In California, there are two methods a person can use to change their name. First, adults may informally change their name by simply using a different name (usage method) for an extended period of time. In fact, some adults have actually used a different name for most of their life without running into any difficulties!
Additionally, sometimes parents may change a young child’s name by registering it on school records. In such cases, the child can use the “new” name until they run into legal issues. For instance, if they are in need of legal documents as an adult, they will need to use their given name.
To avoid legal problems in the future, individuals may change their name by requesting a legal name change from the court. Get started today by clicking the button below!
How To Legally Name Change in California
The process to change your name in California is fairly procedural and can be summarized in four simple steps:
- Prepare and file the petition
- Give notice of the name change proceedings
- Obtain a certified copy of the court order of name change
- Change your legal records
File the Petition
Anyone looking to legally change their name through the California courts must file a name change petition. They should file this petition to the court that has jurisdiction in their location of residence.
The documentation required to file a petition for name change in California includes several different forms established by the California Judicial Council. These are standardized forms; however, some counties will require supplemental forms in certain cases.
The standardized judicial council forms, depending on your particular name change situation, may include:
- Civil cover sheet;
- Petition for change of name;
- Informational attachment;
- Order to show cause;
- Proof of service (used in name change proceedings for children);
- Decree/order changing name;
- Request to waive court fees; and order on court fee waiver
Several California counties also require an extra form to investigate criminal histories. Additionally, some counties require special forms if someone is representing themselves without a lawyer. When filing a name change proceeding in California, you should always check with your local court to ensure they don’t require special local forms. Also, be aware that both the judicial council and local forms are updated occasionally, and courts will reject documents if they are not current.
After signing, the petitioner must submit the documents to the Superior Court for processing. Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1276, petitioners must file documents in the Superior Court of the relevant county.
At the time of submission of documents, the petitioner must pay a court filing fee. However, they may request a fee waiver if they qualify.
Upon receiving the documentation, the court will assign a case number to the petition and schedule a hearing date. The hearing date is usually scheduled approximately 6-12 weeks out. At times, petitioners may request a specific date for the hearing.
When it comes to legal forms, A People’s Choice will help you prepare all required, up-to-date documentation to file a petition for change of name. Additionally, we file all documentation with the proper court and schedule the hearing.
Notice and Publication
California Code of Civil Procedure 1276 requires that notice of all name change petitions be published in a legal newspaper.
Every court has a list of approved legal newspapers for their county; not every newspaper is qualified for legal publications. Therefore, be sure to obtain a list of approved newspapers from the court before selecting one to handle the publication.
There is no standardized fee for the publication process. Usually, fees could vary as much as $200 between papers. Thus, it’s worth checking out the prices of various qualified newspapers prior to publication.
Once selected, the newspaper will publish notice of the name change petition once a week for four consecutive weeks. Then, upon completion of the process, the newspaper will give you documentation verifying proof of publication. Keep in mind that some newspapers file this proof of publication with the court and some do not.
A People’s Choice will arrange for the mandatory name change publication with the most cost-effective, qualified newspaper. Plus, we will ensure that the proof of publication is properly filed with the court prior to the scheduled hearing.
Filing a Name Change for a Child
In the case of changing a child’s name, both parents must be aware of the proceedings. If only one parent is petitioning for the name change, they must provide the non-consenting parent with notice of the request.
You can find further instructions for service of this notice in California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1277(a).
If the non-consenting parent resides in California, they must be personally served a copy of the notice. Anyone over the age of 18 can serve; otherwise, a parent can hire a legal process server. However, if the parent resides outside California, one parent can serve the other by mail.
If you are seeking the name change of a minor child with the other parent’s consent, A People’s Choice will help you comply with the notice requirements and ensure that the proof of service is filed with the court.
Obtain Your Court Order
Upon conclusion of the process, the court will issue a formal decree changing name. Presentation of this decree will allow government agencies, schools, and private organizations to formally change names on applicable records.
Although the judge decides whether to grant a decree changing name, these types of petitions are rarely denied.
Name Change on Legal Records
Once the judge has signed the decree changing name, the petitioner should immediately go to the court clerk’s office to obtain several certified copies of the court order. Governmental agencies including the Social Security Office, Department of Motor Vehicles, and Passport Office will require these copies upon request of changes to legal records.
A People’s Choice can provide information to easily guide you through this process and successfully change these important records.