Georgia residents can change their legal name with a petition filed in their local superior court. State law also requires publication of the petition, as well as a final hearing, at which the court may hear and decide on any objections to the name change. The process takes 30 to 60 days in most cases and entails the preparation of a simple legal document and the payment of court fees.
Obtain a petition for name change form from the clerk of the superior court in the county where you live. You may also download the form from a website that offers blank legal forms and templates for use. Ensure that the form you’re using is current and fully conforms with state law.
Fill in the form with your full current legal name, as well as address, phone and other contact information as required. List on the form or petition the reason for your change of name. You must also sign and verify the petition by swearing – before a notary or court clerk -- that the facts you’ve stated in the form are true to the best of your knowledge. Georgia law also requires that you provide a certified copy of your birth certificate along with the name-change petition.
File your petition in superior court in the county in which you reside, and pay any filing fee as well as a publication fee set by the court. The clerk will order publication of a notice regarding the name change in the county's official legal organ -- in most cases, a local newspaper. State law requires that the initial publication take place within seven days of filing the petition; the notice must appear once a week for four weeks. The notice must have your full legal name, the name as it will be changed, the court in which you filed the name-change petition, and the date on which the petition was filed.
Provide proof of publication to the clerk, using copies of the ad and publication information (including dates) provided to you by the newspaper. The clerk will issue an Order Perfecting Service, which formally approves the publication. After you receive a copy of this order, contact the clerk to schedule a hearing, which must take place at least 30 days after the initial filing. Other parties have the right to object to the name change up to seven days after the final publication of your name-change notice, and to be notified of the court hearing, at which they may explain their objections to the superior court judge.
Attend the scheduled court hearing. If there are no objections to the petition for name change, the judge will sign a final order in the matter. You must file this order with the court clerk, who will provide you with a certificate of legal name change upon payment of a fee. The certificate will set out the old and new names, the court that issued the decision and the date of the court hearing, which in most cases will be the effective legal date of the name change.