45 Comments

Name change is a legal process where a person adopts a new name distinct from their name of adoption, marriage or birth. Depending on the jurisdiction, the ease and procedures of name change really vary. Across the United States, changing names is regulated by State laws. If you're not changing your name as a result of marriage, or your name change preference (marriage or not) isn't allowed, you'll have to undergo a court petitioned name change which will involve publishing your name change in the newspaper.

Normally, anyone can adopt the name they desire. In fact, by 2009, about 46 states had allowed people to change their names just by usage without any paperwork done. This is referred to as a common law name change. While this sounds like a great option, in reality, it isn't a truly practical way to go about "officially" changing one's name. A court order might be needed for any institution such as the government's or banks. There are also states allowing transgender people to effect name changes either after or prior to a sex reassignment kind of surgery.

While all the states except Louisiana follow the common law, the requirements acceptable are a little different. However, the most efficient way of getting your name changed is through a court order applied in a state court beyond marriage where name change is accepted universally.

Right reason for name change

At the same time, anyone seeking a name change must plead the reason is not fraudulent in nature or for any illegal reason, like defaming another, evading debt or lien among others. After giving a good explanation on why you want a name change, you will have to pay a fee before posting a legal notice in distinct newspapers announcing what you have done or about to. Unless the name change is for an immoral, frivolous or fraudulent purpose, the judge cannot deny it.

Publishing a legal notice on newspapers

The main reason why the law requires anyone who wants to change his or her name to publish it in a newspaper is simply to make it a public record. People whom you might have legitimate and legal responsibilities have to know, their right under the law, when you have changed your name. Otherwise, anyone can decide to change his or her name to avoid debts, commit fraud or defame others. Publishing in newspapers is an acceptable way, the only legally accepted one, of providing or giving notice and has to be done.

Essentially, the law requires that the court hearing date and your request for a name change to be published in a newspaper to give all kinds of people the chance to know what you are doing and perhaps object if there is cause to do so. In most cases, no one really objects but the law has to be followed and getting a court order to effect your name change will not be done unless it has been completed.

Exceptions to publishing name change publicly

It is also worth indicating there are exceptions where you might not have to publish a notice in newspapers for a number of reasons. You do not need to publish if you are doing so for the sole purpose of conforming to your own sex or gender identity. Also, you will not be allowed to publish if you are already in the address confidentiality program, state witness program, seeking name change to avoid stalkers or domestic violence or if you are a sexual assault victim or requesting changing of names on behalf of a sexual assault victim. Nonetheless, in case of any of these reasons you have to explain it in the court provided forms, mostly an attachment to petition of name changes.

Publishing the name change notice

Once the name change request has been granted, you must put up a notice indicating so in a newspaper that the court has chosen. In the signed order, it is clearly indicated that you have been given 60 days from the time the order is given to take out an advert in a newspaper referred to as a "publication", which is an advert giving notice you have changed your name legally. In most cases, the order indicates the newspapers or newspaper name where the notice must appear, the content of the notice and the number of times it has to be published.

Contacting the newspaper

You can contact the local newspaper via the phone book or Internet, which has to be a newspaper that distributes where you live. Call the newspaper and indicate you want to take out an advertisement of a personal nature in the newspaper's announcements section and indicate both the new name and old name in the announcement while making it as clear as day your name has been changed. Certain states require an address be listed with the announcement. Your ad will typically be positioned in the "legal notices" section of the classifieds ads.

The payment can be made using a credit card online or over the phone or any other means the newspaper might allow you. While low income individuals can get fee waivers and might not be required to pay any filing fee in name change petitions, publishing the name change in a newspaper distributed locally does not attract any fee waiver. Newspapers also charge personal advertisements differently and you might have to shop around for the most affordable in a newspaper the court accepts.

You must take the order copy to the indicated newspaper as soon as you can for the notice to be published forthwith. You have the responsibility of paying the fee for the publishing and a publication affidavit is given once you are done. This is then brought back to the office of the Clerk so that it can be filed within three months or 90 days of the date appearing on the order that has been signed. After publication affidavit has been filed, you can consider the name change process a success and complete, meaning you can start using it.

It is the signed order that you have to use to change all the legal documents you own, from the social security card, birth certificate and other identifications issued by the government such as driver's license or passport. The order in certified copies can be taken from the office of the clerk after the filing of the publication affidavit and you need to have a certified copy with you, just in case.

