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NOTE: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes and are designed to help you in representing yourself. Please carefully review the directions and resources available to improve your performance in your case. Failure to read and follow the instructions may adversely impact your case. If you have any questions, please consult with an attorney.
NAME CHANGE OF AN ADULT
In general, the court proceedings for an adult are relatively simple. So long as the requirements are satisfied, the judge will grant the name change. You should tell the judge the reason for wanting to change your name, as some reasons may be more important than others and will require special attention.
NAME CHANGE OF A MINOR (CHILD)
For a minor’s name change there are a couple extra points to keep in mind: The reason for the change should be significant, such as adoption or bringing a stepchild into a family. One parent or guardian will submit the petition with a reason for the change and the other parent or guardian will have to give his/her consent. (So long as both parents are on the birth certificate and still alive, both parents must consent to the name change of the minor.) Both parents/guardians will be notified of the petition, which means an objecting parent has time to come forward with an objection.
NOTE: If only one parent has legal custody of the minor, and the minor has reached the age of 16, he or she may apply for a name change with the consent of the parent who has legal custody (provided the clerk is convinced the non-custodial parent has abandoned the minor). If the non-custodial parent denies that he/she abandoned the child, this issue of fact shall be transferred and determined as provided in G.S. 1-301.2. If abandonment is determined, the consent of the non-custodial parent is not required. Upon final determination of this issue of fact the proceeding shall be transferred back to the special proceedings docket for further action by the clerk. [N.C. Gen. Stat., Chapter 101. Names of Persons, § 101-2.]
If there is controversy over whether the child’s name should be changed, a hearing in front of a judge is more likely. Ultimately, the judge will decide what is in the best interest of the child. Remember that changing a name is not the same as a legal adoption or the removal of parental responsibilities. If your child lives with your ex-wife and changes his or her last name to that of his stepfather’s, your responsibilities and obligations as a biological parent have not changed.
REASONS FOR CHANGING A NAME
The most common reasons for changing a name are the following:
- General desire to change the given name;
- Becoming a U.S. Citizen;
- To make it easier for others to use and understand;
- To escape an abusive relationship and not be found; or
- To be known by a stage name.
NOTE: If you are getting married or divorced, you have at least one thing in your favor: name changes can be an automatic part of the process (see below).
CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE A NAME CHANGE CAN BE AUTOMATIC
Marriage: The most common scenario involves the woman taking her husbands’ surname, and rearranging all her legal records. Sometimes, the man will take his wife’s surname, so he will need to rearrange only his legal records. Some couples hyphenate their surnames (last names) together, in which case both people must be prepared to rearrange their records. On occasion, the couple chooses an entirely new last name for both of them. No matter what scenario applies to you, you can change your name by writing the name you desire on the marriage license you fill out when you get married. NOTE: Women should take precautions against losing their credit rating because of a new name. This can be done by notifying credit bureaus of the name change and requesting that credit built during years of being single is included under the new name.
Divorce: Returning to a maiden name (or any other name) is handled in the divorce proceeding, if requested. Look over your divorce paperwork and fill in your maiden name where appropriate to request the automatic name change. NOTE: It is not required that people change their names after divorce and a woman who changed her name for her husband’s surname can continue to use it if she wants to.
Other: While much less frequent, there are other opportunities for an automatic name change.
After a divorce you can go to Special Proceedings (located in the Clerk of Court’s Office on the 3rd floor of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse) and get the form for resuming a maiden name.
Legal aliens can change their names in federal court when they become United States citizens.
Adoption proceedings also provide an opportunity to change a child’s name and, in some cases, his/her original birth certificate.
CHANGING LEGAL RECORDS
Once your name is changed, you will need to contact certain people or agencies. A good place to start is the Social Security Administration and then the Department of Motor Vehicles. You should also send a copy of your court order to the Bureau of Records or Vital Statistics in the state where you were born so you can either amend your birth certificate or get a new one. After contacting these agencies, contact any of the following agencies or people that should be made aware of your name change:
- credit card agencies
- Internal Revenue Service
- utility companies
- your employer
- the post office
- stocks/bonds/mutual funds
- retirement plans
- real estate
- professional associations
- The Registrar of Voters
- car registration
- house, car and life insurance
- your will
- other people’s wills that might have your old name
- your doctor
- your lawyer
- powers of attorney
- frequent flyer programs
- welfare office
- veteran’s administration
- academic institutions
Some of these places (such as the Social Security Administration) will insist on seeing documentation. Others will not. Some will just need a phone call, while others will need to see you in person or get it in writing. Documentation helps with your transition between names, so the more documentation you get, the easier the subsequent changes will be. When sending a letter, be sure to state clearly your new and old name and explain that you want them interchanged. Enclose a copy of your court order for verification purposes. Also, do not immediately throw away your old identification. It may be necessary to prove who you once were. Some IDs, like your passport, may carry an A.K.A. (“also known as”), so you’re not completely free of your original name.
NOTE: The information contained on this page was gathered from the following websites: http://www.uslegalforms.com/changeofname/north-carolina-name-change.htm and http://www.soyouwanna.com/name-changes/