In California you have the legal right to change your name or gender. Our office can help you legally change your name or your gender.
Most government agencies currently require a court order as official proof of a name or gender change. Government regulations fight against fraud, such as identity theft, and are making it almost impossible to change your name or gender without a court order.
There are several ways to change your name:
1. Filing a Petition for a Change of Name. This is the most common way.
2. If you are getting divorced and want to change your name to your maiden name, you can usually do that in your divorce case.
3. If you are already divorced (in California only) and did not change your name in your divorce, you can do it at a later time.
If you recently got married and want to change your last name to your spouse's last name, you may not have to go to court. Go to your local DMV office and your social security office, and ask them whether you can change the name on your driver's license and social security card to your spouse's last name without a court order. Sometimes, they will change your name if you show them your marriage license or certificate and you will not have to go to court. However, it is possible they will tell you to get a court order, please be prepared for that.
If you have to file a Petition for Change of Name in court, the process can take up to 3 months. After you file your Petition for Change of Name, a hearing date at your local court will be scheduled for you between 6 and 12 weeks away. In some instances, a 4 week newspaper notice may be required to announce name change. After the hearing the court will give you a court order called a “decree” changing your name.
The judge may not agree to change your name if the judge finds that you are changing your name to commit fraud, or you are changing your name to hide from the law or the police or for some other illegal reason.
If you are on probation or parole, the judge may not agree to change your name unless your probation or parole officer is aware of your change of name and gives written consent. If you are incarcerated in a California state prison, the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has to give permission to the court to let you change your name. If you are incarcerated in federal prison, get permission from the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Once you have your court order changing your name you can use that court order to change your legal name on government-issued identification documents such as your driver’s license, passport, and social security card.
For a flat fee, our office can help you prepare all necessary documentation to change your name, we will file your case, have a hearing scheduled, and organize newspaper notice required by law. If you prefer, our attorney will accompany you for a court hearing or prepare you for your day in court should you wish to appear without an attorney. We highly recommend our immigration clients to consult an attorney before changing name or gender.