It is also worth noting there are courts in certain jurisdictions that only require a different kind of announcement rather than a newspaper advert, such as posting some kind of a flyer on a specific bulletin board in your city or town.

45 Comments

  1. Anthony peter

    I change my name early this year and due to bill for advertising I've not yet done it. Please will dey be any problem on when I have Money to so?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Are you saying you've had your name published in the newspaper, yet haven't paid the bill? If so, that's something you'll have to contact the court about; to determine if it will hinder your name change from completing.

      Reply
  2. Mary

    I have to establish a name for my home daycare, I'm advised to publish the business name in newspaper does it cost?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mary. Yes, newspaper publications do cost. You'll have to contact them about fees.

      Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Artem. When going through a court ordered name change you'll have to provide proof that your name was published in the time span the court specified. If not, there may be a delay. You'll have to contact the court for what to do, such as getting an extension.

      Reply
  3. Sophie

    I am already married, traditional and church wedding and I hv both d certificate. How can I use them to change my name and publish it cuz I need d newspaper publication to change my BVN.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sophie. If you're looking to undergo a marriage-related name change, you don't need to publish your name change intention in a newspaper. That's just for court petitioned name changes.

      Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi John. That depends on how sophisticated the newspaper's operation is. You'll have to contact them to inquire.

      Reply
  4. John Doe

    Hello, I was wondering as a transgender male, if I can request it not to be published in the newspaper?

    My main reason to not have it published is for my own safety, as I live in a unsafe town/neighborhood.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My main reason to not have it published is for my own safety, as I live in a unsafe town/neighborhood.

      It is possible the for the court to dismiss the need to publish your name if you explain your concerns. The court petitioned name change article briefly touches on this in the "order to show cause" section.

      Reply
  5. Aurelie B

    I applied for my citizenship and under a section, it was asked if I wanted to change my legal name, I said yes and put my desired name. I got naturalized and received the certificate of naturalization in addition to a court document approving my name change,
    I have since did my U.S. passport in addition to updated my social security information.
    But I have not published anything in the newspapers, or taken any other steps.
    Nobody told me at the naturalization ceremony of the next steps I have to take.
    So can someone advise me on what to do next?
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      But I have not published anything in the newspapers, or taken any other steps.

      That's only for court-petitioned name changes, which yours is not.

      Reply
  6. Widow

    If my spouse has passed away, will I need to publish my intent to revert to my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi. Typically, any court petitioned name change would require publication, but you can request that it be waived. It's not guaranteed that it will be, but you can certainly request it.

      Reply
  7. Dharmesh

    There is some confusion I see, I am doing this for my son's name change

    for this 1. If both parents(biological) agree for name change – than court don't need any newspaper publication, otherwise they gives you date of court appearance 6-8 weeks after first you give application and within that you need to take court notice to publication and asked them to publish(may be 2-3 weeks per local requirement). once newspaper gives you certificate you take it along with to court's date and judge will ask reasons for change

    2. For adults its mandatory to publish, to let others know that you are not doing to avoid any debt or other financial/criminal reasons

    As far as cost is concerned, you can ask for fee waiver and publication help if you can prove your income source qualifies for it. Just not willing to pay will not make it, your income should support that you don't earn enough to spend

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Dharmesh. Publication standards vary from state to state, and can also vary between courts. Generally, your understanding of the process is solid. Some courts allow publication to be dismissed for domestic violence victims. Some courts have fee waivers, some don't.

      Reply
  8. Krystallos liggs

    What is the local number to some DE newspapers? Also, can I change my first name when I get married?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What is the local number to some DE newspapers?

      Here's a list of Delaware newspapers, but you'll want to get clearance from the court to determine if they're acceptable. You should be able to find phone numbers on their websites.

      Also, can I change my first name when I get married?

      No, you'll have to petition the court for that.

      Reply
  9. Funbi

    Please my bank closed my account due to the disruption in my names and I operate two bank acct Skye and stanbic but in the Skye bank account my surname is Ogundare while on stanbic my surname is oluwadare and its also the name I used for my bvn and I'm having money in my Skye acvoun and was told by stanbic to go get a court affidavit for them to get it dome for me .please I'm asking hope I don't need to do newspaper publication?

    Reply
    1. Funbi

      I did my bvn at stanbic account .I need a clarification on this people.. Awaits your response soon

      Reply
    2. Valera

      Hi Funbi. Your bank closure due to a name mismatch isn't related to having to publish your name in a newspaper. It's a bank-client matter that you'll have to resolve with them.

