Name Changes Laws by State

The most common instances where a person wants to change his/her name are during marriage or adoption.  People also change their name to disassociate from something negative or infamous, or may simply wish to give themselves a name that is more useable.  Obtaining a legal name change varies depending on the residence of the applicants.  The process of name change is generally less cumbersome.  In the United States, a legal name change can be obtained through a court order and any US citizen has the right to change his/her name through either common law or court procedure.  A person may change his/her name at will and operate a business, write a book, or even sue someone under a different name.  However, if a person change the name with a fraudulent intent to deceive people, legal action will be taken.

Every adult U.S. citizen has a constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment to change his/her name at will.  As long as a person consistently uses the new name on all personal and business documents, the new name must be legally recognized by authorities.  A person can change his/her name by filing of an application in civil court along with a nominal fee.  The applicant should provide a valid and reasonable explanation for desiring a legal name change.  The court can reject the application if it appears that the applicant has intent to perpetrate fraud by concealing his/her identity.  For instance, it is illegal for a person to change his/her name to that of a celebrity, with the intent to impersonate that celebrity.  Many institutions such as banks and insurance companies require a court order to change a customer’s name in their records.

Every state has a different procedure for obtaining a name change court order.  While some states simply require acknowledgment that a person’s name is not being changed for purposes of fraud or other crimes, some other states refuse to issue a court order if a person’s new name appears to be unreasonably vulgar or frivolous.


Inside Name Changes Laws by State