Q. I want to change my last name? Is that possible?
A. Yes. It is actually a very simple process in getting your last name changed. You can also request for your minor child(ren)’s name to be changed, as well.
Q. Do I just go to the social security office?
A. You can only go to the social security office if you already have a court record for your name to be changed. For example, if you were recently married and you have a marriage license. You can take that and show it. Another example would be if you were recently divorced and within your final divorce decree your last name has been restored to your maiden name. Also, if your minor child’s name was restored in a termination order or after a court has established paternity, then you can take in that court order to have his or her name changed.
Q. So what if I do not have any court order changing my name or my child’s name, but I still want it changed? Can I just go to the office and tell them to change it?
A. No. They will not change your name without a court order. You must have one in order for it to be changed.
Q. What if I was not recently divorced or married, or what if my child has not been involved in any court cases? How am I supposed to get a court order?
A. Good question. The civil courts allow for any person to file a document requesting a name change. If approved by the court, you will be granted a name change on a court order that you can use to have your name or your child’s name changed.
Q. What is this document that I need to file, and where do I file it?
A. The document is titled “Application for Change of Name.” There are different ones for someone requesting a name change for him or herself with or without children, as well as a document if you are requesting the name change for your minor child.
The document falls under a civil case and can be filed in any of the Maricopa County Superior Court locations.
Q. Are there requirements I must meet in order to file an Application for Change of Name?
A. Yes. If you are filing for a name change for yourself, you must be a resident of Maricopa County, you must be 18 years or older, you must inform the court if you have been convicted of a felony and if those offenses involved false statements or misrepresentation, you understand that changing your name will not release you from any obligations or liabilities, and you are not changing your name to that of another person to commit a crime or offense involving fraud or misrepresentation of identity. Also keep in mind that you should not change your name to something offensive or confusing.
If you want to change the name of your child, you must make sure that the child is under 18 years, resides in Maricopa County, and you are that child’s parent or guardian. By filing the application for name change, you are not able to add a father’s name to the birth certificate or establish paternity.
Q. After I file for the name change, do I have to let anyone know I am doing this?
A. Yes. If you are filing for a name change for yourself and you are not married you must provide notice to any interested party. If you are married, you must get a consent form from your spouse signed and notarized or hand deliver to your spouse or send the application by certified mail. If your spouse does not agree to your name change, they will have a chance to object to it.
If you are requesting for your name to be changed and have minor children, you must comply with the same requirements above. In addition to those requirements, you must notify the other parent, even if you are divorced.
If you are requesting a name change for your minor child, you must notify any interested party. You must also notify the other parent. If the parent agrees, they must complete a consent form that is signed and notarized. If they do not agree, they will have the opportunity to object at the hearing. If the other parent’s rights have been terminated, they do not need to be notified.
Q. Do I have to go to a hearing for the name change? What does the hearing entail?
A. You will be required to attend a “name change hearing.” There will be multiple people present at this hearing requesting their own name changes. Before the hearing starts the judge’s assistant will call you one by one to make sure you have brought all of the correct documentation with you. After that has been approved, you will wait for the judge to call your name. The judge will ask you a series of questions depending on what kind of name change you are requesting. If the judge feels that any interested party has been notified and there are not any objections, you will likely be awarded the name change. You will then receive your order from the assistant.
Q. What do I need to bring to the hearing?
A. If you are requesting a name change for your child, make sure you bring a notarized consent form from the other parent or sufficient proof that the other parent was served with the application and notice of the hearing date. If that parent’s rights were terminated, make sure to bring the termination paperwork. Bring any prior name change orders, proof of naturalization or resident alien status, if applicable, a copy of the child’s birth certificate, adoption decree or guardianship proof if applicable, your photo identification, a clerk stamped copy of al filed documents, and two copies of the order changing the name for the judge to sign. If the child is over 14, make sure you bring notarized consent for the child or have them attend the hearing.
If the name change is for yourself, make sure you bring your birth certificate, any copies of a divorce decree, any copies of orders of protection or injunctions against harassment in effect in addition to the orders and stamped copies of filed documents.
Q. After I receive my order, where do I go?
A. If you want the name changed on a birth certificate, you can go to the Office of Vital Records.