Name Change In California – The Easy Way 

Name Change In California – The Easy Way 

The chances are that you are reading this document because you or/and someone you know wants to change their name. The reason you want this information is apparent to you but differs from one person to the next. In other words, everyone has different unique situations or circumstances why they wish to change their name.

This document will cover everything there is to know about the topic and is divided into different sections to make it easy to locate the part that applies to your unique situation. It does not matter if you want to request new documents, need your ID paperwork, have everything you need, or simply want to know how to make everything happen; this article covers everything. We are grateful to Eric Selten of EZ Name Change, a California name change company, which also serves the entire country. The procedure that can be utilized in most other states, so this is an excellent source of information on the subject. 

What Is a Legal Name?

Everyone is given an official name at birth. As such, your first legal name was printed on your birth certificate. That name will always remain your legal name, unless you change it LEGALLY. There are only two ways to do this:

  • By Court Order – A person living in California can apply for a name change decree. This is the gold standard of court orders. The court order is honored for IDs across the U.S. and even around the world.
  • By Usage – For thousands of years, before IDs, courts, laws, terrorists, etc., people changed their names this way. The way it worked was using one name for more than five years continuously, and you would have legally changed your name by usage.  Well, this method is common but does not apply in all situations. Even though the method is legal, there are situations where you will need to have a proper court order for it to apply. 

Do You Really Need A Name Change Document?

Law enforcement agencies have increasingly been concerned with people’s identity since 9/11. Now, because a person’s name is a massive part of their identity, laws have been put in place to stiffen the requirements about tracing the name back to when a person was born. That becomes an important record regarding your identity, which will include the original name at birth. Therefore, if you have been using a different name or want to use a different name from the one you were given at birth, or need a government ID for your new choice, then you will need a court order. This is the only way the government registration agency will print out an ID the way you want (including marriage license, passport, real ID, Social security, and any other document).

The second option, which is ‘Usage Name Change,’ was accepted, but today it is no longer allowed and does not satisfy key ID Issuers. For other official documents and registrations such as banks, professional licensing, school registration, marriage license, passports, and real California state ID, you will be required to have legal proof documents.  In other words, you will need a properly done court order. 

What Is A Name Change Document And Do You Already Have One? 

If you have a valid name change document, you just need to take a certified copy or original copy to the most convenient Social Security office to get a new card printed with the name you want. Remember, a valid name change document has specific characteristics that must be seen to know if it is valid or already have it. 

The characteristics of a name change document:

  • The Name You Were Born With And The New Legal Name – Both names are printed in full on the single official document. Everything must be done the right way for it to work. Examples: a superior court order, adoption order with the old name and the new name written in full, citizenship certificate using correctly prepared old name/new name application. 
  • Authorized government officer or judicial signature – the Federal or state law citation must be shown or include a signature from the proper authority.
  • Official identifying symbols (the official letterhead) – The document must have the name and letterhead of the institution authorizing the name change
  • Clear Government Seal or any other Symbol showing authority – This shows legislative jurisdiction. For example, the seal of California state. This government agency needed to use a review process to assure your identity, background and purpose prior to approval.

If you are not sure the document meets the test, take it to your nearest driver’s license and social security office. They are in a better position to confirm and even make changes for you. The moment your document is accepted by both the social security and state Id/driver’s license, you are in. From there, everything should be easy. All you need to remember is that a correctly done court order will not fail. 

How To Get A Valid Name Change Document?

The first step is filing a petition in the California superior court. If granted, you can then obtain a certified copy of a Decree Changing Name. What you need to know is that every state in America has a set of rules or laws that govern this kind of petition case;Hawaii’s process only works in Hawaii. Also, remember that every county has its own rules and regulations that govern changing names. Therefore, it is crucial to follow the rules of where you are living now.

For example, in California, the name change process satisfies every state, the federal government, and even meets international standards for security and integrity. However, note that a marriage certificate might or might not be a valid change of name document. For a document to be accepted, it must contain your maiden name and a full new name, along with the other required characteristics. 

The sure way to get the kind of document you need is by getting an approved Order in the Superior or High Court. If, for example, you divorce your partner and it becomes final, you can retake your maiden name (or any other name you had previously) through your divorce case. On the other hand, if you want to change your name to something besides your exact maiden name, you can do that by getting a Decree Changing Name through civil court. And, if you want to change your name in line with your gender identity, then you can file a name petition in a Superior Court for name change or for gender and name change together. 

