Why do People Change Their Legal Name?
In California, any adult is free to legally change all or part of their legal name. A minor can also take advantage of this process with parental approval. These are some common reasons that people apply for a change:
- You prefer to be called by a given name other than the one on your birth certificate
- Upon marriage, you wish to update your last name to match your spouse’s
- You and your spouse want to create a new last name other than your original last names
- You’ve had a gender modification and want to change your first name to match your gender identity
- You’re getting divorced, and you want to get your previous last name back
- You want to distance yourself from past traumatic experiences
No matter the reason, you can legally have your name changed by filing the appropriate forms with the court.
Steps for a Name Change in California
The process you use to change your name in California will depend on different factors. Is the name change due to a marriage? Are you divorcing and want to go back to your maiden name? Alternatively, are you changing your name only because you do not like your legal name? Going back to a maiden name after divorce is straightforward. However, the steps for a name change for other reasons require a bit more work.
Step One: The first step to changing your legal name is to prepare the necessary documents. This includes preparing a Petition for Name Change (Form NC-100), Order to Show Cause (Form NC-120) and Decree (NC-130). Remember, there may be other local forms your court requires. As part of the paperwork, the court will want to know the reason you are requesting the change. Nowadays, a desire for a new name may be due to a change of gender. Keep in mind, if you are changing your name for reasons of gender identity, the form is NC-125, but otherwise, it is NC-120.
Step Two: Make copies of the completed forms and file them with the Court.
Step Three: Confirm Hearing Date. After you file your request with the court, the Court Clerk will set the court hearing.
Step Four: Publish notice of name change request. At that point, you will need to send a copy of the hearing notice to a public newspaper approved by the court in your county and ask it to publish the notice every week for four weeks. The newspaper will need to complete the publication process before your hearing and file proof of completion with the court.
Step Five: Attend your hearing. When you attend your hearing, take a completed Decree (NC-130). If the court approves your request, the judge will sign the decree, and your new legal name will be official.
Step Six: Change all your legal documents to reflect your new name.
When considering the process of changing your name in California, keep in mind that no steps for a name change require you to hire a lawyer. The whole process, from beginning to end, takes only about three months. Remember, once you legally change your name, you will also need to revise all of your legal documents to reflect your new name. For example, you will need to update your passport, driver’s license, Social Security card, bank accounts, and any other agency or account holder with which you may do business.
Hiring a Professional for Document Preparation
In conclusion, the best way to make sure that your documents are accurate and correct is to have them professionally prepared by a registered legal document assistant. A legal document assistant can prepare and process your court documents and help arrange the publication. Hiring a registered legal document assistant to help you with this process is both a wise and economical choice. Contact A People’s Choice about having our office prepare the forms required to change your name. Our office offers low-cost document preparation services and will make the process easy and stress-free Call us today at 800-747-2780.
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