Name Change Legal Information


Family lawyers deal with variety of different issues within the law.  Despite dealing with bankruptcy law (see Bankruptcy Lawyers), family lawyers practice the part of the law including adoptions, name changes, marriage, prenuptial agreements, immigration, and green cards.  Because a family lawyer can be involved in so many different areas of the law, it is important to employ a family lawyer who has background experience related to your law issues.


Because of recent issues surrounding homeland security and terrorism, the informal ability to change your name that was allowed in the past is no longer recognized.  Today, name changes must go through the court system or agencies such as the department of motor vehicles (DMV) and the social security administration (SSA) will not legally recognize your name change.  The only exception is for couples getting married.  If one spouse is changing their last name to be the same as the other spouse, they only need to take their marriage license to the DMV and SSA, fill out a simple form and their name will be legally changed.  If you want your old name back during a divorce you should include that in your divorce papers.  For all other name changes the procedure is as follows:

  1.  File some simple papers with the local court
  2. Publish a name change request in your local newspaper for 4 weeks
  3. A judge will then issue an order changing your name
  4. Take the court order to the DMV and SSA to have them change your name on official records


  1. You many not change your name to that of a famous person if you will benefit financially or defame the character of the famous person
  2. You cannot use fictitious names that have been copyrighted
  3. You cannot use racial slurs or fighting words



If you need a lawyer to help you with the process of a name change they will most likely be helping your with the legal paperwork.  Since there are specific forms and procedures to follow that are relatively simple and straight forward, a lawyer helping you with a name change should charge you a flat fee.  Agree to a fee with your lawyer before beginning the process of changing your name.