Many people assume changing your name is a long, tedious process. In reality, the name changing process is pretty straightforward and simple to follow. This short guide will help guide you through the name change process in Minnesota.
How to change your name through marriage
If you have not already applied for a marriage license, then you should do so now. You can obtain your marriage license in any county in Minnesota so long as you marry some place within the borders of the state.
The marriage license fee is $115 for all Minnesota counties. You may obtain a reduced license fee if you agree to undergo at least 12 hours of premarital education courses. This would decrease the license fee to $40.
It is best for both parties to be present upon the license application. However, if the one party is unable to attend, then the other person may fill out their information for them.
This includes the new full names you and your partner will assume after marriage. Keep in mind that the license is only valid for six months, so plan the ceremony accordingly.
Marriage to person with a felony conviction
If your partner-to-be has had a felony conviction under Minnesota law, however, they cannot change their last name unless they serve a notice of their application to the prosecuting authority or attorney general.
The authority has 30 days to object to this application, especially if they have evidence that the other party is changing their name for fraudulent purposes.
The registrar will then send a certified copy to the other party who will verify this information via notarized statement. It is only then the couple will be given the marriage license.
What can you change your last name to?
Though many women assume their husband's last name after marriage, there is no law in Minnesota that states a woman must do this. The choice to change your last name is yours and yours alone.
You and your partner should decide on your new last names together.
- You both may choose to keep your current last names.
- You may take on your partner's last name, or vice versa.
- You may hyphenate your last names together in whichever order you choose.
- The both of you may even want to change your names altogether.
Minnesota law does not specify if you can change your first or middle names through marriage as well. The laws only state that both your marriage license and certificate require you to fill out both forms with the full names you held before and after the civil marriage takes place.
Traditionally, couples will change their middle and last names through marriage. In other states, you can only change your legal first name if you go through the court system. Minnesota has historically allowed maiden to middle name changes without a problem.
How to change your name through the courts
If you are not getting married, then you will have to go through the court system to change your name. You must be 18 years old or older to file for a name change.
If you are a minor who wishes to change their name, your parent, guardian, or next of kin that is old enough must do so for you. Both parents must be notified of this name change.
Be sure to file this name change in the district court within the county you have resided in for at least six months or more. You may also request to change your spouse's or child's name during this process as well.
Please note that if you have a criminal history in Minnesota or any other state, the courts are required to report this name change application to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension within 10 days of approving of the application. You must also report this name change to the Bureau within 10 days.
Once you pay the filing fee (or request a fee waiver due to low income), the court administrator will either:
- Set a date and time for your hearing for you.
- Guide you through the process of setting your court hearing date.
If you want to change a minor's name, then you must tell the non-applying parent of this court date as well.
The name change applicant must bring two witnesses to the hearing with them who can testify about the applicant's identity. Should the name change be for a minor, the minor in question must also be present.
Should the judge approve of the name change, they will sign an Order Granting Name Change. You may get certified copies of this Order for a fee from the courts to change your legal name on all important documents (i.e., your driver's license, social security card, etc).
The judge may also order you to notify public agencies, officials, and other third parties about this name change as well.
How to change your name after a divorce
Changing your name after a divorce is quite simple. You or your former partner can request that the judge grant a name change in the final decree of the dissolution or legal separation of your marriage.
The courts will typically grant this request unless there is evidence that you want to change your name for fraudulent purposes. Your name change may also be denied if you have a felony conviction and someone has objected to this change.
What can you change your name to?
The divorce judge will allow you, your former partner, or the both of you to change your first, middle, or last names during a divorce hearing. However, much like the marriage statutes, it is unclear as to whether you can change it to something new entirely or not.
In most states, district courts only allow one or both parties to change their names back to a birth name or any other previously-held surname.
Once this process is over, you and your partner's new names will then be designated in the final divorce decree.