All 3 of these types of court orders will satisfy the requirements for changing your name on the ID, reflecting your legal name in everyday life.

EZ Name changing is a specialized legal name change service, for California residents. The following information is what you need to get a name change court order in California. Every state or county follows its own rules and regulations regarding the name change. However, they all have most or some of the following essential characteristics:

  • A set of complete application forms known as a petition – The forms will ask you to fill your current legal name, the name change purpose, birth information, current address, criminal history, and other personal information. After this, you are required to file them with the correct court and pay a particular fee (or submit a court fee waiver request for court approval).  In California, the amount to pay is between $435 to $480, depending on your current location of residence. After the payment, you will receive a court hearing date.
  • Provide public and private notice – The aim is to indicate that you are petitioning to change your name. in California, people will be invited and allowed to object to your request. The objection, if any, is then taken into consideration by the judge. Remember, you will be required to pay a fee for the notice and be required to provide evidence of publication or the service. Publication cost in California ranges between $45 to $500, which also depends on your choice of publication and county residency. 
  • Attending the approval hearing – The next step is attending the approval hearing or subject yourself according to court requirements. The court will review your petition, the objections, and even criminal history decision and assessment. 
  • After approval, you will receive the Certified Copy(s) of the Decree Changing Name, which is the court order. You will use this Decree to change your name in different institutions like Social Security, DMV, Schools, etc.

The 2 Variations:

  • The Maiden Name Change – If you wish to change your name back to former legal name or maiden name, you can do that through application in your divorce case. Through this method it can only be changed back to exactly how it was. The good news is that you can start the process before or after the divorce case is final.  Like any other process, it must be done through the right channels.
  • Gender Identity Name Change – If you wish to change your name so that it can go hand in hand with your gender identity, you have the right to file a petition for the recognition of gender, name change, and issuance of a new Birth certificate. Established by law in 2018 in California, the process does not require a hearing date or publishing but does require proper documents and background check. The process allows for objection, but not like other name changing petitions. 

What About Changing A Child’s Name? 

The process of changing a child’s or minor’s name is the same as for an adult. It does not matter if the child is just a day old or 17 years of age; everything is the same. These steps are needed because of school registration and the child’s ID. If both parents petition for a child’s name, no extra steps will be required. However, if only one parent signs the petition, the process may be successful, but additional processes must be followed and completed.

In the case where there are non-consenting parents, they will have to be served a hearing notice properly. A Proof of Service form must be filed before judgment is granted for the petition. The truth is that it is sometimes challenging to serve a non-consenting parent of a minor. In such a case, the parent can supply a declaration to explain. The judge has the right to dispense with the petitioning parent’s duty to serve if the judge is satisfied that the minor’s other parent cannot be reasonably notified. 

If the other parent objects, the judge is most likely going to make a ruling based on the best interest of the child(ren). In the case of a civil court and the parent objects, the verdict can be to have the parent seek a decision from a family law court. It is best for both parents to reach an agreement, if possible, before filing the petition.  The moment you have a Certified Copy of the Court Order, the other processes are immediately available when it comes to changing a child’s school registration name and other IDs. 

How To Change ID And Other Official Records When You Have A Valid Name Change Document

The goal of a name change is having your new name reflected in all your documents. In other words, your ID and other relevant documents should have your new name and not the old one. Doing this will help you eliminate a lot of questions, especially when traveling. Remember, every government institution has its rules and regulations when it comes to printing your name and cards. As such, it would be wise to have all of the changes so that they all match. You have to decide how much to push and, therefore, be practical. The goal is to make things easy. 

After changing your name, it is wise to use your new legal name in everything you do. This also includes responding to those using your old name, by writing back requesting to change it to reflect the new one. Remember to be practical. Do not enter into unnecessary arguments about it; be persistent. It is not wrong for those close to you, like friends and family, to call you what they want. Just be patient and decide on a case by case basis.  As soon as you are successful at legally changing your name; it is wise to work on your ID first and as soon as possible. Work on DMV, SSA, School, Passport Work, Bank, and others. That is because these points of ID reference come up more frequently than you think. Within a few months, others will follow, including your friends and family in their own time. 

