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Marchofthefox's avatar

Where do I go to change my name?

Asked by Marchofthefox (787points) November 9th, 2010

I wanted to change my last name to my Mother’s maiden name.
Where do I go to change my last name (and possibly my first name) and how long do you think the process would take?
Is this a bad idea?

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16 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Only you can decide if it is a bad idea. It depends on the jurisdiction you live in how long it will take. I believe you will have to petition the court. Your best bet is to talk to a family law attorney.

BarnacleBill's avatar

You need to be 18, and you go to an attorney and go to court to do it. It’s not hard. The whole thing should cost between $300 – $500 in attorney and court costs. You will need to have your identification documents reissued with the new name on it.

YARNLADY's avatar

You do not have to go anywhere. You can use any name you want to as long as it is not for the purpose of fraud. My son started using his chosen name at the age of 13 and it is perfectly legal.

JLeslie's avatar

I went to the local court house to pick up forms to file with the court. They cost about $10 if I remember correctly. It gives you all of the instructions and then I think there is a fee to file, and a judge makes the final official judgement. You shouldn’t need a lawyer if you have a clean record.

I called first. I looked in the government pages in the phonebook and called the courthouse and they helped me get the right information.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, it takes a couple of months if everything goes smoothly, although it probably depends where you live and how much of a workload the courts have.

YARNLADY's avatar

In California, you can use any name you want, any time you want and no paperwork or court is required.

Randy's avatar

I changed mine when I was 18 to my (step)dad’s last name. He’s been my dad since before I can remember so it just seemed right. All I had to do was write a letter to the judge explaining my reasoning. Then, after he approved, I had to get it stamped with the court seal and filed with the court. Easy as that. It only took a few days and cost me $100 flat. To start, head to the local county court house and ask around. All the information you need for your area should be found there.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY But can you use any name on the deed to your house?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I don’t believe you can use the name “Boom Boom” on your house deed or social security card.

California still hasn’t slipped into the Pacific. The house has a connection to the SS# for tax purposes.

BarnacleBill's avatar

California Name Change Forms

You may be able to use an alias, but in order to be able to prove your identity, you have to have documentation. especially under the Patriot Act.

Taciturnu's avatar

You have to legally change your name anytime a social security number is needed. My sister got away without that for a while, until she applied for her passport. She was very upset it didn’t match much of her other information, and I personally know the RMV/DMV crosschecks your name with SS.

Like @Randy said, you need to start in the local court. In MA, if you go to Family and Probate of your local courthouse, they will give you an application to fill out and you will give them an application fee. You have XX amount of time to print the fact that you are changing your name in the paper (an added expense) then you have a court date. If no one shows up in protest, your name is legally changed that day. If you are underage, you need permission from both parents.

There are other ways of changing it legally, such as getting married or being adopted, where you have a traditional choice (significant other’s last name) or can choose your own (mother’s maiden name). Not that you should get married on the basis of a name change!

sliceswiththings's avatar

I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all. It’s really a shame that so many maiden names get lost, and a mother generally doesn’t get to pass along her name. Go for it!

I had my last name changed (simply removing a hyphen and thus creating a new middle name and a last name) when I was 12, and it cost $60. It entailed my parents going to our county courthouse, and it was all done in a quick visit. It may have been cheaper because I was a minor.

Then I had to get a new social security card. I’m not sure if that was an extra expense. For things like applying for a new passport later in life, you’ll need to include copies of the name change form, so don’t lose it!

Good luck.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Tropical_Willie You are apparently talking about a mortgage. The deed is an entirely different document. A deed can be registered in any name the owner wants to use, and there is no social security number required.

Joybird's avatar

You don’t have to pay anything more than the court fees. The forms are online and you can submit them yourself. You will need to go before the judge and explain again in person why you want the name change and they will ask you some questions in order to determine that you are not changing your name in order to attempt to avoid some legal action or to engage in illegal activity of one kind or another. You don’t need a lawyer for any of this…just common sense.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@YARNLADY The IRS and Homeland security with the Patriot Act is looking at the property documents. If you put down “Donnie Duck” on the deed and has no connection to SS#, you can assume there will be someone looking into it.


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