Skip to main content

I need to change my last name

Portland, OR |

I was born in the U.S.A and my mother at that time was a single mother and registered me with her last name only, and she took me to Mexico to live and registred me with my fathers last name and I want to have all my documents in order along with my daughters what can I do?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3


Changing your name is a pretty easy. You have to file a petition in the circuit court of the county where you live. You certify that you're not changing your name to evade justice (i.e., to avoid capture by law enforcement, or to evade your creditors), and you post your petition in several public places for a month. After that, you fill out an affidavit certifying that you've done it, and, if no one has an objection, the name change judgment is signed by a judge and the change becomes official. You're responsible for notifying any institutions - banks, the IRS, &c. - about the change. You do this by getting certified copies of the name change judgment and sending them to any institution that may care about the change.

Changing your children's names is harder. To do that, you need the consent of their other parent, or a court order. You should consult with an attorney if this is going to be an issue.

Please read the following notice: <br> <br> Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br> Jay Bodzin, Northwest Law Office, 2075 SW First Avenue, Suite 2J, Portland, OR 97201 | Telephone: 503-227-0965 | Facsimile: 503-345-0926 | Email: | Online:


Mr. Bodzin is correct. For an adult to change there name is a simple process. You can probably get a packet of forms and instructions down at the local courthouse. A child is a bit harder because both parents must conset, but the child can always just wait until they are 18 and then do it. What I want to comment further on is your concept that your name was changes somehow in Mexico. You name on your original birth certificate should have been your legal name and should still be your legal name. Maybe your mother started using another name for you when you were in Mexico, but your name legally should still be the name on your original birth certificate unless some court ordered a legal name change. What may be going on here is you have both a legal name, the one on your birth certificate, and an adopted name which is not your legal name. Writers and actors often adopt stage names or pen names they use in their work, but these names are not their legal names. The famous writer Mark Twain was actually legally named Samuel Clemens. So you can adopt a name that you use during your life, but you just can't use it for a legal purpose like a driver's license, passport, or your military papers. In the past sometimes people would use pen names for legal documents just by filling in a form, and if no one bothered to check they might well have been issued legal documents with the not so legal name. But in today's computer post 9/11 world legal names are more tightly scrutinized. So I suggest if you do a legal name change you might want to consult with an attorney as to the proper way to fill out the forms to address the various name issues you have and to make sure the final court order is written in a way that you can submit it to to office where your birth records are so that your name on your birth record can be properly updated. This will be important when you want to get legal documents issued like a passport in the future.

The comments by this author to questions posted on Avvo are designed to foster a general understanding of what might be the law governing the area of the legal problem stated and suggest what might be the approach to finding a legal solution. Under no circumstances is this author acting as the attorney for the party who posted the question or as the attorney for subsequent readers to the question or response and no attorney client relationship is being formed. This attorney's comments are not intended to be a substitute for getting legal advice from a licensed attorney. A reader of this author's comments should never act on the information provided in these comments as though these comments were legal advice and should always seek legal advice in a personal consultation with an attorney in their jurisdiction before taking action. The information provided here is not intended to cover every situation with similar facts. Please remember that the law varies between states and other countries and is always changing through actions of the courts and the Legislature.


I agree with my fellow lawyers. This is something you can probably do yourself, but if you get stuck, you should consult with a general practitioner lawyer on an as needed basis. Many times, the court provides booklets to assist people seeking a name change.

Joanne Reisman

Joanne Reisman


Just to clarify - the time to see a lawyer is when you fill out the Petition. That is because the information on the Petition has to match the Judgment and if the Judgment doesn't list your former names and your desired future name in such a way that the vital statistic can feel sure they have the right information - then you have to start over with the name change Petition. So don't wait "until you get stuck". Because of the issues you have listed in your facts - that you have used two separate names in you life - you probably need the help of a lawyer to address this properly in the Petition.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer