West Virginia Name Change Law

Name Change – General – West 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 West Virginia, but does include basic and other provisions.

Name Change Action Allowed: In West Virginia, an adult may change their name by filing an action in the Circuit Court, or other court of record, in the county in which they reside 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 the requested name change will not result in injury to the interests of any person, that reasonable and proper cause for the change of name is present, and that there is no fraudulent or evil intent on the part of the Petitioner.  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.

Requirements for Name Change Order: For an order of name change to be granted, the court must find sufficient reasons for the change and also find it consistent with the public interest. A change of name upon marriage, dissolution, or divorce meets these requirements.

Is Publication of a Notice Required? Yes.Notice of the filing of the petition with a statement of the relief requested and the date of hearing must be published in the county in which the Petitioner resides as a Class I legal advertisement.

Who must be provided notice of the Petition? The general public by way of publication

Can individuals “object” to the Petition for Name Change? Yes.  Any reasonable objections made to the court may influence the court’s findings as to whether 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 West Virginia begins with the publicaiton of notice of the Petition in a local newspaper as a Class I legal advertisement.  The notice must state the Petitioner’s present name, the name the Petitioner wishes to take, and the time and place that the Petition will be presented to the Court.

Upon the filing of the Petition, the filing of proof of the publication of the required notice, the Court being convinced of the trust of the matters set forth in the Petition, and being satisfied that no injury will be done to any person by reason of such change, that reasonable and proper cause exists for changing the name of petitioner, and that such change is not desired because of any fraudulent or evil intent on the part of the petitioner, the Court or Judge may order a change of name as applied for except as provided by statute relative to those with a criminal record.

Additional Information and Instructions

Statutes:

Section 48-25-101. Petition to circuit court for change of name; contents thereof; notice of application:

(a) Any person desiring a change of his or her own name, or that of his or her child, may apply to the circuit court or family court of the county in which he or she resides by a verified petition setting forth and affirming the following:

(1) That he or she has been a bona fide resident of the county for at least one year prior to the filing of the petition or that he or she is a nonresident of the county who was born in the county, was married in the county and was previously a resident of the county for a period of at least fifteen years; (2) The cause for which the change of name is sought; (3) The new name desired; (4) The name change is not for purposes of avoiding debt or creditors; (5) The petitioner seeking the name change is not a registered sex offender pursuant to any state or federal law; (6) The name change sought is not for purposes of avoiding any state or federal law regarding identity; (7) The name change sought is not for any improper or illegal purpose; (8) The petitioner is not a convicted felon in any jurisdiction; and (9) The name change sought is not for any purpose of evading detection, identification or arrest by any local, state or federal law-enforcement agency.

(b) Prior to filing the petition, the person shall cause a notice of the time and place that the application will be made to be published as a Class I legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of article three, chapter fifty-nine of this code. The publication area for the publication is the county: Provided, That the publication shall contain a provision that the hearing may be rescheduled without further notice or publication.

Objections to change of name:
Any person who is likely to be injured by the change of name of any person so petitioning, or who knows of any reason why the name of any such petitioner should not be changed, may appear at the time and place named in the notice, and shall be heard in opposition to such change.  [West Virginia Code, Chapter 48, Article 25 Change of Name, §48-25-102.]

§ 48-25-103. When court may or may not order change of name.
(a) Upon the filing of the verified petition, and upon proof of the publication of the notice and of the matters set forth in the petition, and being satisfied that no injury will be done to any person by reason of the change, and upon a finding that all representations the applicant has affirmed pursuant to subsection (a), section one hundred one of this article are true and the applicant is not prohibited from obtaining a name change pursuant to this article, that reasonable and proper cause exists for changing the name of petitioner and that the change is not desired because of any fraudulent or evil intent on the part of the petitioner, the court or judge may order a change of name.
(b) The court may not grant any change of name for any person convicted of any felony during the time that the person is incarcerated.
(c) The court may not grant any change of name for any person required to register with the State Police pursuant to the provisions of article twelve, chapter fifteen of this code during the period that the person is required to register.
(d) The court may not grant a change of name for persons convicted of first degree murder in violation of section one, article two, chapter sixty-one of this code for a period of ten years after the person is discharged from imprisonment or is discharged from parole, whichever occurs later.
(e) The court may not grant a change of name of any person convicted of violating any provision of section fourteen-a, article two, chapter sixty-one of this code for a period of ten years after the person is discharged from imprisonment or is discharged from parole, whichever occurs later.

