Getting a name change is common and there are many reasons that residents choose to do so. In the United States, it is common to change your name after marriage or divorce. However, many others change their name after gender reassignment, for cultural reasons or because they desire to solidify a new identity.
After deciding that you want to undergo a legal name change, you will discover that you can give yourself an entirely new name especially with the lack of formal rules in the United States regarding names and changes. There are several ways to complete this process depending on your situation. Continue reading below to learn about why residents change their names and how you can change yours.
Reasons Why People Get a Name Change
If you are wondering how to change your name, you are not alone. Many residents seek to alter their monikers for various reasons. Some complete the process of changing their names simply because they never liked the names they were given. In other instances, religion or culture plays a role in the decision. Review the sections below to learn about the most common reasons that prompt residents to ask “how do I change my name?”
In many instances, adopted children and their new parents seek to complete a name change. This is done for many reasons but most often the purpose is to solidify the child’s inclusion into his or her new family.
In the United States, one partner usually adopts the surname of the other. Alternatively, other married couples combine their last names or create a hyphenated last name that combines both of their surnames.
Residents who have undergone a divorce commonly inquire about how to legally change their last name. Many seek out a change of name after divorce in order to restore their previous surname and finalize the separation from their partner.
A common question among residents who have completed gender reassignment is “how do I change my name?” Getting a name change legally after gender reassignment helps many residents who have undergone a transition to solidify their identity.
Some residents desire to complete the legal change process in order to protect themselves against others who want to hurt them. This is often the case in situations of domestic violence. By changing your name, survivors will reduce or eliminate the chances of being found by an abuser or stalker.
Things to Know Before Getting a Name Change
Before applying for a legal name change, residents must understand that there are several limitations and rules they must abide by. However, each U.S. state has different specifications regarding what is allowable in terms of the names that can be used. For instance, many stays disallow changes of names for applicants seeking to avoid debt or legal actions made against them.
Moreover, if you are inquiring about how to change your name, you must ensure the change will name be detrimental to others or their interests. An example of this changing your name to that of a celebrity or other public figure. Many state courts will not permit this unless you can convince them that your reason for selecting this name not related to the public figure.
In addition, it is important to know that there is a cost to change a name. Depending on the state that you live in, you may be required to pay between $100 and $200 in fees. There may be other fees such as court and filing costs associated with changing your name.
Find Out How to Legally Change Your Name
If you are seeking a legal name change, there are certain steps that you must take to make that happen. A number of state governments require you to change your name through the court system. Typically, change your name this way requires that you submit a petition for a name change in the form of a court order.
Another way to get a change of name, especially regarding your last name, is through a divorce decree or marriage certificate. When getting married, a partner can write down his or her new name on the marriage certificate and this document will be sufficient evidence of a name change. Likewise, when getting name change after a divorce, you can change your last name to your previous surname.
What to Do After Changing Your Name
After you change your name, there are several other steps that you must take to legalize your new name. For example, you must notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you have updated your name. Then, you will have to apply for a Social Security change of name and obtain a new card. In addition, you must update your name with a number of other agencies. These include:
- The DMV.
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- Your credit card companies.
- Your car insurance provider.
- Your health insurance company.
- Your bank.
- Your employer.
After you discover how to legally change your name and complete the process, it is essential to update the above institutions about this alteration. Otherwise it may be difficult to obtain important documents or maintain communication. Moreover, financial and legal institutions may assume identity theft if you begin using your new name without providing proof of a legal change of name. However, in certain states like California, you do not need to have a legal change in order to begin using a different name on any of the following documents:
- Driver’s license.
- Social Security card.