There are many reasons a person may seek a name change – marriage, divorce, or simply a dislike for their current one! This blog will walk you through the most common cases and introduce you to the name change process. The attorneys at McCart & Tesmer assist clients with the name change process; get in touch with us if you have questions about legal name changes in Florida.
Top Reasons For Name Changes:
- Marriage or Divorce –
There are several paths to take when it comes to name change after marriage,
- Taking your spouse’s surname.
- Hyphenating your surnames.
- Creating a new last name for one or both of you.
- Taking your spouse’s name legally, but keep your given name professionally.
- Taking your spouse’s last name and making your given name your middle name.
Similar options exist when finalizing a divorce. Some individuals choose to return to their given surnames, while others prefer to keep their married name to be the same as their children’s.
- Changing Child’s Surname to Mother’s, Father’s, or Stepparent’s –
Various life circumstances can warrant a name change for a child, such as being adopted by a relative or step-parent or a parent getting married.
While a child’s biological parent, adoptive parent, or legal guardian may ask the court for a name change, all other legal parents or guardians must give written permission, known as consent.
- Correcting a Birth Certificate –
Errors or omissions can occur on a birth certificate, particularly if the birth certificate was hand-written. Frequent errors that occur include misspelling of a name, missing or extra space in a name or an incorrect maiden name for the mother. If the child’s birth certificate was just issued (Florida law requires a birth certificate to be filed within five days of birth with the local registrar), the correct can be quickly caught and made. However, after this period of time, a court order permitting the corrective birth must be obtained.
- Name Changes for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals –
Because a person’s name follows them everywhere, people want to feel comfortable with theirs. Often transgender individuals choose to change their first name to one that best aligns with their gender identity.
- Aspiration, Spiritual, Religious –
Some individuals desire to change their name to reflect their beliefs, vocation, or experiences, or to honor their heritage by taking a lost family name.
- Dislike of Current Name –
One of the top reasons people change their name is simply because they dislike it. Whether a person prefers to go by their nickname, middle name, or a different name altogether, legally changing one’s name to the one they prefer is a valid and legal reason.
- Simplify –
- Spelling or Pronunciation – A name change can eliminate hard to pronounce or hard to spell names.
- Length of Name- A long first name and second name may not fit on government ID’s (really, it’s happened!)
- Uniformity of ID – Over time, many people adopt name variations, which can cause problems in official records. Some choose to change their name so that it appears the same on all of their important documents (passport, driver’s license, social security card, military ID, birth certificate, etc.).
- To Match Their Children’s – Single parents can especially experience difficulty accessing school or medical services if their names do not match.
- Branding or to Stand Out From The Crowd –
Some individuals choose to change their name for notoriety, whether brand recognition or to entertain and/or shock people.
Entertainers often adopt a stage name and want to make it legal at some point. The same can be true for business professionals who have gained a certain notoriety.
One of our favorite stories of stand-out name change is that of Daniel Knox-Hewson. Hewson, a 23-year-old from the UK, legally changed his name to “Emperor Spiderman Gandalf Wolverine Skywalker Optimus Prime Goku Sonic Xavier Ryu Cloud Superman Heman Batman Thrash.” How is that for distinctive?
Florida Name Change Requirements:
- Complete a ‘Petition for Change of Name’ (Minors, Adult, or Family).
- Get fingerprinted for a criminal history background check.
- File the completed petition with the clerk of court and pay the filing fee of $401 (subject to change without notice).
- Once your application has been accepted and your filing fee paid, the clerk will set your hearing date. Hearing dates vary significantly between counties. This may be scheduled within days, weeks, or as long as six months away.
- Ask for at least 2-3 certified copies of your name change order so you can change your records with various organizations without waiting for your only certificate to be returned.
No matter the reason, legally changing your name can be complicated, and the requirements vary case-to-case. Once your name change is finalized, you will have additional steps to take, such as getting a new social security card, contacting account holders to change your name, etc. The attorneys at McCart & Tesmer are here to help. For a consultation to discuss your matter, please call (813) 498-2757 or email info@McCartTesmer.com.