If you are in Texas and seeking a legal name change, there are a number of things you need to keep in mind. It is important to know what the Lonestar State's name change laws allows. Here are a number of things you might want to know.
Marriage name change options
Your marriage certificate is the main legal document you need to change your name after getting married. Once your ceremony is over, file your marriage license pronto with the office that issued it. This results in a certified copy of your marriage certificate that will get mailed to you around 14 days later.
To save yourself time, you can use an online service providing name change forms that work in Texas and other states. This self-help tool works whether you are recently married or tied the knot many years ago.
Your marriage certificate is the right legal document to effect a name change. Alert the right government agencies afterward, as name change is not automatic. This includes the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV), the Social Security Administration (SSA), and non-governmental institutions, such as credit card companies and banks.
To apply for a marriage license in Texas, arrive in person at the county clerk's office with government-issued photo ID. Your license remains valid for 90 days once issued. And issuance comes 72 hours after applying, unless waived.
Couples who complete the Twogether in Texas course on premarital education will pay lower license fees and get the 72-hour waiting period set aside.
Military personnel who are active will have their waiting time eliminated by default, including Department of Defense employees and those who have received a judge's waiver.
Fees for a marriage license vary across Texas' 254 counties, but fall within $60 and $90. A Texas license is valid across the state, regardless of which county you apply in.
After getting married, your officiant must complete the license and return it to the county clerk for filing. You can then ask for certified copies of your marriage certificate from the county clerk to get your name legally changed across government agencies.
You can opt to take your spouse's last name using just your marriage certificate. This is the most common and traditional name change preference in Texas.
Maiden name usage
You may go with the surname of your spouse on official records and identifications, but continue using your maiden name in professional circles, such as the workplace.
It's also possible to request a name change by taking your spouse's last name and adding it into your own with a hyphen or simply add without a hyphen.
Continue using your name as it is
Another option in Texas is to just continue with your married life without seeking a name change.
Divorce name change
For a legal name change to be done in Texas after divorce you need to gather a number of documents, the most important being a certified copy of a Texas divorce decree as well as a proof of your age and identification.
After getting the divorce decree copy, read through to ascertain if there is a provision granting a name change. In case it is there, the document remains the best name change legal proof you need.
Sometimes the provision for a name change might be left out from the divorce decree and you should communicate with the court that finalized the divorce to request for an amendment of the document. Remember amendments can sometimes be denied by different courts in the state; you need to change tact and continue with a normal adult name change petition in Texas.
Together with the name change petition, you are also requested to provide fingerprints, a legible set of them on a fingerprint card approved by the state. The verification of the petition needs to be done, where you must swear and sign that the information provided on your forms is accurate before a notary.
Remember to have the order for name change prepared for the judge to sign. Apart from containing similar information as that in the petition, Texas requires the order to also clearly state the change of name is in public interest and beneficial to you. A hearing is then scheduled by the court. It's possible that the judge will request a repeat of the information you have provided in the petition prior to the signing of the order declaring your change of name.
Once the name change has been effected, ensure you have approached all the right government agencies to update your name, from the Social Security Office, IRS, to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Nonetheless, you might want to know that changing your name with the Social Security Office comes first. Once this has been approved, simply take the certificate you will receive to the Texas Department of Public Safety to have your driver's license name changed.
General adult legal name change
If you do not have a marriage certificate or divorce decree, it is still possible to effect a name change in Texas. This requires filing court-provided name change forms for an adult petition for change of name. File your petition in your county of residence. If you do not live in Texas, you cannot change your name in the state's court system.
Your name change must be for good cause and not for nefarious means, such as trying to avoid creditors, evade warrants, disparage others, or commit fraud. You can file to change your name and gender marker together. Gender marker changes require a separate filing, though.
You must pay the filing fee of $150 to $300; filing fees vary across the state. If you cannot afford court costs to change your name, you can request a fee waiver by filing a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs or an Appeal Bond.
It means you must prepare a Name Change Petition and Order for Texas without signing any document. Take these legal forms to be signed by a notary, who will have your identity verified and allow you to sign it before the he has signed the document again to verify that you signed the petition in his presence. Do not sign the petition at this time.
