Obtaining a Name Change
There are many situations that can cause a person to consider legally changing their name.
Some of the most common reasons for name changes include:
- Your desire to have the same name on all important documents (SS card, driver’s license, passport, etc.)
- A dislike of your current name
- Taking your spouse’s name or loved one’s surname
- Changing your name following a divorce
- Creating a new name for you and your spouse by hyphenating your surnames
- Changing your name to honor a stepparent or another person who has been consequential in your life
- Creating a new name to honor your ethnicity, heritage, or religious reasons
Although the law specifically prohibits you from changing your name for the purpose of fraud, you can change your name for the above reasons, or for other reasons personal to you.
Changing Your Name Through Marriage
Most women still take their new husband’s surname when they marry, but if you are changing your name through a marriage certificate, you have the following options for surname (last name):
- You can combine the two surnames (Jones-Dunbar)
- Your spouse’s surname can become your surname
- You can take a surname from a prior marriage
- You can keep your own surname
All you have to do is put your new surname on your marriage certificate application, then when your marriage license is issued, you have proof of your new name.
Changing Your Name Through Divorce
Following a divorce, you may want to keep the surname you had as of your marriage, or you may want to change your surname. Under Georgia law, you can take back your maiden surname (the last name you were born with), or a prior name during the divorce proceedings. Your final divorce decree is proof that your name has been changed.
Name Change Petition
If you are not getting married or divorced, you must go through the courts to change your name. You must first file a petition in your county’s superior court, then verify that petition through a signed document. You will need to list your reasons for the name change, publish a notice of your petition for four weeks, then schedule and attend a court hearing where the issue will be decided. A parent may file a name change petition in the same manner on behalf of a child who is still a minor, although the consent of all parents is required.
Other Name Change Issues
As noted above, you may not change your name for any fraudulent purpose. From the date of your court filing, you must wait 28 days for newspaper publication, then you will have a final hearing with the Superior Court where you will complete and sign all paperwork. You must change your name on your driver’s license within 60 days of your name change as well as changing your name on your Social Security card.
Once you have completed all the legal requirements associated with your name change, you can start using your new name. Remember to change your name with your bank and your creditors and update your social media accounts. You can then tell family, friends, neighbors, and your employer about your name change.
Contact our knowledgeable Atlanta family law attorney team today to begin your name change journey.