When it comes to changing one’s name, most people’s thoughts immediately go to marriage – and by extension, divorce. While these are pretty common reasons for obtaining name changes, they are, by no means, the only ones. Further, instead of one spouse simply adopting the other’s name upon marriage, the idea of sharing a name with marriage has taken some surprising twists and turns over the years that include creating entirely new names (sometimes a combination of both spouses’ former names) that both spouses adopt upon marriage. In the end, there are a variety of essential reasons (based on family law) for pursuing a legal name change.
Common Reasons for Name Changes
The most-basic reasons for obtaining a legal name change include all of the following:
Divorce (after a name change with marriage)
Adoption of a child
There are also personal reasons for changing one’s name, including for professional purposes or in reaction to a name that harbors negative connotations for the person who bears it.
There Are Restrictions Involved
The courts will generally approve name changes for reasons that are deemed legitimate. If, however, the change is predicated on fraudulence or the avoidance of liability (or is suspected of being such), the courts will deny the request. Name changes that are based on any of the following are restricted:
A name change that is based on avoiding debt
A name change that is based on avoiding family court orders, such as child or spousal support
A name change that includes offensive words or content (profanity or slurs, for example)
When it comes to legal name changes, the court is looking for a change that benefits the person requesting the change, and that benefits the public at large.
An Adult Seeking a Name Change
The Texas Family Code governs name changes and outlines who may file. For a name change to be valid in the eyes of the law, the court must sign an Order of Change of Name, which contains the same information as your initial petition for a name change, but that goes a step further by stating how the change in question is in the best interest of both you (the petitioner) and the public.
What You Must Provide
In order to change your name legally, you must provide comprehensive information about yourself that – in addition to the basics – includes all of the following:
Whether you have been convicted of a felony
Whether you are subject to the sex offender registry
Any ID numbers in a state or federal criminal history record system
A complete set of fingerprints
In other words, the state of Texas takes legal name changes very seriously.