressing your future mother-in-law? Well, throw away those self-help books, skip your therapist appointment, and let your fingers do the walking through YOU ARE YOUR FIRST NAME for all the answers and more! Taught in the ancient mystery schools, the first letter of any name, the vowels, and the consonants all have meaning unveiling secrets and providing you with great insight about yourself, your friends, lover, boss and everyone else in your life! With YOU ARE YOUR FIRST NAME, all the answers you've ever wanted are pages away.


Any child can tell you that the purpose of a middle name is to tell when he's really in trouble.

My name may have buoyancy enough to float upon the sea of time. Keats

Did You Change Your First Name - Or Know Someone Who Did?

How did you handle it?

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gia mounting up
gia mounting up

So You Took The Big Leap and Changed Your Name, What Now?

Or someone you know changed their name, what do you do?

It's okay socially to change your last name because of marriage or even divorce. But there's kind of a taboo about changing your first name. How do you handle telling your friends and family? You may find plenty of resistance to changing a name because they associate your name with a feeling of love (or whatever view they have of you). And then there's just the basic memory aspect of it. For some reason people get embarrassed if they forget someone's new name and call them by their old name. At my age, I'm just happy if I remember any name, so I certainly don't fault any one else's memory!

In my own life I stayed "Ginger" for a long time with friends and family. With my clients I was "gia." And never the two shall meet! My friends who know me in the energy healing/intuitive world readily switched to gia. But others didn't and I was fine with that. But then one day...two years ago, I joined Facebook and my two worlds came together as one. I immediately confused old friends who always knew me as Ginger. Sometimes family don't know how to introduce me (do I introduce you the old way or the new way?)

My personal feeling is, if you knew me as Ginger...keep calling me that! And if you know me as gia...please call me that! And if you're introducing me and you're not sure...just introduce me as your sister, daughter, friend and I'll supply the name.

But other people are adamant that their new names are recognized and acknowledged by family and friends. If you've changed your name, send an email to friends and family. For businesses send a formal letter.

If you are on the other side of the equation and someone you know has changed their first name and they haven't officially told you anything...just ask what their preference is!

Here's a good tip for committing the new name to memory. Picture the person in front of you. Connect to the heart feeling you have for that person. With your nondominant hand lightly tap your thumb on each finger tip while repeating the new name over and over. Give it 20-30 seconds if you are feeling resistant to it. Voila! Committed to memory.

Name-Calling - The Ugly Side of Others Picking a Name for You

When some one else picks your name and adds meanness to can affect you forever.

Easing the Teasing : Helping Your Child Cope with Name-Calling, Ridicule, and Verbal Bullying
Easing the Teasing : Helping Your Child Cope with Name-Calling, Ridicule, and Verbal Bullying

Traditionally, teasing was viewed as a rite of passage, something to ignore until (you hope) it just went away on its own. But teasing can have damaging and lasting effects on your child, including low self-esteem, chronic stress, anxiety, dislike of school, or even aggressive behavior. Children need concrete ways to cope with teasers and the emotional turmoil teasing can cause. In Easing the Teasing, Judy Freedman draws from seventeen years of experience as a social worker in a suburban Chicago school system. Her groundbreaking program successfully teaches children and parents how to effectively deal with teasing and develop life-long coping skills.


Got a story about a name or a nickname?

Drop me a message - You Can Call Me Ener-g or gia or hey you!

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    • CrazyHomemaker profile image


      5 years ago

      Cool lens. I thought of it a few times, if ever I should want to change. I have a whole list of names that I like. No time soon, though.

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 

      6 years ago

      Great lens and a great lens you have i love my name and i wouldn't change it for the world. But am so glad i have the know how if i do. Great job!!

    • Shades-of-truth profile image

      Emily Tack 

      7 years ago from USA

      Because I like my privacy, I am going to comment "oddly". Loved the Lens, and I have just about had it, with changing my name. Forgive the dashes, but I'd like to stay somewhat anonymous, online. My legal name is E----y K-----n O----a G----r M---------a S------n S------n T--k. Now, if I could just change that to something simple, like Holly Hock, or Prim Rose, or Dandy Lion, or even Spring Brook. Oh, no! I have a "handle", just like you! P.S. Your poor dad!

    • JeremiahStanghini profile image


      7 years ago

      I almost changed my name when I got married... Took one of my middle names and made it my last name. :-)

      With Love and Gratitude,


    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 

      7 years ago

      I can see why you would change your name because of a profession you were entering. I keep smiling at your story of having the name "Ginger". Every time my daughter meets someone with the name of Jake or Salley she immediately tells them that she has a cat by that name.

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 

      7 years ago

      gia ... interesting. I actually like your name. Interesting discussion about the name change.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I can certainly see how changing your name could have either a positive or negative effect on one's life. Very nicely done!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have not changed my first name to something new, but I do go by several variations of my name, which in full is Elizabeth.

      Liz - friends who knew me from high school and my brothers

      Lizzie - 2 people in the world get to call me this :-)

      Elizabeth - when I made a major move (physical and spiritual) in my life I went back to Elizabeth. Most people now call me this.

      Eliza - the name I go by in my blogging life and as an intuitive counselor. It embraces my spiritual persona.

