Name Change Guide

					This is a guide that explains the procedure for a person to legally changing his or her
name. This guide explains whether a lawyer is needed, how to find a reputable law firm,
eligibility, filing fees and deadlines, advantages and disadvantages of a name change,
and steps to changing a name after a divorce. This document should be used by
individuals who want to learn more information about how to legally change their name.
Table of Contents
How to use this guide: .................................................................................................................... 3
Do I need a lawyer for file for a name change? .............................................................................. 3
How do I find a reputable law firm? ............................................................................................... 3
General Frequently Asked Questions ............................................................................................. 4
Eligibility .......................................................................................................................................... 9
Filing Fees & Deadlines ................................................................................................................... 9
Steps to Changing your Name after a Divorce:............................................................................... 9
Special Notice for Convicted Felons ............................................................................................. 11
Advantages vs. Disadvantages of a Name Change ....................................................................... 11
Rules and Regulations in the United States regarding filing for a name change ......................... 11




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                                       How to use this guide:

People file for a name change for many reasons, often at the end of a divorce. Name changes are
fairly common, and easy to accomplish. Changing your name is a legal act that is recognized in
practically all legal systems to allow a person to adopt a name other than a name given at birth,
marriage or adoption. The procedures that govern this process are dependent on which
jurisdiction you live in. This guide is intended to guide the user through a name change filing,
and answer many of the frequently asked questions that might arise. This guide is for
informational purposes only, and should be considered as a replacement for legal advice.



                      Do I need a lawyer for file for a name change?

No, you do not need a lawyer to actually file the name change paperwork. Questions could arise,
however, that could require the advice of a lawyer. Should you have any questions it is always
best to consult a lawyer.



                             How do I find a reputable law firm?

If you have decided to retain a lawyer, you will want to find a firm and lawyer with plenty of
experience and a great track record. Make sure that you find a lawyer that specializes in divorce.
The legal field is vast, and a lawyer needs to be specialized in a particular field. Some lawyers
may take any type of case just to keep the money coming in, but they are not necessarily well
versed in one particular subject.


Check your phone book, the internet, your local bar association or word of mouth to get the
names of a few good lawyers. Most will meet for you the first time for free. Use this time to
interview them. What is their experience, how much do they charge, and what can you expect to
get out of your divorce by hiring them?




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                             General Frequently Asked Questions

I took my husband’s name when we were married, now we are divorced and I want to
change my name. How do I go about doing this?


The easiest way to change your name after a divorce is the take care of the paperwork before the
divorce is final. In most states you can ask the Judge to make an order changing your name back
to your maiden name. If the divorce has already been finalized, check to see if you can file
additional paperwork that can accomplish your name change after the fact.




Regardless of the divorce filing, if you have paperwork that proves what your original name is,
you can resume using your former name without much trouble. Be sure that you change your
name on all your important documents (wills, trusts, driver’s license, and passport).


After my divorce is final, can I change the name of my children?


This will ultimately be up to the court whether you can change your child’s name. Traditionally
courts leaned towards the child keeping the name of their father. This is no longer the case. The
court will decide if it is in the child’s best interest. They will look at what role the father plays in
their lives, the strength of the child’s relationship with the mother, and whether the child will be
part of a new family in case one of the parents will re-marry. Be mindful that a name change
only serves to change the name itself; it does not change any of the rights and responsibilities of
either parent with regard to the child.


After divorce, does my name change automatically to what it was prior to marriage?


No. In order to accomplish a name change connected with a divorce the Judge must make a
formal order restoring your original name.




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Do I have to change my name after a divorce?


You are under no obligation to change your name after divorce. Many people prefer to change
their name however, to feel a sense of a fresh start, or restoring their original identity.


How do I make sure I can change my name after divorce?


You will need to request that the judge makes a formal order restoring your former name. You
can also use this order as legal proof when you need to change forms.


What if the decree does NOT have an order that restores my name?


You can still modify your divorce decree after the fact by getting a name change order. Call the
court clerk and request a modification.


What do I need to do to change my name?


In some states, the “usage method” is acceptable to change your name. Although it is permissible
under federal law to allow this, it is not followed in all the states. Otherwise, if there is not an
order in your divorce decree, you will need to modify it and obtain a name change order and
have it signed by a judge.


You will need to file name change forms with the DMV, the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S.
Passport Office, Social Security and the IRS. You should also notify all of your creditors.


Are there any restrictions on my name change?


Most people after divorce will change their name back to their name before marriage. If
however, you decide to change your name to something other than your prior name, bear in mind
there are a few restrictions on what name you choose:




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        a) Your new name cannot interfere with the rights of others. An example of this would
            be taking the name of a famous person, for instance.


        b) Your new name cannot be intentionally confusing.


        c) You cannot choose a name that is a racial slur.


        d) You cannot choose a name with fraudulent intent.


How will I know when I have gotten my name back?


Once you have notified all the agencies listed above, your name change for the most part, is
complete. Once you receive your new documents with your new name, the process is complete.


After my divorce is finalized, can I change my children’s last name to my maiden name?


Yes, your children’s name can be changed to your maiden name. Court used to rule that the
father had the right to have his children keep their last name. This has changed in recent years
however. Now the children’s names can be changed if the court finds that it is the best interests
of the child.


What should I do if I have a hard time getting my new name accepted?


