Many people (women, mostly) will change their legal name after their divorce has been finalized. It is simple to do so in the divorce as long as the name you are asking yours to be changed to has been one you’ve gone by before and the request is not being made to avoid creditors or law enforcement.
If you hire a family law attorney to represent you in a divorce it’s likely that he or she will ask you prior to filing your Original Petition if you are going to request your name to be changed.
However, in some instances you will get a divorce and not ask for your name to be changed, only to change your mind later on and eventually seek a formal name change. In today’s blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC I will discuss with you all the process of formally and legally changing your name in Texas.
As opposed to divorce, child custody, or other family law cases changing your name is not an especially contentious matter but there are a procedure and process that you must follow to get the change that you are requesting.
The process of petitioning for a name change
As I stated earlier, most name changes occur in conjunction with a divorce or at the time that you and your spouse are married. It’s possible that you would want to change your name in a separate proceeding.
Your court will basically be needing to check and make sure that you are not requesting this name change in order to avoid a creditor or other sorts of legal trouble. Had you asked for your name to be changed in conjunction with your divorce the judge would have checked on this prior to granting your name change at that point as well.
A less frequently asked for name change has to do with that of a child. If you are a parent who is interested in pursuing a name change for your child today’s blog post will hopefully contain some helpful information in that regard as well. Specifically, you must inform and notify the other parent or conservator of your child regarding your requesting the court to legally change the name of your child.
In this scenario, the level of contentiousness can increase compared to a name change for an adult as your ex-spouse may disagree with your desire to change your child’s name. Ultimately a judge would make the decision as to whether or not the name change is in the best interests of your child.
Filing a Petition for a Change of Name
You will begin your name change effort by filing an Original Petition for Change of Name. You will file this document with a district clerk in the county where you and/or your child resides. Once your petition is filed you will be known as the Petitioner in your legal case.
If you are an adult requesting a name change for yourself, you must sign your Petition (even if you’ve hired an attorney to help you in this regard) in front of a notary in that the law requires your petition to be verified (sworn to be true).
There is additional information that will need to be included in your petition such as:
- your residence’s address
- the name you currently have
- the name you are requesting yours to be changed to and
- the reason you are making this change request of the court.
- Additionally, any information regarding legal offenses that you have been convicted of must be included as well.
If you are the parent or conservator of a child and you are requesting a name change for him or her a similar petition must be filed on that child’s behalf. The law in Texas mandates that your Petition is served by a constable or professional process server upon the other parent or conservator to your child.
As with a name change petition for an adult, a name change petition for a child must:
- list the name of your child
- the name you are requesting the change be made to and
- the reason why the name change is being requested
- Any prior court order affecting your child should be attached as an exhibit to this petition or incorporated by reference into the petition
- Finally, if your child is over the age of ten he or she will need to submit in writing their consent to the name change.
Drafting an Order for Change of Name
Once your petition has been filed with the clerk and your case has been assigned a cause number and court, you will need to have the Petition served upon any other relevant party to the case. If your request does not need to be served upon any person you and your attorney would need to have an order drafted that states the relief that you are seeking- notably your new name. Once the order is ready, you will need to schedule a time to appear before the judge in order to submit your order for his or her signature.
The judge will likely hold a brief hearing and ensure that all the requirements have been met as far as your petition and order are concerned. Depending on the court that your case is assigned to your judge may need you to schedule a hearing or that may not be necessary at all. Your attorney would schedule the hearing and handle any logistical matters for you.
Requirements of an order for an adult’s name change
For an adult, your order must contain all the information that your petition did with some additional information as well. The one key piece of additional information that will be included in your order is that the name change is in your best interests and the best interests of the public as a whole. The judge will walk with you through these elements of your order to ensure everything is in its proper place and format.
As long as you have not had any felony convictions in your past, have not been required to register as a sex offender and have shown the court that your name change request is in yours and the public’s best interests then your request will be granted. Your testimony alone in a hearing is sufficient in most cases to meet these burdens.
In the event that you have a felony conviction, you would need to show that you have either been pardoned, received a discharge certificate from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or have completed probation in order to have the name change granted. Even then, it is up to your judge’s discretion whether to grant the name change request.
Requirements of an order for a child’s name change
For a child’s name change, your order must specify and you as the Petitioner must show that you are making the name change request only after having served the other parent/conservator of the child. You will need to show that the other parent/conservator has agreed to the name change in writing, or is available in testify in the hearing regarding their agreement on the name change issue.
If there is no agreement on the issue, your case will go to a contested hearing where the judge will hear testimony regarding the name change and will make a ruling on the subject. In general, whatever decision the judge makes will be based on what is in the best interests of your child.
Regarding the final order itself, the same information that you included in the petition must be included in the final order. This includes a statement that the name change is in the best interests of your child and the aforementioned signed agreement from the other parent/conservator must be included if an agreement was reached.
Be prepared to answer the following questions for a judge would regarding why it is in your child best interests that their name be changed:
- How long as your child’s last name been used (i.e. how old is your child)?
- Would the name change avoid confusion for your child?
- Would the name change be more convenient for your child?
- Would the name change help your child be bound to the family unit more?
- As we mentioned earlier, does your child over the age of ten want the name change?
How to proceed after your name change request has been granted
Supposing that the judge has agreed to change your name or that of your child you will need to take the signed order to any state or federal agency that is in charge of changing your name on any official documents. This would include getting a new driver’s license or social security card.
Banks, places of employment, insurance providers and other private sector entities would need this signed order as well to update your information accordingly.
Questions on legally changing your name in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC today
Requesting a name change is straightforward but can take some time if you do not have experience in filing and handling lawsuits in Texas family law courts. The attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are experienced in advocating on behalf of clients across southeast Texas. We can help you to file a request for name change and to assist you in working it through the courts in an efficient manner. Contact us today to set up a free of charge consultation to discuss your situation and to have any questions answered.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.