Recordation of order changing name:
When such order is made the petitioner shall forthwith cause a certified copy thereof to be filed in the office of the clerk of the county commission of the county where petitioner resides, and such clerk shall record the same in a book to be kept for the purpose and index the same under both the old and the new names. For such recording and indexing the clerk shall be allowed the same fee as for a deed. [West Virginia Code, Chapter 48, Article 25 Change of Name, §48-25-104.]

When new name to be used:
When such change has been ordered and a certified copy of the order filed in the office of the county clerk, the new name shall henceforth be used in place of the former name.  [West Virginia Code, Chapter 48, Article 25 Change of Name, §48-25-105.]

Unlawful change of name:
Any person residing in this state who shall change his name, or assume another name, unlawfully, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not exceeding one hundred dollars, and upon a repetition thereof shall be confined in jail not exceeding sixty days.  [West Virginia Code, Chapter 48, Article 25 Change of Name, §48-25-106.]

Unlawful change of name by certain felons and registrants.

(a) It is unlawful for any person convicted of first degree murder in violation of section one, article two, chapter sixty-one of this code, and for any person convicted of violating any provision of section fourteen-a, article two, chapter sixty-one of this code, for which a sentence of life imprisonment is imposed, to apply for a change of name for a period of ten years after the person is discharged from imprisonment or is discharged from parole, whichever occurs later.
(b) It is unlawful for any person required to register with the state police pursuant to the provisions of article twelve, chapter fifteen of this code to apply for a change of name during the period that the person is required to register.
(c) It is unlawful for any person convicted of a felony to apply for a change of name during the period that such person is incarcerated.
(d) A person who violates the provisions of subsection (a), (b) or (c) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than ten thousand dollars or imprisoned in the county or regional jail for not more than one year, or both fined and incarcerated. [West Virginia Code, Chapter 48, Article 25 Change of Name,§48-25-107.]

Other Name Change References:

Legal capacity; saving provisions: On and after June nine, one thousand nine hundred seventy-two, except as otherwise specifically provided in this code, no person who is eighteen years of age or older shall lack legal capacity, by reason of his age, to enter into contracts, sell or purchase real or personal property, create a lien, execute any legal or other written instrument, prosecute or defend legal actions, assert claims or deal in his own affairs in any manner whatsoever.

The provisions of this section, and the provisions of chapter sixty-one, acts of the Legislature, regular session, one thousand nine hundred seventy-two, reducing various prescribed age requirements to eighteen years of age, shall not, however, by operation of law affect any rights, duties, obligations or interests accruing or vesting by virtue of any statute, act, event, transaction, order, judgment or decree prior to June nine, one thousand nine hundred seventy-two, or any cause of action which arose or any civil action or claim instituted or  asserted prior to such date, and any such right, duty, obligation, interest, cause of action, civil action or claim may be enforced, exercised, enjoyed, terminated, discharged, consummated, prosecuted, maintained or asserted with like effect as if said chapter sixty-one had not been enacted:

Provided, hat any person who has attained the age of eighteen years shall have full power and authority to exercise any and all of the rights, privileges and powers granted to him in the first paragraph of this section with respect to any legal or equitable interest acquired by or which vested in such person before he became eighteen years of age:

Provided, however, That under no circumstances whatever shall any of the changes made by said chapter sixty-one have any effect upon any of the terms or provisions of or any conditions imposed by any last will and testament, trust agreement or any other written instrument of any kind or character executed prior to such date of June nine, one thousand nine hundred seventy-two:

Provided further, That any order or mandate providing for payment of child support for any person up to the age of twenty-one years contained in any decree or order of divorce or separate maintenance or in any order in any nonsupport or bastardy proceeding, which decree or order was entered prior to June nine, one thousand nine hundred seventy-two, may by order of the court be terminated as to such person upon such person attaining the age of eighteen years.

Moreover, the provisions of this section shall not affect any acts performed or transactions entered into by a person under the age of twenty-one years prior to June nine, one thousand nine hundred seventy-two. No change in the general age of legal capacity or in the definitions of the words “under disability,” “infant” or “minor” contained in section ten, article two of this chapter shall alter any statute of limitations as to causes of action arising before such date of June nine, one thousand nine hundred seventy-two.   [West Virginia Code, Chapter 2 Common Law, Statutes, Legal Holidays, Article 3, Legal Capacity, § 2-3-1.]


Inside West Virginia Name Change Law