How to Find Out If Someone Legally Changed Her Name

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

How to Find Out If Someone Legally Changed Her Name

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

Looking for someone who you suspect has changed their name? There are several search tools and strategies you can use to locate them. It helps if you know or find out the following information before starting the search process: where the name change may have taken place, the person's date of birth, social security number, former address, current and/or former employer, and relatives or known associates. This information can help pave the way when using a few techniques listed below.

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1. Do some internet research.

As a preliminary step, search the web and social media for the individual you are seeking. You may find them this way without having to invest much time or money.

Even if you can't find their current location, try to at least locate their last known address, phone number, and city. Use this information to perform more detailed searches with online search engines such as people locators.

Facebook is a very helpful platform when searching for a person. People often list their maiden or former names on their profiles. Check mutual friends' profiles for the individual's first name, too, and see if you come up with any matches.

2. Check with the county courthouse.

An individual can easily change their name because of marriage, divorce, or any other reason, as long as it's not unlawful for fraudulent. Unless the record was sealed, there will be a public record of any official name change, but that doesn't mean it's an easy find.

First, you need to identify the county or counties where the person may have resided when they changed their name. Take your best guess based on what you know. For example, start with the county of their last known mailing address.

Next, check with the clerk of court in the county or counties on which you've decided. Many counties have online systems that you can search for records, but some of these systems do not include very old records. Other counties don't have an online search system at all. In the case that there's no online option available, you need to search the records in person or pay a clerk to search for you, depending on what options are available in the county.

If the change occurred as part of a marriage or divorce, the record will likely be with the marriage or divorce case. A name change in connection with a marriage should appear on the marriage certificate, and a name change in connection with a divorce should appear on the divorce decree. If the change was not related to a marriage or divorce, there should be a separate record of a request for a name change.

3. Hire a private investigator or pay for an online service.

In the event that your initial search efforts are unsuccessful, hire an investigative service. This costs money, but it's your best option when someone is particularly difficult to locate. For example, if the individual never legally changed their name and merely started using a new name without going through the court system, there won't be any public court records.

However you approach your search, be patient. It takes time and a few tries to figure out whether someone has changed their name, but with a little creativity and perseverance, nothing is impossible.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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