The next process requires you arrange with the local law enforcement for your fingerprints to be taken on either an approved FBI fingerprint card or DPS. After receiving the fingerprint card, the Order and Petition, make two copies of each. Take them to the local county courthouse to file with the county's court clerk in your local jurisdiction. Filing the paperwork comes at a cost and once you have paid it a name change case number is assigned.
A stamped copy of the petition will then be returned to you. Ensure you have the original copy of the court order to schedule your court hearing. You must know the court date assigned by the office of the clerk; to be on the safe side, call a few days before the hearing to know everything is as scheduled.
On the material court date, have the petition's copy the clerk gave you including the original order when attending the hearing. Expect the judge to ask a couple of questions; be as brief and honest as possible in your answers.
Once the legal change of name has been granted by the judge, the court order will be signed and you must file it with the court clerk's office. Request a name change certificate after you file the order with the clerk in the same manner used to submit the initial petition for the name change. For a small fee, the Texas Name Change Order certified copy, dully signed, can be provided.
Although you may seek assistance from a licensed attorney to help process your name change, it is not required.
Child's name change
Within the Texas Family Code are all the regulations needed to effect a name change of a child within the state. The name change can be requested due to custody proceedings, adoptions, among others, by managing conservators, legal guardians or parents. It's important for parents to file the name change petition within the county court where the minor lives.
The first thing is requesting the petition for the name change of a child, including the order to change the name of a child and consent to change the name of a child. All these are found at the local county's district court and can also be downloaded online.
The petition has to be filled with the signature of the guardians and parents of the child, has to show how they relate to the minor, child's legal status, case numbers to previous judgments relating to the minor, name change details, the reason for the name change, and the vital statistics of the child.
In case the minor is a registered sex offender, the Sex Offender Update form needs to be filled out and a copy attached to the petition. The petition should then be signed before a notary public who also signs on the form before officially stamping it.
The reason for the Consent to Change the Name of the minor has to be explained clearly to the child if above ten years of age, who then must add his/her current name and the name proposed before the signing of the form.
The document should be taken to the office of the district court clerk for filing. You will be updated about an assigned court date, including a corresponding case number. Appear at the court as scheduled. If the judge is convinced the change of name is in the child's best interest, it will be approved. The name change order will then be completed by the court.
Request the court clerk issue a certified copy of the name change order to use to change the child's name on their social security card and birth certificate.
Change of name on birth certificate
Birth certificate amendments are done by the Department of State Health Services in Texas with each application clearly reviewed by a professional if the name change can be done. In case the birth took place in the last 180 days, you should expect the name change to be effected within 20 to 30 days.
Amendments cost $15 with an additional $5 if you want expedited service. Estimated normal processing time for the birth certificate amendment takes 20 to 25 business days.
Name change with social security and DMV
After changing your name, you must notify the various relevant government bodies. In case of any name change, notify the Social Security Administration, whether you are newlyweds, lately divorced, or simply changed your name legally through court petition.
Even those who have reverted to their prior names need to let the Social Security Administration know. File the Application for a Social Security Card Form SS-5 by mail or at a social security office in your locality and include the legal proof of the name change.
Once you have changed the name with the Social Security Administration only then can you request a name change with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Thirty days after the name change, visit the office of Texas Department of Public Safety with your current ID card or driver's license, including the proof of name change. The license "replacement" fee is $11.
Name change with non-governmental institutions
Once you have legal proof of name change, you can change your name with just about anyone, including non-governmental institutions, such as financial institutions, insurance providers, employers, and other professional documents, such as your passport, credit cards, and voter registration.
Congratulations! You are now well-equipped to change your name in Texas. While transitioning to a new name may seem complicated at first, following the required steps we have outlined should make it a cinch to carry out.
There are many different tracks to take when changing your name, so make certain you choose the path that suits your needs and circumstances best.
Good luck to you as you proceed on the grand journey of changing your name. Stay strong and brave, because after this experience, you will experience a clean slate with your new identity.