Whether you’re getting married, divorced, or have another reason for changing your name, you will have to fill out paperwork – and you may have to appear in court. In Texas, how you change your name depends on why you’re changing it.
If you’re getting married, you can simply take your spouse’s last name or add their last name to yours in the name-change section of your marriage certificate. You will not have to go to court, but you will need to take your certificate to the country clerk’s office with your government ID and proof of your Social Security number. You will also have to pay a fee ranging from $30 to $85 depending on where in Texas you live.
During a divorce, you can request a name change. If you’re the one filing, you can include this request in your petition for divorce, and if you’ve been served with divorce papers, you can request a name change in your answer to the petition.
Your name change will be included in the divorce decree, which means you can apply for a name change certificate at the county clerk’s office without going to court and receiving a court order.
You may have countless reasons, besides marriage and divorce, to want to change your name. Maybe you even want to change your child’s name. Court name-change procedures are the same for you and your child, but if your child is 10 years of age or older, they must consent in writing to the change. Otherwise, you must be at least 18 years of age or older to file for a name change.
To do so, there are 6 steps:
- Get a copy of your fingerprints and a background check.
- Complete an “Original Petition for Change of Name.”
- Prepare an “Order for Change of Name.”
- File the Petition for Change of Name and schedule your court hearing.
- Attend your court hearing.
- File the signed Order for Change of Name.
Note: If you wish to change a spelling error or typo on your birth certificate, you may be able to do so through the Texas Vital Statistics office without a court order.
When filing your Petition, be sure to include a legible and complete set of your fingerprints, your background check,and the following information:
- Your full legal name and place of residence
- Your date of birth, sex, and race
- Any driver’s license number(s) you have had for the past 10 years
- Your Social Security number
- Your requested (new) name
- Why you’re changing your name
- Any history of felony convictions
- Whether you are a registered sex offender
- Any number that has been used to identify you in any criminal history record system
- Any charges of crimes above a Class C misdemeanor, including warrants, and case numbers
Make 3 copies of your original Petition and file the original at the court clerk’s office using an official form of photo identification. Keep in mind that you will need to pay a filing fee of $250 to $350.
What To Expect From Your Court Hearing
At your hearing, you will present your Order for Change of Name to the judge, swear that all the information in your Petition is true, and explain why you are requesting your name change.
Usually, the judge approves your name change and signs your Order. Once you file the signed Order with the court clerk’s office, your name change is official!
Updating Your Name
You must change your name on your driver’s license and vehicle registration within 30 days of your name change, and you will need to get a new Social Security card, voter registration, and passport, as well. You should also change your name with banks, lenders, employers, and insurance companies.
Your name will stay the same on your birth certificate unless you obtained a court order that permits you to change your name and gender. If so, you will have to complete another form and application to amend your birth certificate.
Changing your name can be complicated in certain situations, and there’s no shame in asking for help. You can find plenty of resources using the Texas State Law Library and the State Bar of Texas, but it’s always a good idea to have an attorney look over your paperwork.
Kay Polk, Attorney at Law can also represent you during your court hearing, if necessary, and help you with your name change from the first form to the last!