North Carolina Name Change Law

Name Change – General – North Carolina

Note:  This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law applicable to an action for change of name in the State of North Carolina, but does include basic and other provisions.

Name Change Action Allowed: In North Carolina, an adult may change their name by filing an action in the Superior Court with appropriate forms.

Who is an adult? A person who has attained the age of 18 years is considered an adult.

Who is a minor? A person who has not attained the age of 18 years is considered a minor.

Is there any reason why a person might not be allowed to change his or her name? Yes.  The clerk must find that good and sufficient reason exists for the change of name and that the requested name change is consistent with the public interest.  A person is not allowed to change their name in order to avoid judgments or legal actions against him or her, or to avoid debts and obligations.  A person can not change their name to defraud any person.

Must the child agree to the name change? No, but the court may consider the wishes of a child old enough to express their wishes in considering whether to grant the Petition.

Must the parent(s) of the minor agree to the name change? Yes, in that one parent may not make such application on behalf of a minor child without the consent of the other parent of such minor child if both parents be living, except that a minor who has reached the age of 16 years, upon proper application to the clerk may change his or her name, with the consent of the parent who has custody of the minor and has supported the minor, without the necessity of obtaining the consent of the other parent, when the clerk of court is satisfied that the other parent has abandoned the minor.

Requirements for Name Change Order: For an order of name change to be granted, the clerk must find (1) compliance with the requirements of notice and the requirements for the allegations in the petition; (2) good and sufficient reasons for the change; and, (3) that it is consistent with the public interest. A change of name upon marriage, dissolution, or divorce meets these requirements.

Is Publication of a Notice Required? No.

Who must be provided notice of the Petition? The General Public by way of a posting of the petition at the courthouse door.  This is generally a bulletin board near the main entrance of the courthouse.

Can individuals “object” to the Petition for Name Change? Yes.  Any reasonable objections made to the court may influence the clerk’s findings as to whether the stated reasons for the name change are “good and sufficient” and that the change of name is consistent with the public interest.

Procedures: The process for obtaining a name change for an adult in the State of North Carolina begins with the posting of a Petition for Name Change at the door of the Superior Court in the jurisdiction in which Petitioner resides.  The Petition is posted, generally on a bulletin used for that purpose near the main entrance to the courthouse, for 10 days in order to give the public notice by publication of the requested name change.  There after, the Petition is filed with the Clerk of the Court.

The Petition must be accompanied by two (2) affidavits of good character made by two (2) citizens of the county in which the Petitioner resides.

The Petition informs the Court of Petitioner’s true name, county of birth, date of birth, the full name of Petitioner’s parents as shown on birth certificate, the name he desires to adopt, his reasons for desiring such change, and whether his name has ever before been changed by law, and, if so, the facts with respect thereto.

After the Petition is posted and filed, if the clerk thinks that good and sufficient reason exists for the change of name, it shall be his duty to issue an order changing the name of the applicant from his true name to the name sought to be adopted.

Additional Information and Instructions

Statutes:

[Private Law Name Changes Prohibited]
Legislature may regulate change by general but not private law. The General Assembly shall not have power to pass any private law to alter the name of any person, but shall have power to pass general laws regulating the same. [N.C.Gen.Stats, Chapter 101. Names of Persons, § 101-1.]

Procedure for changing name; petition; notice.
A person who wishes, for good cause shown, to change his or her name must file an application before the clerk of the superior court of the county in which the person lives, after giving 10 days’ notice of the application by publication at the courthouse door.

An application to change the name of a minor child may be filed by the child’s parent or parents, guardian, or guardian ad litem, and this application may be joined in the application for a change of name filed by the parent or parents. Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit one parent to make an application on behalf of a minor child without the consent of the other parent if both parents are living; except that a minor who has reached the age of 16 years, upon proper application to the clerk, may change his or her name with the consent of the parent who has custody of the minor and has supported the minor, without the necessity of obtaining the consent of the other parent, when the clerk of court is satisfied that the other parent has abandoned the minor. A change of parentage or the addition of information relating to parentage on the birth certificate of any person is governed by G.S. 130A-118.

The consent of a parent who has abandoned a minor child is not required if a copy of an order of a court of competent jurisdiction adjudicating that parent’s abandonment of the minor if filed with the clerk. If a court of competent jurisdiction has not declared the minor to be an abandoned child, the clerk, on 10 days’ written notice by registered or certified mail, directed to the last known address of the parent alleged to have abandoned the child, may determine whether the parent has abandoned the child. If the parent denies that the parent abandoned the child, this issue of fact shall be transferred and determined as provided in G.S. 1-301.2. If abandonment is determined, the consent of the parent is not required. Upon final determination of this issue of fact the proceeding shall be transferred back to the special proceedings docket for further action by the clerk. [N.C.Gen.Stats, Chapter 101. Names of Persons, § 101-2.]

