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

  • How do you get the cost of a name change fee waived. I am on disability. Are there certain papers I need to show proof of income and if so which ones. How is a waive determined at the time of filing and who decides?
  • I am a father with joint custody of my 2 1/2 year old son. His last name is his mother's on the birth certificate. How can I go about changing his last name to mine? We have had joint custody since he was 8 months old and I have been there since his birth.
  • My child was born out of wedlock and me and the father rarely speak. I plan on giving the child my last name. Does he have any rights to change the name?
  • Can i change the last name of my child from his biological fathers to mine, legally with out his consent if he is incarerated?
  • How do I change my name in AZ and Maricopa County
  • how old do you have to be to change your name
  • I am a convicted felon, can I legally change my name?
  • I am a widow and would like to return to my maiden name; do I need to file a name change request? or can I just go back to my maiden name
  • How much does it cost to get a name change?
  • I have a 6year old daughter from a previous relationship we were never married,but she has his last name. He is paying child support. I've been married for 3 years and have two more children,and i would like to change my daughter's last name to ours. how would i do this and would it effect child support payments?

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