How To: Legally change your name

Legally change your name

Archie Leach. It just doesn't have the same ring as Cary Grant, does it? Marriage, divorce, or just dislike of the name your parents gave you – all are reasons to follow these steps toward a new name.

You Will Need

*Your birth certificate
*Your social security card
*A petition for name change form
*A notary public
*Your marriage license (optional)

Step 1: Choose a new name

Decide what you want your new name to be. Be sure that the name meets your state's guidelines for allowed changes.

Tip: Avoid choosing a new name that is deliberately confusing, or that might be considered offensive or obscene.

Step 2: Contact your county government

Contact your county government offices to determine which court handles name change requests. It varies by state and county, but typically it is the probate or family law court.

Step 3: Learn about required documents and fees

Learn about what documents and fees are required for you to change your name in your home county. A birth certificate and social security card are usually required.

Tip: Get a certified copy of your marriage license if you are legally changing your last name to your spouse's.

Step 4: Fill out a petition for name change form

Have it notarized, and file it with the appropriate court office.

Step 5: Appear before the court

Schedule an official hearing, where the judge will either grant or deny your request for a name change.

Tip: Be prepared to affirm the information on your petition for a name change under oath during your court hearing.

Step 6: Change your name on all other official government documents

Change your name on all other official government documents, such as your driver's license and passport. Contact each government agency to make the change.

Step 7: Use your new name

Use your new name consistently – at home and at work. Soon everyone will know the new you.

Fact: John Wayne's given name was Marion Morrison

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