In the case where you wish to apply for an amendment of your birth record in California or any other state in America, you will be forced to produce a certified copy of Name Change Decree from the high court or Superior court. Remember, they will retain the one you send for that.. There are places or offices that will want to see the Certified Copy and return it to you. A majority of people do not bother with having their birth record amended because the name change document is a legal proof of your new name the moment you have signed the court order. 

The Priority List For Changing Official Records And ID

 

  • Social Security Card – The first thing is to ensure the name is spelled correctly on your social security card. Download their SS-5 application form from their website or at an office near you. Go with your government-issued birth certificate and the name change document issued. They should be in a position to make the necessary changes to your name on their computers while in the SSA offices. Within a few weeks, you will get a permanent SS card in your mail. 
  • Get A Driver’s License Or State ID – State ID is a nationwide recognized document that might give you access to almost everything across the US. Browse or research for all the requirements they need and then take all to their offices. Because the first thing they will check is your social security number, wait a day or two after making changes with the social security administration before applying for a new driver’s license or real ID. There are other documents that you will be required to bring, such as birth certificate, the certified copy of the decree document, and other documents. For Real ID, you’ll need residency documentation too.
  • Bank And Employer – Take the Original or Certified name change document to your bank and have them change the name of your accounts. The bank and employers will change only the name but retain previous records before the name change. There is no need to send your checks also to be fixed and then resent back to you. It is important to have your bank recognize that you have changed your name through legal means. 
  • Professional Licensing – If you already have a professional license, but obtained a name change decree, then it is also wise to change the names found in your professional license. All you have to do is locate their application for a name change and submit it together with a certified copy of the name change decree document. All organizations that regulate or register professionals will definitely have a name-changing process published and readily accessible. Sometimes the processes take time and therefore wise to get started as soon as possible. 
  • School – If the name change is for your child or minor, or an adult who is still to complete a course sturdy, then they should change their name in the school’s registration system. These changes are important, which allows your school to credit school results in the right name. Almost all schools have a register or registration office where names and school standings are kept. That is the office where you will have to go so that you can change your name. The good news is that school registration changes will not take much of your time and, in fact, can be completed within an hour or less one day. 
  • Passport – Changing the name in your passport will depend on priority. In other words, if you intend to travel soon, then you should consider prioritizing it as soon as possible. The department of the Passport office is well equipped to react quickly for ticketed travels that have been set to start very soon. However, sometimes the process might take time. Therefore, it would be wise to plan accordingly, especially if you are dealing with satellite offices such as the post office or passport agency. Also, these places change their policies often in order to keep up with current issues and market updates. If your planned travel is too soon to make ticketing or passport changes needed, consider waiting until you return before changing any ID or Official Records. I
  • Birth Certificate – Birth certificate name change is also important but not necessary. Therefore, if you wish to change the names found in your birth certificate, you can do this by contacting the California Department of Public Health in California. If you were born somewhere else or in other states, you would be required to correspond with the similar agency for the state in which you were born. To an adult, this document is not as crucial because the Certified Copy of Name Change Court Decree is a legal document by itself. However, a parent with an infant or minor may want or need this change. 

Any other place where your name is registered and recorded is of lesser importance. Nevertheless, it would be a wise thing to change it anyway simply for consistency of your new name. You can change your name with each other place when the need arises, like membership renewal, filing a tax return, making a monthly payment, and so on. The best way to approach this is to continuously use your new name in all of your document and registration situations. Soon enough, changes in everything will come into place. Remember, the moment you change your name with the leading governmental and private official organization and offices, you will be amazed by how quickly your new name will catch on. Marriage license and citizenship certificates will never need tobe changed. This is because they prove that you were married and became a citizen but no longer prove your legal name now. 

Conclusion

Name Change may be a life-changing event. It does not matter if it is for your last name, middle name, first name, or all of them. It is personal and it’s your right. All you have to remember is that it is not as easy or free as you may think. However, if you know what to look for, what to do, and the processes to take, the whole thing will not take much of your time, effort, and even money. You have a right to live a wonderful life under the name you wish to go by. You can do this!

Nicholas Jansen

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