A Complete Guide to Legal Name Change in Missouri

Missouri name change through marriage, divorce, or court order

In the state of Missouri, name change is permissible as per statute 527.270 of the state that allows any resident to change their name for social, religious, personal, divorce, or marriage reasons. The procedure needn't be complex or slow, assuming you've got the right guide. Let us light your path. Starting with the most common form of name change: marriage…

Marriage name change

Legal name change is very simple when done through marriage. But you need to make sure your marriage follows state law. Before you get married, apply for a marriage license within any Missouri Recorder of Deeds office. They’re often found in the county courthouse. Chapter 451 of Missouri’s revised statues determines the state’s marriage laws.

A Missouri marriage license is available to residents and nonresidents who intend to get married in the state. License fees vary from one county to the other, but expect to pay around $50. (Give or take $10.) Every office takes cash, while fewer accept checks, money orders, and credit or debit cards. The latter two may incur a surcharge.

There's no waiting period before you receive your license; it's given right away once they approve your application. You and your partner must come before the deeds recorder (or their deputy) with valid ID showing your date of birth, such as a driver's license or passport. Bring a certified copy of your birth certificate if you’re younger than 18 years old.

One applicant who’s at least 18 years old may apply absentee in cases of active duty military status, incarceration, or disability. Whoever applies solo must bring the other’s completed absentee verification form. You can pick up this form at the recorder of deeds office.

There’s no tail-end waiting period after you get your marriage license; meaning you can get married without delay. Your license will stay valid for 30 days after it’s issued. If it expires, you must reapply and repay the license fee. (Starting from scratch.)

Legal adults age 18 and older don’t need their parent’s consent to marry: minors do. One custodial parent or legal guardian must grant consent for their child to marry in person or via notarized consent form (gotten from the recorder’s office). There are caveats and cut-off points. For instance, Missouri excludes anyone below age 16 from marrying (as of July 13, 2018).

To change your name after marriage, get married first and receive a marriage certificate after completion of the event. Your certificate proves that your marriage is legal and recognized by the state. Such proof of marriage kick-starts the name change process: notifying diverse governmental and nongovernmental bodies of the change. Using a name change kit can simplify it further by bundling your forms and instructions.

You can take another last name after marriage, depending on what suits your fancy. Marriage name change rules apply to same-sex marriages too. Here are your options…

You can take another last name after marriage, depending on what suits your fancy. It’s one of the first legal to-dos after marriage you’ll confront. Marriage name change rules apply to same-sex marriages too. Here are your options…

1. Hyphenate

You can put a hyphen between your spouse’s name and yours. Hyphenating is a simple middle-ground approach if you don’t want to give up too much or hurt your spouse’s feelings and expectations.

2. Add spouse's name to yours

Another choice is adding your husband’s name to yours without dropping your name or without using a hyphen.

3. Maiden to middle

You can make your maiden name your new middle name before taking your spouse’s surname as your new last name. This is a positive way to preserve your premarital identity while honoring your spouse.

4. Taking wife's name

A husband taking his wife’s last name in Missouri isn’t possible through marriage. You’ll need a general adult name change through the circuit court to carry this out. This restriction isn’t unique to Missouri. Only a handful of states allow a man to change his last name to his wife’s using the marriage certificate.

5. Leave your name as it is

You can decide not to change anything and leave your name unchanged as it stands on your marriage license and certificate. This doesn’t prevent you from changing your name later.

Divorce name change

You can get back any prior name once you realize you don’t want to keep your married name. Any prior legal name you’ve held will work, unless your reason for changing defrauds creditors or harms someone else.

You need to ask the divorce court for your new name during your divorce proceeding by checking off a box on the judgment. There’s no extra fee for a divorce-approved name change; you’re paying for that privilege through the dissolution filing fee.

Changing your name through divorce is your choice alone. Your ex-husband, ex-wife, or their new partner can’t force you to revert. Designating a new name on your divorce decree isn’t binding; you can defer the change or ignore it without consequence.

Start by filling out a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form. Tick the checkbox requesting a return to your chosen former name. Have you filed your paperwork without ticking this box? No worries. You can still ask for it midstream. But not after finalization of your divorce.

Your final divorce decree should have the judge’s statement restoring your old name. Otherwise, get it straightened out. Court records can get revised and documents reissued for mistakes and typos. The right to change your name becomes legal once the judge signs the final order and closes your case file.

Ask for a certified copy of your divorce decree from the court. It costs $15 per copy. This may come with an extra fee. The court may give you one certified copy without asking, as part of your filing fees. Your decree serves as proof of name change when contacting governmental and nongovernmental entities to update your name.

Changing your name through divorce has limits. Your choices extend to prior legal names held. Nothing else. You can pursue a brand new name without precedent (after your divorce, of course) by filing a general adult name change petition. It’s a legal matter separate from your divorce. We’ll cover that next.

