My 16-year-old is an aspiring entertainer (theater, dancing, etc). He wants to change his last name given at birth to reflect my married name of the past 6 years (his stepfather's name). Can we accomplish this through a DBA? If so, can he use it in school? We already have his official school documents/registration established with his birth name (which is on his birth certificate). He would prefer to be addressed by the trade name he wants to establish. Thank you.
Mr. Parron is correct that there is a difference between a legal name and a stage name. (A considerable percentage of broadcast personalities that I work with use "on-air names" that are different from their real names, and no DBA is required. They are just playing a role.) A school district might not honor a stage name that was created for business purposes, even if you file a DBA. They might want a court order that changes his name.
Have you looked into having your son's legal name changed through the GA civil court process? I'm not familiar with Georgia law, but in my state for example he would have to have his name changed legally, which involves a petition to the civil court, the agreement of his birth father, a short hearing, and a court order. (This is different from a stepparent adoption, which as a by-product would result in a name change, also.) Again,I don't know what the laws are in Georgia, so I don't know whose permission is required and under what circumstances.
But if your son is going to use different names for personal legal (as opposed to business) purposes, at some point he may have a train wreck because he'd have legal and personal records out there with two different names on them and possibly no way to reconcile them without a court order.
Even if his father doesn't agree to the name change, in the near future your son will be an adult and should be able to make his own decisions about a legal name without requiring anyone's permission.
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There is a distinction between a "legal name" and a PKA or "Professionally Known As." An artist does not have to legally change their name to go by another name. Formation of a legal entity to protect your sons interests is another completely separate matter. And you may also want to consider trademarking the name although it depends upon the stage he is in his career and the uniqueness of the name. You should consult with an entertainment attorney since they regularly focus on the cross-interaction of these multiple areas of law.
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I think Attorney Parron hit on the issues here .
You would not create a DBA to accomplish this, but I agree that asset protection is also an important aspect you should discuss with your own lawyer as well. If anything this the stage name is really a trademark issue. Remember too that even the famous celebs are using their real given names on important legal documents (e.g., school records, medical records, legal/court papers, etc.).
I would discuss your plans and objectives over with a lawyer in private before making any commitments. Most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult.
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