If you changed your name without a court order, you may run into difficulty getting your new
name accepted. Be sure you have proper documentation that shows your old name and your new
name. If you are having an unusual amount of difficulties, be prepared to present the state law
that allows you to change your name. If the change continues to present a problem, you can get
a court order from a judge.




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Do I have to go to court to change my name after marriage or divorce?


If you are changing to your spouse’s name at the beginning of a marriage, or returning to your
old name because of divorce, just using the name should be sufficient. You will still need to
provide some type of proof for the name change at times, however, like a marriage or divorce
decree. If the name will be completely new to you, you will need to obtain a court order.


How do I implement my name change?


You can change your name by simply using it, as described above, or by court order. Either way
you will need to notify the appropriate businesses and agencies of your name change. All
entities that you do business with should be notified, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles,
the U.S. Post Office, the U.S. Patent Office, banks and creditors.


Can I change my name if my marriage is common law?


Most states allow a person to simply start using their new name, which is referred to changing
your name by “usage”.          However most governmental agencies will require name change
documentation, such as a court order.


Can I take my husband’s name three years after our wedding?


If you didn’t change your name when you were first married, you will need to use the court
process to change it.


Can my husband’s ex and I share the same last name without problems?


There should be no problem with two people sharing the same name. Many people share the
same name without consequence.             The only potential problem would be if the “ex” held
themselves out to be still married to your spouse.




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After a change my name, will others be able to find out my old name?


It would be very difficult for others to find out if you have change your name, provided you have
changed all of your important documentation (driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, etc.).


Does a name change mean I have to update my living trust?


Yes, if you have not changed your name on the trust, it will be difficult for people to identify you
as the same person who created the trust. This could cause needless delay and confusion should
a situation arise with your trust.




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                                                Eligibility

While anyone can change their name, it cannot be changed for fraudulent purposes, and the name
can’t be offensive.



                                      Filing Fees & Deadlines

There is a filing fee in most all jurisdictions for a name change. The amount varies greatly
between jurisdictions, but is usually between $200.-$400.


There are no real deadlines associated with a name change after a divorce, other than you make
your request known prior to your final dissolution of marriage. If it is included in your final
divorce decree, it will be free at this point, and cost money if you do it later. If you do decide to
do it later you will need to submit the appropriate paperwork to the court for a modification of
your final order, which can be done at any time after your divorce is final.



                      Steps to Changing your Name after a Divorce:

        a) The easiest and quickest way to change your name after a divorce it to include your
            request as part of your final divorce decree. This will avoid filing fees and extra
            paperwork later. Check with your lawyer if you have one, and make your request
            known. If you include it with your divorce decree it will be somewhat automatic.


        b) If this is not done immediately during the course of your divorce, contact your court
            clerk after the final decree and ask her for a modification of your final decree.
            Depending on your state, you will need an “Ex-Parte Application for Restoration to
            Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order.” She will provide you with paper
            work that will need to be completed, and signed by the judge. In some jurisdictions
            this may include your appearing at a court date.




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        b) In some states it may be necessary to record your Order. Check with your local
            Recorder’s Office to determine if this is necessary. If it is deemed appropriate, there
            will be a small filing fee involved.


        c) Change your name on your diver’s license. Depending on what state you live in, you
            may need to bring additional documentation with you for proof of name change, such
            as your social security card so check before you go.


        b) Obtain certified copies of your Order so that you may present it as proof to other
            governmental agencies.


        c) Change your name with the Social Security Administration. Check their website for
            details on how to accomplish this.


        d) In some states, you will need to be sure that a Qualified Domestic Relations Order is
            done to prove that the name change has been accomplished.


        e) Make sure you change your name on all of your bank accounts.


        e) After a new divorce, it is a wise idea to open a new credit with your new name.


        f) Change over the name on all of your insurance policies.


        g) Make sure your will and trust if applicable, are updated with your new name.


        h) Check and see if you need to transfer the titles of any vehicles.


        i) Update your passport.




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                                  Special Notice for Convicted Felons

    If you are felon under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections at the time that you file
    for your name change, you must give written notice to the Department of Corrections five days
    before any hearing on your name change. RCW 4.24.130(2). If you are a convicted sex offender
    you must give notice the county sheriff to the state and county officers where you reside five
    days prior to the hearing for you name change. You must provide a copy of the Order Changing
    Name to the county sheriff and the state patrol within five days of obtaining the order. Failure to
    comply with the above requirements will result in a Class C Felony.



                        Advantages vs. Disadvantages of a Name Change

    Advantages


    One definite advantage of changing your name after a divorce is you will probably need to
    establish credit in your own name. If you open an account in your new name and begin to
    establish credit in your own name, you will build your credit for the future and lessen the
    potential of a negative impact of your spouse negatively impacting your credit down the line.


    Disadvantages


    There really aren’t many disadvantages to changing your name if you choose to do so. A
    possible disadvantage to consider is if your name was tied to your professional business identity.
    Changing your name could negatively impact your business in some circumstances.



    Rules and Regulations in the United States regarding filing for a name change

    State law regulates the requirements and procedures for name changes in the United States.
    These laws would be found in the State Codes.
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DOCUMENT INFO
Description: This is a guide that explains the procedure for a person to legally changing his or her name. This guide explains whether a lawyer is needed, how to find a reputable law firm, eligibility, filing fees and deadlines, advantages and disadvantages of a name change, and steps to changing a name after a divorce. This document should be used by individuals who want to learn more information about how to legally change their name.
This document is also part of a package Name Change 2 Documents Included