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When can I legally change my name?

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2021 | Family Law

If you are over 16 and living in North Carolina, there are a number of situations when you can legally change your name. The most straightforward is when you are getting a divorce and plan to return to the name you had before the marriage.

If you are interested in returning to your maiden name or pre-marriage name, you can include a request in your divorce complaint. The name change can be ordered as part of your divorce judgment.

You can also file an application to change your name with the clerk of the court in your county. This requires you to be an actual resident of the county and have no outstanding tax or child support obligations. There is a $10 fee associated with this process.

In Forsyth County, you need these documents to change your legal name:

  • Notice of name change (two copies)
  • Certified petition for legal name change signed in the presence of a notary public and containing:
  • Your true name
  • The county of your birth
  • Your date of birth
  • Your parents’ full names as shown on the birth certificate
  • The name you wish to adopt
  • The reason you desire the name change
  • Details of any previous name change
  • A sworn statement that you are a resident of Forsyth County and have no outstanding tax or child support obligations
  • Two affidavits of character from other Forsyth County residents
  • A certified, true copy of your birth certificate or, in some cases, citizenship documents
  • Fingerprint cards and a state and federal criminal record check
  • A proposed order for the name change

You will present these documents, along with a $120.00 filing fee, to the clerk of court. Then, after your intention to change your name has been posted for 10 days, you will contact the court for an appointment for a hearing. These documents must be typewritten or neatly handwritten.

While there is no requirement that you have an experienced family law attorney prepare the documents, it is a good idea to have attorney prepare your petition and documents. An attorney can review your local laws and procedures as well as restrictions relating to your name change. They can also ensure not only that all proper government agencies are notified, but can also review your petition documents before you file them with the court.