      Okay, in high school, I also went by Statler (as in Statler & Waldorf from the Muppet Show) but that's a whole other story *grin*

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      7 years ago

      Wonderful topic ~ My birth certificate doesn't say "Bambi" but it is the only name I've ever been called ~ my biological father named me, but he & my Mom split up right after I was born ~ since my Mom never liked the name he gave me, I've always been Bambi & never even realized it wasn't legal until I got my driver's license at 16. ~ Blessed >*

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      7 years ago from UK

      It's a pity we don't get a chance later in life to officially change our childhood name to one that better suits the people we are. Thanks for sharing this interesting story!

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 

      7 years ago

      Cool story - I love how you chose your new name!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Cool lens, after all what's in a name?

    • juliannegentile profile image

      Julianne Gentile 

      7 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio, US

      I hope you had a merry Christmas!

    • giacombs-ramirez profile imageAUTHOR

      gia combs-ramirez 

      7 years ago from Montana

      @SusannaDuffy: ha ha...thanks for noticing! Now what am I going to do with all my gingerbread cookie dough sitting in the fridge???

    • giacombs-ramirez profile imageAUTHOR

      gia combs-ramirez 

      7 years ago from Montana

      @Sylvestermouse: I can relate to childhood nicknames that stick. I have cousins who still call me zinzer because they insist that's how I used to say my name as a kid.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      A happy lens and fun to read. Yes, we learn something every day, I won't make the mistake of capitalising your name again

    • Addy Bell profile image

      Addy Bell 

      7 years ago

      I also wanted to say -- great lens on an unusual topic!

    • Addy Bell profile image

      Addy Bell 

      7 years ago

      A friend of mine changed her name legally, but that was years after she had chosen a different first name. We were in college, and most of us were Pagans, and that's a community that's cool with using different names. By the time she made the legal change almost nobody she knew used her old name anymore.

      As for me, I *love* my name -- first, middle, and last -- and would only consider changing my last name in the event that I had kids, and my husband and I chose a new last name for our family.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      7 years ago from United States

      Gia, what an interesting story! I have one of those names that everyone seems to want to change for me. Cynthia seems so easy to me, but for some reason, in elementary school my teachers started calling me Cindy (which I don't especially like) Unfortunately that stuck all through school and I wouldn't correct my teachers, so the kids called me Cindy too. It has taken me decades to convince people that my name is not Cindy. To add to the whole name mess, one of my brothers likes to call me Sin (his spelling) Definitely not my favorite. Names do matter to us as individuals. I really like Gia!!! It sets you apart from anyone else and is not only beautiful, but uncommon which I really like. Seriously, when you go through life being one of 5 that answers when the name Cindy is called, you appreciate originality! LOL

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens, really fascinating! I nearly got my first name and my middle name the other way around, but am glad my mum chose the way she did because I much prefer my first name to my middle one!

    • giacombs-ramirez profile imageAUTHOR

      gia combs-ramirez 

      7 years ago from Montana

      @awakeningwellness: Ha ha...I know that problem!

    • awakeningwellness profile image


      7 years ago

      I changed to my middle name in high school but as it turned out I was the one who had trouble remembering it! :)

    • giacombs-ramirez profile imageAUTHOR

      gia combs-ramirez 

      7 years ago from Montana

      @BuckHawkcenter: Well, we could start calling you Hawk which is kind of cool!

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image


      7 years ago

      Since I have been known on the Internet as BuckHawk, I've actually had people refer to me as Buck. Which isn't so bad, except that my alcoholic uncle was nicknamed Buck. Not a great association. But, you made a great addition to Jenga tower!

    • giacombs-ramirez profile imageAUTHOR

      gia combs-ramirez 

      7 years ago from Montana

      @evelynsaenz1: I know perfectly well how to say your last name. Is it Basque by origin?

    • giacombs-ramirez profile imageAUTHOR

      gia combs-ramirez 

      7 years ago from Montana

      @ChemKnitsBlog2: Good luck with all of that (changing the name AND the reason for changing the name)

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      7 years ago from Royalton

      In second grade I changed my name to my middle name. It never stuck though. I looked forward to changing my last name when I got married so that everyone would know how to pronounce it but then I married someone with a last name even harder to pronounce.

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile image


      7 years ago

      What a thought provoking lens! I have read about some kids in the last few years who have changed their names to domain names, and there was speculation that kids would start branding themselves or changing their names for advertising purposes.

      Thank you for sharing your story with us! I will be changing my last name in about 6 months, so you provided some helpful resources in addition to the personal insight.

    • sheriangell profile image


      7 years ago

      Only legally changed my last name by marriage, my first name?.....there's several versions of that. The one that was put on my birth certificate, the one my parents decided to call me and the one I go by now. Great idea for a lens.

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 

      7 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      Loved reading your story. Me? Only by marriage

    • giacombs-ramirez profile imageAUTHOR

      gia combs-ramirez 

      7 years ago from Montana

      @MargoPArrowsmith: The joys of being an get to pick your own names!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      7 years ago

      Well, when I was 5 my mother changed her name to mine which meant that all her friends used my horrible middle name to call me.


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