Congratulations! You’re changing your name!
You’re likely doing so for a great reason, like marrying the love of your life or becoming the person you were always meant to be. But, even if it’s for a not so happy reason, like a divorce, congratulations are still in order: you’re moving on to the next chapter of your life.
Amid all of the excitement, nerves and emotions that go into a wedding, transition, or even a divorce, legally changing your name may be a piece of business you have on your list but haven’t gotten around to yet.
The process may seem overwhelming, but it actually isn’t. In this blog post, we’ll go over how to change your name in California so you can start afresh.
When we think of name changes, we most often think of marriages and people changing their surnames. However, around the world, a record number of people are changing their names. In many cases, this is their last name. But, more people than ever are changing their first names as well, for a variety of reasons.
While a judge in California has the right to deny your name change, be aware that this only happens in certain circumstances, such as choosing an offensive name or asking to legally change your name to a string of numbers. You may also not change your name legally to a name with a numeral in it, such as B3lla instead of Bella.
As this is the most common way to change your name, the state of California has made this process the easiest.
In most cases, you can have your marriage license certified. Once you’ve had this certified, you can then apply for a new social security card, passport and driver’s license just by showing the certified marriage license.
If there is a problem or confusion, any one of these agencies may ask you to get a court order, which is usually reserved for the other categories of a name change.
Changing your name after a divorce if your divorce is final and was granted in the state of California is also fairly simple.
Using the California court’s website, you’ll need to contact the clerk at the court where the divorce was finalized. You’ll want to give the clerk the case name (which is typically the names of those involved), the case number and the date of the judgement.
You’ll then fill out an Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (Family Law) and send it to the court. Your paperwork will be available in 2 to 4 weeks.
If your divorce is not final, speak to your family lawyer. They can help you ask the court for permission to restore your maiden name with the judgement.
In the event that your divorce was granted in another state, contact the court where the divorce was finalized and ask if there is a similar process to restore your maiden name.
One common reason people change their name is because they have changed their gender.
In order to do so, you’ll need to fill out seven forms, which are on the California Courts website for your convenience. These seven forms can be procured at your court clerk’s office, or you can download them from the Internet, fill them out and then bring them in.
Once they’ve been filled out, file them. The clerk will then give you Order to Show Cause for Change of Name to Conform to Gender Identity. If anyone objects to your gender change or name change, they can contact the clerk and they will fill out an objection form. This must be done within six weeks of filing the papers.
If there are no objections, the judge will sign and issue a Decree Changing Name and Order Recognizing Change of Gender and for Issuance of New Birth Certificate. If there are objections, there will be a hearing on the matter.
You can then use your Decree Changing Name and Order Recognizing Change of Gender and for Issuance of New Birth Certificate to change your name and gender on official documents.
The state of California allows you to simplify this process by filling out the forms online, or downloading them.
You will then file the papers with the court clerk and pay the fee. The court will then give you an Order to Show Cause, which will give you all the information you need on your court date.
Unless you are changing your name for privacy reasons or changing your name to suit your gender identity, you’ll need to publish your Order to Show Cause for Change of Name once per week for 4 weeks. The court will likely let you know which papers are acceptable for this purpose. This is at your cost and is not included in the court filing cost. If you waived the filing fee, you’ll still have to pay for publication.
Once the four weeks are up, you’ll give the clerk proof that you published the Order to Show Cause in an appropriate publication and a Decree Changing Name. If there are no questions or objections, the judge will sign it without a hearing. If the judge has questions or objections, you will have to attend the court hearing that was originally scheduled when you filed your papers.
You can then take your Decree Changing Name to change your legal documents.
The process is, understandably, confusing and time-consuming if you’re not changing your name for the reason of a divorce or marriage. Those who would like the make the process easier might want to use a service like UpdateMyName.com, which can help streamline the process, making it simpler and easier.