By: Alexandra Willen, Associate Attorney
Many people in their adult lives go by nicknames, their middle names, or spell their name differently than the name that appears on their birth certificate. This can cause confusion, and various issues related to your nickname being on an official document, or other problems in which you have conflicting information out there in the world.
Additionally, if you get married and want to change more than just your last name, you will need to legally change your name. If any of the above describes you, you may be wondering what steps you can take to legally change your name to the name that you go by.
First, you will need to make sure that you do not have a felony conviction on your record. The Court cannot change your name if you have been convicted of a felony unless you can show that you have been (1) pardoned, (2) it has been at least two years since you were discharged from prison or since you have completed probation, or (3) you are changing your name to the name shown in your criminal history. Similarly, you cannot change your name if you are a registered sex offender.
If you have a clean record, you will need to begin the name change process by contacting an attorney who can file the necessary petition with the court to begin your case. This petition will need to be filed in the county in which you reside, so it is often best to find a local attorney who is familiar with the courts in your area.
After your petition has been filed, you will need to be fingerprinted for a background check. You will obtain a fingerprint card and return that to your attorney. Your attorney’s office will send that card, and all other necessary documentation to the Texas Department of Public Safety who will complete a background check for a small fee, and then submit their findings to the Court.
If your background check is clear, you may then file a proposed Order with the Court for your name change. Once that has been done, you and your attorney will go to the courthouse for what is called a prove up. Your attorney will ask you questions in front of the Judge related to your residency, what your current name is, why you want a name change, your criminal history, and other related questions. After the questioning is completed, the Judge can grant your name change if all documentation is in order.
Once you have a signed and certified Order granting you name change, you can use that order to obtain a new social security card, passport, driver’s license, and any other identification or documentation.
The name change process is relatively straight forward, and with the help of an experienced attorney, it can be a smooth and easy process from start to finish. The fees associated with a name change are often minimal but can make your entire life more streamlined.
If you have additional questions regarding a name change as an adult, please reach out to The Law Offices of Amber Shemesh and we would be happy to discuss with you.