How to Legally Change the Spelling of Your Name

By Jennifer Kiesewetter, J.D.

How to Legally Change the Spelling of Your Name

By Jennifer Kiesewetter, J.D.

If you want to legally change the spelling of your name, you must follow the process established in your state. After you file the appropriate forms and your documents are approved by a judge, a new name is all yours. This is when the work really begins. The final step is to ensure other important legal documents—like your social security card, passport, and driver's license—reflect the change.

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Let's examine the necessary steps for legally changing the spelling of your name.

1. Complete the application or petition.

Visit your local county clerk's office or court and obtain an application form to petition for a name change. By completing this application, you're requesting that the court legally alter the spelling of your name to the spelling reflected on the form.

Typically, you can change your name, or the spelling of your name, to whatever you desire. However, some exceptions exist. For example, you can't change your name to escape paying your debts or avoid arrest. Additionally, you can't create a name that's confusing by using symbols and numbers instead of letters. To avoid running afoul of these limitations, be sure to research your state's rules.

2. File the court order.

Complete a court order form reflecting your new name. You may be required to pay the court a filing fee once you finish this paperwork.

Your local court may require additional steps such as the publication of the proposed name change in a local newspaper. Check with your local county clerk's office to confirm what rules apply.

3. Obtain a signed court order.

Once you have completed your paperwork and any other requirements, the judge reviews your documents. You'll appear in front of the judge and answer any questions. If your forms are complete and you've satisfied your state's rules, then the judge grants your name change.

4. Notify people of your new name.

Once you receive your signed court order, you need to let people know about your new name. Change the spelling of your name with the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and any other relevant government offices. Notify your employer, your children's school, and your financial institutions of the new spelling. Be sure to change any legal documents such as insurance policies, wills, and mortgage documents. Be sure to have copies of your court order so you can produce proof of your name change as required.

Although changing the spelling of your name is straightforward, you may have questions about your state's requirements and what legal documents need to be amended to reflect your new name. You should consult with an attorney or use an online service provider to assist you with your name change. By receiving additional guidance, you can ensure your change in name is done legally. You can also learn more about the many ways this decision might impact you and your family.

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.