Why do people change their names?

Q.Why do people change their names?
A. People decide to change their names for a variety of reasons. Some situations which may give rise to wanting a name change include:
  • if you are married and you want to restore your birth name;
  • if you are divorced (or your marriage has been annulled) and you want to restore your previous name;
  • if you are a divorced parent and you want you and your child to share the same last name;
  • if you are the legal guardian of a child and you want the child to share the same last name;
  • if you are an immigrant and want a name that reflects your new surroundings;
  • if you are trying to reconnect with your ancestral roots and want your name to reflect your heritage;
  • if you are a transgender person and want your name to reflect your gender; or
  • if you simply feel that your name does not suit you.
The fact that you do not want your current name is all the reason most people need to change their name. In most circumstances, a reasonable explanation should suffice for the courts to grant the change.

Do I need an attorney to represent me?

Q.Do I need an attorney to represent me?
A. In most circumstances, you do not require an attorney to represent you in a name change petition.

Why do I have to make a court petition to change my name?

Q.Why do I have to make a court petition to change my name?
A. Previously, you could change your name by simply adopting a new name and using it consistently over a period of time. This is no longer the case. Given the possibility of identity theft and security breaches, you will now require official recognition of your name change. In most circumstances, you must have a court order to prove that your name has legally been changed.

When is a court petition not required to make a name change?

Q.When is a court petition not required to make a name change?
A. Sometimes it is not necessary to make a formal petition for a name change. If you are getting married and both of you want to change your name all you have to do is provide a certified copy of your marriage certificate as “proof” of the name change.

Also, if you are currently involved in some form of ongoing proceeding where name changes are granted, you may simply ask the court to provide a court order for a name change. The following proceedings allow you to make a name change without a formal petition:
  • Divorce Proceeding - If you are involved in a divorce proceeding in California, you can simply make a request to the judge handling your case to restore your previous name.
  • U.S. Citizenship - If you are applying for U.S. Citizenship, you can enter a new name in Part 1 Section D of your Application for Naturalization N-400 form. After the swearing in ceremony, your new name will be official (the swearing in ceremony must be performed by a judge for this to work).
  • Adoption - If you are involved in an adoption proceeding, you can ask that your adopted child’s name change be included in the adoption order.

Are there any requirements I must meet to make a name change application in California?

Q.Are there any requirements I must meet to make a name change application in California?
A. In order to make a name change you must meet the following requirements:
  • you must be over the age of 18;
  • you must be a resident of the state of California; and
  • you must be a resident of the county where you will file the petition in Superior Court.

What are the types of name changes available to me?

Q.What are the types of name changes available to me?
A. LawDepot provides name change packages based on 3 different scenarios:
  1. Basic name change - This name change is available for individuals who want to petition the court to change their own names or the name of a child.
  2. Divorced individuals who want to return to their former name - This name change is available to divorced individuals (divorce must have taken place in California) who wish to return to their birth name or a name from a previous marriage.
  3. Name and gender change - This name change is available to individuals who want to petition the court to change their name and their official gender designation.