There are many reasons for changing your last name. The most common name-change occurs when a woman marries. However, name changes also occur with adoptions, divorce, and for more intimate reasons such as no longer wanting to carry the name of an absentee parent. Personal protection could be a reason for a name change when domestic violence has been an issue, and the reputation a name carries may be an issue when you are related to a well-known criminal. Mothers often want their children to take the stepfather's last name. Whatever your reason, the process for a free and legal name change is quite simple.
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Visit your local family court's website to obtain the proper forms for a name change. If you are unsure of your court's website address, this can be found by following the appropriate links at the National Center for State Courts website. In most states, the form you will be seeking will be a Petition for Name Change, however, the title can vary upon location. If you are unable to access the correct form online, ask the clerk at your local court to mail a petition to you or ask if you can pick it up.
Prepare the petition accurately and honestly. Most name-changes are granted, so it is not necessary to go "over the top" with reasons. As long as no other relevant party disagrees (i.e.; a minor child's biological parent) and your reasons are legitimate, the Judge is likely to grant your request. However, also be aware that some states require a background check to be sure that there are no outstanding warrants or reasons you may be seeking to escape your real identity.
Request name-change forms for all creditors, utilities, relevant businesses, employers and government entities that are using your previous last name. Once a judge has officially granted your request, you will need many copies of the court order to send along with your name-change forms. Most importantly, your driver's license and social security card will need to be updated as soon as possible.
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