General adult name change

Missouri statute 527.270 gives every resident the chance to change their name as they deem fit, as long as their reasons are lawful. Missouri circuit courts handle name changes in the state. Start the process by visiting your county’s circuit court and file a Petition for Change of Name form.

Complete and file the petition with both your current name and the new name you want, reason for the change, birth date, and parents’ names with their places of birth. If you have children, insert their names. Include your spouse’s name if you’re married.

It costs about $200 to file a petition for a change of name through Missouri’s circuit courts. Fees differ depending on the county where you live. Get your hearing date scheduled right away or by mail. Again, the steps differ somewhat depending on your county of residence.

Attend your name change hearing and answer the questions from the judge with honesty on the reasons you’re seeking a name change. It’s important to be ready to give a proper motive. It’s not a trial or inquisition. Don’t expect a grilling or shaming for your choice. The court is trying to weed out petitioners who’re attempting to evade debts, commit fraud, or both. You’re fine as long as your endgame is genuine.

After receiving the order, get in touch with a newspaper circulating within your county and ask them to run the required legal notice in their publication for name change purposes. Supply them the order date, issuing court, and current and future name. Make sure they schedule the notice to run three times in the next 20 days. The publication will alert the court of your compliance once your advert has run the stipulated time-span.

You can publish your notice in a neighboring county’s newspaper if your county doesn’t have one. Surrounded by counties with no press to publish? Then turn to any St. Louis newspaper to fulfill this step. These are last resort options, not for use because you’re looking to keep your name change intentions private from the locals.

You’ll get your court-approved name change order soon after the advert runs its course. Take your order and hit the ground running by updating your social security card, driver’s license, and even birth certificate. Don’t forget other entities, such as banks and credit cards.

Child name changes

The state of Missouri allows name changes for children. But they don’t make it easy. Knowing where to begin and who begins is crucial. First, a minor can’t undertake a name change proceeding in court on their own. A “next friend” must file on their behalf. This could be their parent, legal guardian, or representative. From this point forward, we’ll assume you’re the child’s next friend advocating on their behalf.

You must first file the Petition for Appointment as Next Friend along with every other required document. Keep in mind, this form is only available after you’ve gone through the Litigant Awareness Program that explains the state’s court system.

Next, file the Petition for Change of Name by Parent with the county court where the minor lives. List the minor’s current name, new name being requested, reason for changing, residence, date and place of birth, and parents’ information. The facts presented must be sworn to before a court clerk or notary public. A clerk requires the minor’s identification documents, such as birth certificate.

Minors 14 years old or older must write a consent statement alongside the consent statements of every known parent included in the petition. Letters and consent forms must get notarized. The petition must be heard if either parent can’t be traced or they’ve refused consent. The court clerk will send registered or certified mail notice to such parent’s last known mailing address. It should arrive around a month before the hearing date.

Make sure you attend the scheduled court hearing, lest you risk a negative default ruling. The child’s name change will get approved if found to be legal and in their best interest. When the court doesn’t mandate a hearing, present a completed unsigned name change order to the court clerk in person or via mail.

Receiving a favorable judgment from the court isn’t the end. Next is publication. The minor’s name change notice must get published three times in a well-circulated newspaper in the child’s county of residence for three straight weeks.

Publication needn’t be nonstop. A single, one-day advert each week within a 21-day period will suffice. The court will suggest a paper if nothing local exists. The child’s name change is legal after the court receives proof of publication and a certified copy of the order is granted.

Name change on birth certificate

Contact the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records to change the name on your birth certificate or your child’s birth certificate. Make sure you have a legal name change order from the court and other ID documents such as a proof of U.S. citizenship in case they ask for such details.

You can’t change the name on your birth certificate through marriage or divorce. It’s only meant for court-petitioned adult or minor name changes. Divorce court doesn’t count as court-petitioned.

Update details with governmental agencies

Approach the Social Security Administration office to update the name on your social security card. Next, approach the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) to have your nondriver license or driver license name updated in person. Have your name change document with you, fee, and proof of your place and date of birth, social security number, and Missouri address.

Non-governmental institutions name change

Reach out to nongovernmental offices, such as insurance providers, banks and other fiscal institutions, employers, membership clubs, among others, to have your name amended as well. Don’t forget your professional documents and diplomas. You needn’t offer this group a certified copy of your name change document. A photocopy should be ample.

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2 Comments

  1. Francesca

    My marriage certificate has shows my maiden name. I'm not sure how to change it to my husband's. I don't remember them asking me when doing the application. Is this a problem?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Francesca. You're right not to remember the application asking for your married name, because it didn't exist. Only your current name and birth name would have been asked.

      Reply

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