There are several reasons why an individual may want to change their name or the name of their child. Sometimes, the law allows a person to change their name simply because an event has occurred, such as upon a marriage, divorce, or adoption. A person may wish to change their name for a reason unrelated to those events. Some people wish to take the last name of a step-parent who raised them but did not formally adopt them. Some people wish to change their name to the nickname or alias they have always gone by. This is likely to become more common as states are requiring stricter forms of identity to obtain passports and driver’s licenses. If a person seeks to change their name without the occurrence of a marriage, divorce, or adoption, they must obtain a court order changing their name.
When a person wishes to change their name, or the name of their child, they must file a Petition for Change of Name with the Court. In order to file for a change of name for an adult, the person requesting to change their name must be seventeen years of age, and not currently in jail. The concern when anyone files to change their name is that they are doing so to be deceptive, so anyone filing for a change of name must not be required to register as a sex or violent offender, and must assert under oath that they are not trying to avoid creditors.
There are several protections established in the name change process to ensure an individual is not being deceptive and trying to hide their identity. If the person seeking to change their name has had a felony conviction in the last ten (10) years, they must provide notice of their request to change their name to the sheriff and prosecuting attorney of the county where they live, and to the Indiana central repository for criminal history information. The Court also requires that a person trying to change their name post in the local newspaper a notice of their hearing on their change of name, so that the public has notice about the pending name change. The notice must appear for three weeks, and the last publication must occur at least thirty days prior to the hearing on the request for change of name.
If a parent is seeking to change the name of their minor child, the process is the same as an adult, except for the requirement of consent from the parents. Typically, both parents must consent to their child’s name being changed. There are cases, however, where consent may not be required by one parent. This might happen if the parent has abandoned the child, or if the parent has committed a crime against the child. Notice must still be provided about a name change for a minor child.
With the Court’s Order changing your name, a birth certificate and new identification documenting your new name can be obtained.
If you have a question about legally changing your name, please contact Slotegraaf Niehoff PC.