      Reply
  10. Madison

    I'm a little lost with this process and have no one to help me. Do you have to go to the hearing first verdure publishing this? Or is it after you get the time and date?
    I'm even confused on how I will explain this in court. I'm trying to change my first and middle. Mostly to escape stalkers, my ex husband, and kind of like to restart my life after some traumatic events. Can I get any advice on a good way to word this in court?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do you have to go to the hearing first verdure publishing this? Or is it after you get the time and date?

      Hearing first.

      Can I get any advice on a good way to word this in court?

      How you just explained it is perfectly fine. You can state that you're looking to achieve greater privacy and security from a prior spouse/relationship.

      You can also request the judge waive the requirement that you publish your name change in a newspaper if you're concerned about such visibility endangering your safety.

      Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Titus. You'll have to contact the newspaper directly for pricing. If you're going through the courts to do it, you can inquire if they can provide a list of approved publishers.

      Reply
  11. Taco Man

    Hi I turned 18 a couple months ago and I would like to change my first name. Do I have to have it published on newspaper? I don't want it to be published because I don't like bring attention to myself and I want to do it for my safety. I don't have any debts or any legal problems so can that help me from getting it published?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Taco. Persons who are registered with their state's address confidentiality program (not all states have set this up) are not required to publish their name. But that's only for victims of domestic abuse and stalking. If you're just looking to guard your privacy, you'll have to request a waiver from the judge. There's no guarantee it'll be granted though.

      When you make your application for a name change you can ask the court clerk what the likelihood of getting a waiver may be prior to you paying the court fees.

      Reply
  12. Ikeriugwo Akuyoma Agnes

    Hi, my name is Agnes and I am unmarried. I want to change my name cos I am no longer attached to it. I just wanna know how many times one can have their names changed, cos my sister who works in a bank says it can only be done once, considering the fact that I am unmarried. How true is it that if I get married in a couple of years, I will not be able to change my name again if I do it now?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ikeriugwo. There is no limit to how many times you can change your name. Perhaps your sister was suggesting the limit was one because that is the limit per name change event. For instance, if you were to marry, you can change your name using your marriage certificate once. Trying to change it again using the same certificate wouldn't work. If you were to get a court order you could change it a second time, but not again using the same court order.

      Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tibishi. It varies per newspaper. Some will cost you $20, while others can go up to $200. You'll have to look up their rate card. Most newspapers display such prices on their website, or you can call them directly for pricing.

      Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Tibishi. You'd have to contact the newspaper directly for rates.

          Reply
  13. alpha

    My daughter just turned18 and wants to change her name so it will be on her diploma when she graduates in 4-5 weeks how can I word that on the waiver to publish

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Alpha. You needn't give that detailed a reason. At a minimum just word it that this person is opting to undergo a name change, and that's it. You don't have to detail why.

      Reply
  14. Keely Ellingson

    I got married and changed my name, just after divorce I went back to my maiden name, I now want to go back to my married name although I am not getting remarried. Can I still use my original marriage license and/or divorce decree or do I need a separate court order and publication now?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Keely. If you've officially changed your name back to your maiden, you'll have to get a court order to do it again.

      Reply
  15. Christine Lewis-nelson

    What is the number for my local newspaper if I live in lake county Indiana and I need to publish a name change for my child that is a minor? How much does it cost

    Reply
    1. Valera

      What is the number for my local newspaper if I live in lake county Indiana

      If you're referring to the Times of Northwest Indiana, their website lists their phone directory.

      Reply
  16. TP

    My wife is looking to chnge her last name after we got married and add an english middle name. Does she still need to publish her birth date etc in a newspaper? State is NY.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My wife is looking to chnge her last name after we got married and add an english middle name.

      If you're saying she wants to add a brand new middle name, that's not possible without a court order.

      Does she still need to publish her birth date etc in a newspaper?

      Not for a marriage name change, but if she's looking to change her name to an entirely new middle name that's not derived from anything, then that's not possible without going to court.

      Reply
  17. Michelle

    I have newborn twins and I want to change there names do I have to wait until they turn 1 year? And will I be allowed to change there names just because I want different names? How can I word that to the judge?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Michelle. You don't have to wait. Just tell the judge the truth: you prefer a different name.

      Reply

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