Name Change – General – Virginia
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 Virginia, but does include basic and other provisions.
Name Change Action Allowed: In Virginia, an adult may change their name by filing an action in the Circuit 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 court must find that (1) good cause exists for the change of name under the circumstances alleged; (2) that the change of name is not sought for a fraudulent purpose; or, (3) would otherwise infringe upon the rights of others. 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? The parents, and legal guardian, if any, are entitled to reasonable notice of the request for name change and will have an opportunity to file any objection they might have to the change of name. If a parent or guardian files a written objection to the name change, the Court will hold a hearing to determine whether the change of name is in the best interests of the child.
Requirements for Name Change Order: For an order of name change to be granted, the court must find (1) good cause exists for the change of name under the circumstances alleged; (2) that the change of name is not sought for a fraudulent purpose; or, (3) would otherwise infringe upon the rights of others. 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 parents, and legal guardian, if any, are entitled to reasonable notice of the request for name change.
Can individuals “object” to my Petition for Name Change? Yes. Any reasonable objections made to the court may influence the court’s findings as to whether there exists good cause for the change of name, that a fraudulent purpose is absent, and that the change of name will not infringe on the rights of another.
Procedures: The process for obtaining a name change for an adult in the State of Virginia begins with the filing of the Petition in the Circuit Court in the county or city in which the Petitioner resides.
The Petition will be assigned a case number and this is the number that has to appear on all future documents in the action. After the Petition is reviewed, the Court will notify the Petitioner whether or not the Petition has been granted and the Order signed.
Additional Information and Instructions:
§ 8.01-217. How name of person may be changed.
A. Any person desiring to change his own name, or that of his child or ward, may apply therefor to the circuit court of the county or city in which the person whose name is to be changed resides, or if no place of abode exists, such person may apply to any circuit court which shall consider such application if it finds that good cause exists therefor under the circumstances alleged. An incarcerated person may apply to the circuit court of the county or city in which such person is incarcerated. In case of a minor who has no living parent or guardian, the application may be made by his next friend. In case of a minor who has both parents living, the parent who does not join in the application shall be served with reasonable notice of the application pursuant to § 8.01-296 and, should such parent object to the change of name, a hearing shall be held to determine whether the change of name is in the best interest of the minor. It shall not be necessary to effect service upon any parent who files an answer to the application. If, after application is made on behalf of a minor and an ex parte hearing is held thereon, the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that such notice would present a serious threat to the health and safety of the applicant, the court may waive such notice.
B. Every application shall be under oath and shall include the place of residence of the applicant, the names of both parents, including the maiden name of his mother, the date and place of birth of the applicant, the applicant’s felony conviction record, if any, whether the applicant is presently incarcerated or a probationer with any court, and if the applicant has previously changed his name, his former name or names.
C. On any such application and hearing, if such be demanded, the court, shall, unless the evidence shows that the change of name is sought for a fraudulent purpose or would otherwise infringe upon the rights of others or, in a case involving a minor, that the change of name is not in the best interest of the minor, order a change of name. The order shall contain no identifying information other than the applicant’s former name or names, new name, and current address. The clerk of the court shall spread the order upon the current deed book in his office, index it in both the old and new names, and transmit a certified copy of the order and the application to the State Registrar of Vital Records and the Central Criminal Records Exchange. Transmittal of a copy of the order and the application to the State Registrar of Vital Records and the Central Criminal Records Exchange shall not be required of a person who changed his or her former name by reason of marriage and who makes application to resume a former name pursuant to § 20-121.4.
Other Name Change References:
Age of majority:
(a) Unless a different meaning appears from the context:
(1) The words “infant,” “child,” “minor,” “juvenile” or any combination thereof shall be construed to mean a person under eighteen years of age.
(2) When used to mean or include disability because of age, the term “person under disability” shall be construed to mean or include a person under eighteen years of age.
(3) The word “adult” shall be construed to mean a person eighteen years of age or over.
(4) The word “infancy” shall be construed to mean the state of being under eighteen years of age.
(b) For the purposes of all laws of the Commonwealth including common law, case law and statutory law, unless an exception is specifically provided in this Code, a person shall be an adult, shall be of full age and shall reach the age of majority when he becomes eighteen years of age. [Code of Virginia, Title 1 General Provisions, Chapter 2 Common Law, Statutes and Rules of Construction, § 1-13.42.]
Related Virginia Legal Forms