California Name Change Laws: What You Need to Know

Are you looking forward to changing your name in California? It is easy and not that complicated. However, you ought to read this. Any adult, child, or entire family can file for a name change. The process starts with a petition. You have to submit a Name Change Petition to a superior court in your area. It culminates with the Court Order. After you have changed your name, schools, private organizations, and financial institutions will ask for a copy of the Court Order to bring about the changes in all documents.

Name Change

Various Categories of Name Changes Decoded

You can change your last name legally in California. It is the simplest one. Moreover, it is more common than changing other parts of the name. Marriages and divorces affect people’s last names, more often than others. You can head to a Civil Court, to get your last name changed. You can change your last name to the one before marriage or to a name that your current spouse has. Just write the new name on the new marriage license and you are done.

If you want to change your first name or middle name, you have to file a petition for a Change of Name. The process is almost the same. Moreover, the same legalities are involved in either case.

The Name Change Process in California

There is a standard process to get your name changed in California. Read on, to learn more about the steps.

  • Prepare and file a petition – You have to fill out the form and file the petition in the correct court. The California Judicial Council forms are the primary means to do so. However, certain counties require some additional forms to be filled. The standard forms are a civil case cover sheet, petition for change of name, order to show cause, proof of service of the order to show cause, and the decree changing the name, to name a few.
Name Change

You can download the file petition form here-

Civil case cover sheet (Cm-010) – You must fill out the civil case cover sheet form (Cm-010) first and attach it to all required forms. You can download the civil case cover sheet from here –

Order to show cause (NC-120) – You must fill out the order of show cause form (NC-120) for the name change petition. You can download this form here –

Proof of service of order to show clause (NC-121) – This form (NC-121) is used only when some child names change through petition. You can fill out and download this form here –

Decree changing name (NC-130) – You must bring this form (NC-130) when the court hearing for proof of publication. You can fill out and download this form here –

You also need an extra form. It checks your criminal history in nine counties. Some counties will also make you file a Civil Cover Sheet Addendum. Additionally, the courts may change their forms occasionally. You have to use the most current ones for the process.  After you are done with the compilation of the forms, file them in a Superior Court in your area. Each court charges a filing fee that you need to pay. Thereafter, you get a case number and a hearing date is communicated to you.  

Advertise your name change – This is the second step after you attend the hearing and have to advertise the hearing. Choose a newspaper with good circulation for the same. The advertisement runs four times consecutively. The judge usually checks the proof of publication, before approving the petition. If you are a parent petitioning, for your child, without the consent of another parent, there is another step. You have to send a legal notice to the non-consenting parent.

Approval – After your petition is granted by a judge, you get a certified copy of the same. After receiving the Certified Decree Changing Name, you can circulate copies of the same to the respective authorities. The name on your ID cards and other records will be changed thereafter.

Name Change

Adult Name Change (no marriage or divorce)

Any adult in California who has not been married or divorced can change their name through the above file of the petition name change process.

Name Change After Marriage

To have your last name changed, you will need to contact the Social Security Administration and a local California DMV to get help with the name change. However, it is possible that they won’t be able to help because your license or marriage certificate doesn’t reflect the correct new last name. You may need to go through standard adult name change procedures for your new last name to become legal.

Name Change After Divorce

If you are divorcing and your name is being changed to something other than the name that you used before your marriage, you will need to complete a standard filing of a Petition for Change of Name.

If you and your spouse have divorced in California, contact a court clerk to how to change your name. He or she will be able to provide you with all the information you need about your case including your divorce number (case number), case name (names of both parties), and the date of order/judgment/filing. In addition, provide all of the necessary information to help him/her process the paperwork needed for restoration of former name after entry of judgment (including a self-addressed and stamped return envelope if submitted by mail).

Thus, the process of changing your name in California is easy. However, do keep in mind, that there is a time frame for each process. Therefore, you might need to give at least 2-6 months to get your name changed in California. The period mentioned includes the preparation and submission of forms and fees, hearing date, approval, and change of all records. With a little help, it can come down to 3 months or less. If you want to get your name changed, start now!

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