Changing Your Name
Some people change their name to make it easier to spell or pronounce. Other people change their name because of marriage, divorce or family problems.
People can use any name they want, as long as they do not choose it for a fraudulent purpose (such as to defraud creditors) and it does not invade someone else’s privacy. Also, people cannot use a number as their name. One man tried to change his name to the Roman numeral “III” (pronounced “three”). Before that, a man tried to change his name to “1069.” Both name change requests were denied. The courts are unanimous that a number is not a name. However, it is likely that a number that is spelled out, such as “Five,” can be a name.
How to Change a Name
Most states allow a simple method for changing a name. A person can just start regularly using the new name and change his or her driver’s license, social security card and other documents. All states also have a formal court procedure that can be used for a name change.
Government agencies, banks and other businesses sometimes will not issue documents unless they have certification that the new name really belongs to the applicant. Thus, changing a name is often simplified by using the formal court procedure, even in states that do not require it. The formal procedure consists mainly of publishing the proposed new name in a local newspaper and then getting a court order certifying the name change. A copy of the court’s order can be used to show anyone that the new name is official.
Changing Your Name After Marriage or Divorce
In our society, women have often adopted the last name of their husband. But no law requires this, and the custom is changing. Many married women now keep their maiden name. In some marriages, both partners use a combination of their last names. For example, when Susan Smith and John Jones marry, they may use the name Susan and John Smith-Jones. No law prohibits this practice.
Many women who changed their name when they were married often want to go back to their maiden name if they divorce. There are several ways to do this, including adding a provision to the divorce decree or simply resuming use of the prior name and changing driver’s licenses and other documents accordingly, thus avoiding going through the formal name change process discussed above and the related cost. In some cases, women who elected not to change their name at the time of their divorce change their mind after the decree has already been filed. In this event, the return to the maiden name can be accomplished by filing a simple form with the local court clerk at no cost. We would be pleased to provide this form to you upon request.