What to Know About Changing Your Name in California

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, fraud, or have recently gone through a divorce in California, you may be wondering what the process of changing your name is. We understand that it may feel like an extremely overwhelming process, but there is hope.

In states like California, changing one’s name used to be as simple as updating your records at the Department of Motor Vehicle and the Social Security Administration. After using the new name for a few years, it would become official. However, due to the increase in identity theft, fraud, and terrorism, most state agencies require you to file a petition with the courts to change your name legally. 

Today, we will explore the steps for legally changing your name in California, what documents you will need so you can be fully prepared, and what happens after your name is legally changed. 

File A Petition For A Name Change In A California Court

The first step in legally changing your name is to fill out the Name Change Petition form, (NC-100). When you’re filling out the name change petition form, you’ll have to provide your details, attorney name if you are using one for this process, superior court location, and of course, the proposed new name. 

You’ll also have to complete an order to show cause for a change of name, which requires that you justify or explain why you want to change your name. Depending on the county you reside in and your reason for the name change, you might also have to fill out additional standardized forms. You might also have to fill out a criminal background form.

The court does charge a filing fee. Therefore, when you submit the required documents for the name change petition, you must include the specified filing fee. If you can’t afford to pay the court filing fee, you can file a Fee Waiver Request. Once you submit the name change petitions forms, the court clerk will assign a case number and set a date for your hearing. 

Publish A Change Of Name Notice

California law requires that you give a public notice of your name change by advertising it in an adjudicated newspaper or a publication approved by the courts to perform such notices. The public notice or advertisement will need to run at least once a week for four consecutive weeks. 

When you appear in court, you will have to provide proof of publication. Depending on the newspaper company, they may send the proof of publication to the mailing address you provide so that you can show the judge at your next court date. However, more accommodating outlets might file a proof of publication affidavit with the court on your behalf. 

You must inquire about how and when you can expect to receive the proof of publication because a judge won’t approve your name change petition without this document. 

Obtain A Certified Copy Of The Name Change Court Order

When the judge approves your petition and signs the Decree Changing Name, the name change becomes legal. You should obtain a certified copy of the Decree Changing Name right away. Typically, you can get a certified copy at the same courthouse. You will need your Certified Decree Changing Name document to officially change the names on your vital IDs and records, such as your driving license, birth certificate, social security, passport, and even your bank account. 

What Documents Do You Need To Change Your Name?

Of course, before you begin the name-changing process, you’ll need to have the proper identification. You will have to show proof of citizenship or lawful immigration status by presenting your birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, or social security card. If you are taking your spouse’s last name, you will have to show your marriage license. If you don’t have these documents in your possession, you will have to go through the process of reaching out to the respective government agencies and request to have them replaced. 

Changing Your Last Name After A Divorce

If you assumed your spouse’s last name when you got married, then you might be planning on going back to your former name once the divorce is final. In some divorce petitions, a provision allows you to request that your last name be changed back to the former. The judge can issue a name change order in the final divorce judgment. 

Get Help Now From the Best Online Divorce Services

No doubt, legally changing your name in California, whether for marriage or while amid a grueling divorce, can be an intimidating process. 

With over 20 years of legal experience at Valley Divorce Services, our legal document assistants (LDAs) provide self-representing litigants with legal documentation assistance. We can perform the following legal document services for you in connection with a legal matter in which you are representing yourself:

  • We can type or otherwise complete, as you specifically direct, legal documents that you have selected;
  • We can provide you general published factual legal information that has been written or approved by an attorney to help you represent yourself;
  • We can provide you published legal documents;
  • We can file and serve legal forms and documents as you specifically direct;
  • We can work in conjunction with limited-scope representation between lawyers and clients.

Request a free legal consultation today for more information on how we can help you plan for your future.