There are many reasons people give for needing to obtain a legal name change: wanting to go back to a maiden name after a divorce, changing the name of a minor to reflect the biological father, business/professional purposes, and a host of other reasons. If you want to change your name, you must get a court order to change your name legally.
Whether you want a first or last name change, there are several steps that you must take in order to obtain a legal name change. If you are able to hire an attorney, it is always best to have an attorney represent you in obtaining your legal name change. If you simply cannot afford an attorney and would like to represent yourself, these are the steps that you will have to take to change your name legally.
Read the Law
If you are unable to hire an attorney, you should read the law yourself so you understand what you must prove in order to have your legal name change granted. The laws governing legal name changes can be found in Chapter 45 of the Texas Family Code. A link to this can be found at the bottom of this article.
There are several requirements that must be met before your legal name change will be granted by a court, all of which are outlined in the Texas Family Code. If you have been convicted of a crime higher than a Class C Misdemeanor, there are even more requirements that must be met in order for a court to grant your legal name change.
Find name change forms online or at your local courthouse law library
If you are representing yourself, you will need to obtain the documents to have your legal name change granted by a court. You will need an Original Petition for Change of Name. These are your “pleadings” that tell the court what you are asking for. You will also need to either have your Original Petition for Change of Name “verified,” or sworn to before a notary public, or you will need to have an Affidavit of Person Requesting Change of Name to file with the court along with your pleadings. Finally, you will need a Final Order of Change of Name.
There are many websites that are readily available to provide name change forms. Also, many local courthouses provide the forms you need for your legal name change. There are even some attorneys that will provide name change forms created specifically for you at a low cost. Whatever route you choose, be sure that the name change forms you are using are reliable and legally valid.
File your Petition for Change of Name
Once you have all of your name change forms, you will take your verified Petition for Change of Name or Petition for Change of Name and Affidavit of Person Requesting Change of Name to either the District or County Clerk’s Office in the county where you live. Check your county’s website to find out which court(s) hear legal name change cases so you know where to file your Petition.
Go to Court and testify to change your name legally
After you have filed your pleadings, you will need to testify before a judge in order to have your legal name change granted. The court will want to know why you are requesting to change your name legally. The court will also want to make sure that you are not requesting the name change to avoid any sort of criminal prosecution or to avoid creditors. If the court is satisfied that your name change is in your interest and the interest of the public, the judge will grant your legal name change and sign your order.
Get certified copies of your Order to change your name with government offices
Once the judge signs your Order Granting Change of Name, you will want to get at least two certified copies from the court clerks. Most governmental agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, will require a certified copy of your order proving your legal name change before they will change your record.
Although having an attorney represent you in order to change your name legally is the best option, it is possible to represent yourself and still get the same result- a legal name change.
Texas Family Code.