Name Change Article


How To Change Your Name

How To Change Your Name

By Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc.

Introduction

Changing your name is a relatively simple procedure that can usually be done without a lawyer. Just about anyone can change his or her name, for any good reason. The 3 most common reasons for a name change are: 

  • When a person wants to return to a prior name after a dissolution of marriage (divorce). This type of name change is typically done as part of the divorce, but it can also be done as a separate matter. If you change your name as part of the Dissolution of Marriage (divorce), you need to get a certified copy of the Decree from the Clerk of the Court. You will be able to change your name on your driver's license, social security card and bank account with this certified copy.
  • When a parent wants to change a child's name to be the same as the parents.
  • When a person simply may not like the name they have, and wants to establish a new identity.

A name change may not be allowed if the court thinks that the change might affect the rights of another person such as a creditor or the other parent of the child. It is important to recognize that after a name change, you are still the same person. You will still have all the same legal responsibilities and obligations; you will simply be known by a different name.

Procedure for Legally Changing Your Name

In order to legally change your name you must prepare three documents:

  1. Petition for Change of Name (also called an Application for Change of Name);
  2. an Order of Name Change; and
  3. a Notice of Hearing Regarding Application for Name Change.

These forms can be found on the Internet at the Self Service Center of the Maricopa County Superior Court , or in person at your county superior court. Click here to find the superior court in your county. The name change forms were prepared for use in Maricopa County but can be used in other Arizona counties if you change "Maricopa" to your county name in the pleadings. Make sure you fill out the papers completely and that they are legible. Along with the forms, you can obtain a complete set of instructions for filing the petition.

Take the original and two copies of each document to the superior court building in your county. There is a filing fee; the amount varies from county to county. If you do not have the money to pay the filing fee, you can ask that it be waived (so you never have to pay it) or that it be deferred (so you pay it later).

Each county has its own procedure for setting a hearing on the name change. When you file your papers with the court, the clerk can tell you about the hearing procedure.

Once the judge signs the order changing the name, you will need to get a certified copy of the order from the Clerk of the Court. You can then contact Social Security, the Driver's License Bureau, your bank, etc. to change your name in their records.

To amend your birth certificate, take or mail a certified copy of the Order to the Bureau of Vital Records, or its equivalent, in the state where you were born. Request that your birth certificate be changed to reflect your new name. There will be a fee for this. In Arizona these records are maintained by the counties. You should contact the county where you were born.

Procedure for Legally Changing Your Child's Name

This procedure is similar to the procedure for changing your own name. The court uses a slightly different process for a petition and order for changing a child's name. All of the necessary forms and instructions for this can also be found on the Internet at the Self Service Center of the Maricopa County Superior Court , or in person at the superior court building in your county. Click here to find the superior court in your county. The forms were prepared for use in Maricopa County but can be used in other Arizona counties if you change "Maricopa" to your county name in the pleadings. Make sure you fill out the papers completely and that they are legible. Along with the forms, you can obtain a complete set of instructions for filing the petition.

Typically, the child's other parent will have to be notified of your application to change the child's name. If the other parent does not object, the simplest thing to do is have both parents sign the Petition. You can also have the other parent sign a consent to the name change. If the parent does not agree and sign a consent or the petition, then you must serve the petition upon him/her. If he does not object in writing or at the hearing, the court is likely to order the name change. If the other parent does object, the court is less likely to order the change, particularly if the other parent has maintained a relationship with the child. There may be other reasons the court will approve the name change even if the other parent objects.

If the other parent will not sign the consent, you will need to serve him with notice of the hearing on the name change. He can sign an acceptance of service, which says he received notice, or you may have him served by certified mail or a process server. If you serve him by certified mail, you must serve him at least 30 days before the hearing and he must have signed the return receipt for the certified mail. You will file the return receipt along with an Affidavit of Service by Certified Mail.

If you do not know where the other parent is you may serve him by publication. First you must try to locate him. Contact any friends or family members, check his last employer, etc. If you still cannot find him you may serve him by publishing your Petition in a newspaper available to the general public in the county where he was last known to have lived. It is a good idea to call a few newspapers in the area to find which is least expensive, as the rates vary widely.


Comments:

On 5/24/07
Leaha said
My ex and I had a daughter, and when she was 2 months old he was incarcerated for 3 counts of child abuse. I want to change her last name to mine, but documents say both signatures are required. He is in prison for 10 years..do I have to have it!?

On 5/21/07
James said
If my dad has abandoned me and not been involved in my life at all for 12 years, can I change my name stating abandonment as the reason and not have to pay?

QUESTIONS

  • throughout my pregnancy the father of my child wasn't around because I felt threatened by him and when I gave birth I gave my son my last name which means he is not in the birth certificate hes been around , spend time with our son but now he wants to take me to court to change the last name . what can I do to keep my last name? and no we weren't married or planned on it
  • I recently divorced, and due to an error the request to restore my maiden name was not checked on the decree. I currently live out of state for graduate school, though I still hold an AZ driver's license and remain registered as a resident in Pima County. Since I am out of state, how do I now go about getting my name restored?
  • My daughter who is 14 almost 15 would like to change her name. She would like to have this changed before she gets her drivers licenses. Do you know how much this will cost and what is involved?
  • My daughter was born in 2004, at the time my boyfriend did not have ID on him so they would not let him sign the birth certificate. We were planning on changing her last name from mines to his before she started school, in Nov 2006 he was killed she does get social security from her father and I really would like to grant his wish for his only child to have his last name and she was always taught that her last name is his, please tell me what I can do to change her last name to his?
  • I want to change my name due to domestic violence. He was convicted in Texas, a felony. And here but only a misdemeanor. Im getting ready to move and want it done fast. I dont know where he is but I know hes keeping a eye on me. I dont have the funds to pay so how do I go about it
  • I need to know how to change my name back to my maiden name.I have been divorced for nine years now my Daughter from this marriage is now 18 and I no longer have her on my insurance as that is why I didnt take my maiden name back at the time of the divorce and now I want to change it.So if you could please tell me how I can do that and I am on a limited income so free help would be great. Thank You
  • How much are the fees for changing my name?
  • Does my spouse have to sign my petition for legal name change for me to go back to my maiden name? There are no divorce proceedings pending.
  • I need names ADDED to filed certificates, not changed. There are no court order forms for this as required by the Office of Vital Records (R9-114 thru R9-118) This set of twins only needs to add given names, not change their surnames. The forms available are not accurate for this situation and cannot be used without major adjustments. Need these certificates immediately for plane travel requiring ID. HELP
  • My soon to be wife and I would like to create a new last name when we get married, how do I fill out the marriage license form to reflect that?

STORIES

  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .
  • If you get a divorce, make sure your date of birth is on the Decree if your name is changing!. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .

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OTHER LEGAL RESOURCES

  • State Bar of Arizona
    www.azbar.org
  • Maricopa County Bar
    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
  • Pima County Bar
    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
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    866-553-0893
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