Each year, many people change their names in California. Name changes are quite simple and do not need the services of an attorney but the process is somewhat complex. With this in mind, filing a California name change is fairly simple and inexpensive if you use a legal document assistant with experience in name change proceedings. It should be noted that you need a court order to change your name in California or to change the name of a minor. Filing a formal change name proceeding will allow you to legally change your name in California for all government issued documents such as your driver’s license, social security card, and passport. Read on to learn more about how to change your name in California.

How to Change Your Name in California if You are an Adult

Filing a name change proceeding is a multi-step process. First, several documents are required to be completed. Once the documents are completed, they must be filed with the proper local court that has jurisdiction to change an adult’s name in California. Notice of the name change request must be published. Lastly, a hearing is held where the court will approve or deny the request for name change.

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Documents Required in California Name Change

The following documents are required when filing a request for name change:

  1. Petition for a Change of Name (Form NC 100)
  2. Order to Show Cause for Name Change (Form NC – 120)
  3. Civil Case Cover Sheet (CM – 010)
  4. Decree Changing Name (Form NC – 130)

In the Petition, you will need to explain to the court why you are requesting the name change. Once all required documents have been completed, if you are not using a legal document assistant to help you, we suggest that you have your documents reviewed at your local court’s self-help center or by an attorney. Unfortunately, however, the local court’s self-help center will only review your documents for completion, not for accuracy. At A People’s Choice, we can help you and take all the guesswork out of your hands by preparing all the necessary legal documents for your name change in California.

If you are trying to process the name change without professional help, you will need to make copies of the forms before they are filed. One of the copies will be used for the newspaper publication process. The documents must be filed with the court clerk. They will also require the payment of the court filing fee. The court clerk will set a hearing date and time for the Order to Show Cause (OSC). The OSC must then be published in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for 4 weeks in a row before your name change hearing date. Proof of completion of the publication must be filed with the court before the hearing takes place.

It is always recommended to take a copy of the proof of newspaper publication with you to your hearing as sometimes it does not make it into the court file. In addition, you will need to take the Decree Changing Name to court for the judge to sign. Once you get the judge’s approval, you can then pay for and get a certified copy of the signed decree. You can use this certified Order to present to the proper agencies to change your name on legal documents such as your birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, and/or social security card.

How to Change Your Name in California if You are a Minor

The documents below must be completed and filed with the local court clerk to change a minor’s name in California:

  1. Petition for a Change of Name (Form NC 100)
  2. Order to Show Cause for Name Change (Form NC – 120)
  3. Civil Case Cover Sheet (CM – 010)
  4. Decree Changing Name (Form NC – 130)

The process to change the name of a minor is similar to a name change for an adult, but there are some differences. The biggest difference is that when changing the name of a minor, any parent that is not a petitioner must be personally served notification of the proposed name change. As with an adult name change, notice of the Petition must be published in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for four weeks before the hearing date. Most newspapers will file the Proof of Publication at the end of the publication period but it is always recommended to take a copy to the hearing.

In addition to taking a copy of the filed proof of newspaper publication to your court hearing, you should also take the Decree Changing Name for the judge to sign. If the court approves the name change request, you can then get a certified copy of the decree. This certified order is the document required to change a child’s name on his/her birth certificate, social security card, passport, or state issued identification.

If a non-petitioning parent disagrees to the name change, they can file an objection to the request. It will be up to the court to rule on whether there is sufficient grounds to change the child’s name.  Both parents will have a chance to present their case at the hearing. The judge will decide the case based in what they believe to be in the child’s best interest.

Contact A People’s Choice for more information on how to change your name in California.

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