How do I change my name?

Due to a variety of circumstances, I want to seek to change my name. I am not wanting to get married or anything like that. What is generally required in this process?

A name change generally starts with the filing of a petition requesting the desired name change. Among other things, the petition should indicate the person’s birth or current name and identify the requested new name.

There are some relatively significant expenses in seeking a name change. The person requesting the name change, or petitioner, must pay a filing fee that varies by the county. In Harvey County that amount is $178. Additionally, publication costs can easily amount to up to a couple hundred dollars and the petitioner may additionally hire an attorney to navigate the process.

The law seeks to protect against one seeking a name change simply to avoid legal obligations such as debts or criminal activity. Thus, efforts are made to ensure that the name change is not being sought for this purpose. The petition must explain that the proposed name change will not be prejudicial to another party.

Additionally, notification requirements exist with a name change. All parties impacted by the proposed name change must be given proper notice of the matter. Additionally, notice is generally published in a local newspaper of the proposed name change to alert potential parties that may not be immediately ascertainable but have a stake in the action.

After all notice requirements have been satisfied and the requisite period has passed, the person may then seek to finalize the name change. Several accompanying documents are filed at this point including a final journal entry indicating the new name.

The petitioner can then use a copy of the certified journal entry to make changes with other governmental agencies for matters such as changing a driver’s license and changes with the Social Security Administration.

Name changes are common and people pursue them for a variety of valid reasons. On the other hand, those with a flair for the eccentric can follow the lead of Los Angeles Laker’s forward Ron Artest who just changed his name to Metta World Peace.