What is the procedure for an adult to change their name in Texas?

Clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will often times request that their name be changed after a divorce has been finalized. If you are interested in learning more about divorce in Texas and would like to have your name changed as well, then this blog post is for you.

The Texas Family Code allows a person to change their name after a divorce but only to a name that you have used previously. At the final hearing in your case known as a “prove up” you will be asked either by your attorney or by the judge whether or not the purpose of the name change request is to evade creditors or otherwise make yourself harder for someone to track down. As long as your motivation is not something illegal then you will most likely be granted the name change.

I have heard some clients come to our office with a concern that a judge may not grant their name change request in order to ensure that all members of the family share the same last name. This is not true and should be a concern to you. However, if you are attempting to change the name of your child in conjunction with a divorce then you unfortunately will not be able to do so, at least as a part of the divorce case.

What happens after the name change has been granted?

Once you have asked the court for the name change and the change has been granted then your new name is official. You can request that the clerk of your court issue you a certification of your new name. This document will assist you in going through the process of getting your name changed by all the different entities that are a part of your life. In detail, the document states the following:

-your name prior to the name change request being granted

-your new name after the name change request was granted

-the date on which the name change was granted

-your social security number and driver’s license number

-the name of the court that approved your name change request

-the county or district clerk’s signature

Seeking a name change independent of a divorce? The process is less straightforward

If you are an adult who is attempting to change your name outside of a divorce proceeding the process of actually having a court approve your name change request is not quite as simple, however. First and foremost a background check may be necessary. The reason for this is based on the idea that we discussed earlier in this blog post about a court wanting to make sure that you have no suspicious motives for wanting the name change. If you are attempting to evade law enforcement or creditors and changing your name is the means why which you want to accomplish this goal then you will most likely have to look elsewhere for a solution. Part of this background search is submitting fingerprints to the court as well.

The background check is not completed overnight but rather will take up to six weeks. It is not enough to buy a fingerprinting kit off the internet and submit your samples in this manner. Your local police station, FBI office or other state approved finger printing service must be utilized to ensure that the prints are legitimate and not altered in some way. The Texas Department of Public Safety is the state entity that is responsible for running background searches on people. Their office will actually administer the search and report the results to you and the court in which your name change request has been filed.

What must be alleged in your petition for an adult name change in Texas?

If you are asking a court to do something for you then you must petition the court first. Your petition must include your driver’s license number from Texas or any other state that you’ve held in the past ten years and state whether or not you have been convicted of a felony or any other offense in a criminal proceeding. One such felony that you must never have been convicted for is a sex related crime against a minor.

Heading to Court to prove up your name change request

Just like persons who have completed a divorce must do, you must also head to court for a short hearing in front of the judge in order to have your name change request approved. It is a good idea to contact the court prior to setting up a hearing date in order to ensure that they have received the results of the background search and fingerprints. In Harris County, cases like this are “uncontested” meaning that there is not another party who is attempting to stop you from changing your name. These type of cases have hearings that are heard on an early docket from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. for most courts.

The judge will call your name and you will approach him or her and go through a short list of information identifying yourself and stating the reason for your name change request. Once you walk the judge through all of this necessary information he or she will approve your request. In addition to the certificate discussed earlier in this blog post, a certified copy of the order granting your name change can be requested as well from the clerk’s office.

Interested in changing your name as an adult? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you would like to learn more about the process of changing your name in Texas please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. A free of charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is available six days a week. We would be honored to meet with you and answer any question on the subject of name changes or anything else in the field of family law.


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