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How Can I Change My First or Last Name in California?

While we are all given a name at birth, that name does not always stay with us for life. Whether you’re getting married, ending a marriage, or trying to protect your family from harm, there are always legitimate reasons to change your name. How can you legally change your name if you live in Los Angeles? The answer will depend on why you want to make the change.

Changing Your Last Name For Marriage

Getting married is an exciting time in your life. You are getting ready to merge two lives into one and begin a journey with the person you love. One tradition is for one spouse to take the last name of the other spouse. How does this happen?

You’ll need to follow three simple steps in order to change your name after you get married:

  1. Get a copy of your marriage certificate. This is proof that you are legally married.
  2. Notify Social Security. Take your marriage certificate to your local Social Security office and complete Form SS-5. This is an application for a new Social Security Card which will officially reflect your new name.
  3. Get a new driver’s license. Your name change won’t be complete until you’ve notified the DMV and obtained a new license.

Changing Your Last Name Because of Divorce

Sometimes marriages don’t last. If you took your spouse’s last name, you may want to make a change after getting divorced. The process for getting your old surname back is a little bit more involved.

  1. Contact the Court. After your divorce is finalized, notify the Clerk that you’re interested in changing your last name. You’ll have to supply details about your marriage and divorce, as well as a copy of the signed Notice of Entry of Judgment.
  2. Complete Required Paperwork. The court cannot approve your request to change your name until you have completed the Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order [Form FL-395].
  3. Get New Documents. Once the court has approved your name change you must go through the process of getting all new documentation. At the very least, this will require trips to the Social Security Office and DMV. If you have a passport, you’ll also have to apply for a new one.

Changing Your Name First Name

Name changes related to marriage generally involve a person’s last name. In California, you can also ask a court to approve a change to your first name. Why would someone want to change his or her first name? There are a few potential reasons:

  1. Transitioning to a new gender
  2. Hiding from domestic abusers, or
  3. Dislike of current name.

Here’s how to change your first name in California:

  1. Start the legal process. File a petition with your local court requesting the change.
  2. Complete and File All Required Forms.
  3. Publish Notice of Name Change. In most cases, you will have to publish a notice that you are changing your name. You do not have to publish the change if you have legitimate safety concerns.
  4. Court Hearing. Step in front of a judge and explain why you want to change your name. You’ll also have to provide proof that the change was published (if required).

Who Should I Notify Once I Change My Name?

If you’re changing your name you’ll want to make sure that you notify anyone who needs to be kept up-to-date. Who you choose to notify may depend on why you’re making the change. For example, a recently-married spouse will probably not have an issue disclosing the change to anyone. A person who changes a name for safety reasons, however, may want to be more careful about who is notified.

Parties that should be made aware of name changes include:

  • Government agencies
  • Employers
  • Banks
  • Schools
  • Lenders
  • Utility companies, and
  • Credit card companies.

Get Help Changing Your Name in Los Angeles

Are you thinking about changing your name due to a recent change in your life? If you have any questions or need assistance, do not hesitate to contact the Los Angeles family law attorneys at Berenji & Associates. We offer a free consultation and can help you understand the steps you need to take to change your name. If your case is complicated, we can help you navigate the legal process successfully. Call today to learn more.