There are many unique reasons why any person may want or need to change a name. Marriage, divorce and adoption are easily the most common reasons people make a name change. Due to stricter proof of name requirements for issuance of driver’s licenses and passports, some may need a court order changing his or her legal name to a name that they have used for many years.
The legal process to change the name of an adult or child can be confusing and has varying requirements depending on your specific circumstances. Upon marriage, a name change by either spouse to the other spouse’s last name or any combination of the spouses’ names can be accomplished without a court order. If the name change is due to a divorce or adoption, the legal name change is typically granted as part of the final judgment in that matter, but it may also be granted at a later date in a separate name change action. Separate actions for name change are filed in the county where the person resides, and legal name changes are granted by the order of a family court judge.
The following individuals may seek a change of name: (i) an adult; and (ii) an adult on behalf of a minor child. Each adult seeking a name change must submit his or her fingerprints for a state and national criminal background check, unless the name change is to a previous name, for example, a maiden name.
Name change of a minor typically requires consent of both parents. Sometimes entire families seek to change the family’s last name, and in such cases, each adult must file a separate petition and complete the required background check. Parents can petition to change the names of multiple children as part of one petition.
Once a petition for change of name is filed, a hearing before a family law judge may be required. The name change request is granted unless a Court finds that (i) the petitioner has ulterior or illegal motives in seeking the name change, (ii) the petitioner’s civil rights are suspended, or (iii) granting the name change will invade the property rights (e.g., intellectual property rights) of others.
If the name change is not associated with a divorce or adoption, there is a specific disclosure which must be included in the petition which must be verifiable by the court including:
That the petitioner is a resident in the county which the petition is filed
The petitioner’s date and place of birth and residence since birth
Spouse’s name and the names and residences of any children
Any prior name changes
Occupation and places of employment for the past five years
Any other names or alias by which the petitioner has been known or called
Date and place of any adjudication of bankruptcy
Date and place of any felony conviction
Date and place of any money judgment entered against the petitioner
That the name change is not for fraudulent or illegal purposes and that the change will not invade the property rights of others
That the petitioner’s civil rights have not been suspended or, if suspended, that they have been fully restored
Florida Law does not discriminate against those with a felony conviction prior to July 15, 1995 in allowing a legal name change. Individuals with felony convictions after July 15, 1995 must have their civil rights restored. However, the criminal record of the individual seeking the legal name change will be transferred to the new name the individual has taken.
At The Law Office of Knellinger & Associates, Gainesville, FL, we center our practice on the unique needs of our clients. We will guide, educate and support you throughout the legal name change process. To discuss how we can help you, call or e-mail our law office for a free phone consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate family law attorneys.
The Law Office of Knellinger & Associates provides legal advice and representation for individuals, entrepreneurs, and business owners in Gainesville, Florida, and communities throughout north central Florida, including cities such as Ocala, Starke, Palatka, Lake City, Middleburg, Trenton, Bronson, Lake Butler, Cross City, Williston, Chiefland, Alachua, Jasper, Live Oak, and Jacksonville, Florida.
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