Contents of petition:
The applicant shall state in the application his true name, county of birth, date of birth, the full name of parents as shown on birth certificate, the name he desires to adopt, his reasons for desiring such change, and whether his name has ever before been changed by law, and, if so, the facts with respect thereto. [N.C.Gen.Stats, Chapter 101. Names of Persons, § 101-3.]

Proof of good character to accompany petition:
The applicant shall also file with said petition proof of his good character, which proof must be made by at least two citizens of the county who know his standing: Provided, however, proof of good character shall not be required when the application is for the change of name of a child under 16 years of age. [N.C.Gen.Stats, Chapter 101. Names of Persons, § 101-4.]

Clerk to order change; certificate and record:
If the clerk thinks that good and sufficient reason exists for the change of name, it shall be his duty to issue an order changing the name of the applicant from his true name to the name sought to be adopted. Such order shall contain the true name, the county of birth, the date of birth, the full name of parents as shown on birth certificate, and the name sought to be adopted. He shall issue to the applicant a certificate under his hand and seal of office, stating the change made in the applicant’s name, and shall also record said application and order on the docket of special proceedings in his court. He shall forward the order to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics on a form provided by him. If the applicant was born in North Carolina, the State Registrar shall note the change of name of the individual or individuals specified in the order on the birth certificate of that individual or those individuals and shall notify the register of deeds in the county of birth. If the applicant was born in another state of the United States, the State Registrar shall forward the notice of change of name to the registration office of the state of birth. [N.C.Gen.Stats, Chapter 101. Names of Persons, § 101-5.]

Effect of change; only one change, except as provided:

(a) When the order is made and the applicant’s name changed, he is entitled to all the privileges and protection under his new name as he would have been under the old name. No person shall be allowed to change his name under this Chapter but once, except that he shall be permitted to resume his former name upon compliance with the requirements and procedure set forth in this Chapter for change of name, and except as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) For good cause shown, and upon compliance with the requirements and procedure set forth in this Chapter for change of name, the name of a minor child may be changed not more than two times under this Chapter. [N.C.Gen.Stats, Chapter 101. Names of Persons, § 101-6.]

Recording name change:
When the name of any individual, corporation, partnership, or association has been changed in a manner provided by law, any attorney licensed to practice law in this State may file an affidavit with the clerk of superior court stating facts concerning the change of name. The clerk shall cause the affidavit to be filed and indexed among the records of his office, pursuant to G.S. 7A-180(3) and G.S. 7A-343(3). The clerk shall also forward a copy of the affidavit under the seal of his office to the clerk of superior court of any other county named in the affidavit where it shall also be filed and indexed in accordance with this section. Affidavits filed and indexed under this section are for informational purposes only and neither the affidavit nor the manner of its filing and indexing shall in any manner affect the rights or liabilities of any person. [N.C.Gen.Stats, Chapter 101. Names of Persons, § 101-7.]

Resumption of name by widow or widower:
A person at any time after the person is widowed may, upon application to the clerk of court of the county in which the person resides setting forth the person’s intention to do so, resume the use of her maiden name or the name of a prior deceased husband or of a previously divorced husband in the case of a widow, or his premarriage surname in the case of a widower. The application shall set forth the full name of the last spouse of the applicant, shall include a copy of the spouse’s death certificate, and shall be signed by the applicant in the applicant’s full name. The clerks of court of the several counties of this State shall record and index such applications in the manner required by the Administrative Office of the Courts. [N.C.Gen.Stats, Chapter 101. Names of Persons, § 101-8.]

Other Name Change References

Age of minors:
A minor is any person who has not reached the age of 18 years. [N.C.Gen.Stats, Chapter 48A. Minors, § 48A-2.]

Resumption of maiden or premarriage surname:

(a) Any woman whose marriage is dissolved by a decree of absolute divorce may, upon application to the clerk of court of the county in which she resides setting forth her intention to do so, change her name to any of the following:

(1) Her maiden name; or

(2) The surname of a prior deceased husband; or

(3) The surname of a prior living husband if she has children who have that husband’s surname.

(a1) A man whose marriage is dissolved by decree of absolute divorce may, upon application to the clerk of court of the county in which he resides setting forth his intention to do so, change the surname he took upon marriage to his premarriage surname.

(b) The application shall be addressed to the clerk of the court of the county in which such divorced person resides, and shall set forth the full name of the former spouse of the applicant, the name of the county and state in which the divorce was granted, and the term or session of court at which such divorce was granted, and shall be signed by the of court of the several counties of the State shall record and index such applications in such manner as shall be required by the Administrative Office of the Courts.

(c) If an applicant, since the divorce, has adopted one of the surnames listed in subsection (a) or (a1) of this section, the applicant’s use and adoption of that name is validated.

(d) In the complaint, or counterclaim for divorce filed by any person in this State, the person may petition the court to adopt any surname as provided by this section, and the court is authorized to incorporate in the divorce decree an order authorizing the person to adopt that surname. [N.C.Gen.Stats, Chapter 50. Divorce and Alimony, Article 1. Divorce, Alimony, and Child Support, Generally, § 50-12.]


Inside North Carolina Name Change Law