We often receive inquiries from people who want to legally change their name. Some people wish to go by their middle name, some want to change the spelling of their name, and some people wish to use a different name altogether.
If you want to change your last name after getting married, you can simply make the change on the signed marriage license. In instances of divorce, the name change should be incorporated in the Final Decree of Divorce.
In almost all other circumstances, you must file an Original Petition for Change of Name in court. The Petition must contain the following information:
(1) the present name and address of the person seeking to change their name;
(2) the person’s sex, race, date of birth and social security number
(3) the full name requested for the person seeking to change their name;
(4) the reason the change in name is requested;
(5) whether the person has been the subject of a final felony conviction;
(6) whether the person must register as a sex offender under Chapter 62, Code of Criminal Procedure;
(7) a legible and complete set of the person's fingerprints on a fingerprint card format acceptable to the Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
(8) driver's license number for any driver's license issued in the 10 years preceding the date of the petition;
(9) assigned FBI number, state identification number, if known, or any other reference number in a criminal history record system that identifies the person;
(10)any offense above the grade of Class C misdemeanor for which the person has been charged; and
(11)the case number and the court if a warrant was issued or a charging instrument was filed or presented for an offense listed in (10).
You will also have to prepare an Order for Change of Name that the judge will need to sign. The Order will contain the same information as in the Original Petition and will also state that the change of name is in the best interest of the person requesting the change and for the public.
You must file your petition and proposed order with the District Clerk in the county of your residence and pay the requisite filing fee. It is always a good idea to submit additional copies to the court to stamp so you can keep them for your records. You should follow up with the court after about a week to determine the status of your petition. You should also receive a cause number assigned to your case.
Once you have your cause number, you will need to get your fingerprints taken so that the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) can run a background check for you. You can get fingerprints taken at any local police station, FBI office or DPS office. You will have to mail your fingerprint cards to DPS in Austin. Make sure that your cause number is on the fingerprint cards. DPS will send the findings of the background check to the court that the Petition is filed in.
Once the court has received the background check, you must have a hearing in front of the judge. You can call the court coordinator to set up the time for the hearing. At the hearing, you must show the court that you have not had a final felony conviction, you are not required to register as a sex offender, and that you are not requesting the change of name to avoid creditors or liability.
If the judge is convinced by your testimony, he or she should sign the proposed order. You can request certified copies of this order and use those certified copies to officially change your name on your Social Security card, Driver’s license, passport, etc.
Hopefully this provides some information for those of you contemplating a name change. Please keep in mind that this procedure is only for adults. There are additional requirements to change the name for children which we have not discussed.