There are many reasons you might want to change your name. Whether your decision is for personal or business reasons, most states allow you to change your name without the time and expense of getting a court order. The usage method of changing your name does not involve the courts or formal applications. Its limitation is that government agencies, such as the department of motor vehicles, will not change official records without a court order.
Select the name you want to use. You may select any name you wish, as long as you are not doing so to commit a crime, avoid criminal prosecution, avoid creditors, or intentionally mislead other people.
Use your new name. It is important that you consistently use the new name in all aspects of your business and social life. Notify your family, friends and employer of your new name and ask them to begin using it when addressing you.
Change your phone and other personal records to reflect your new name. Request that your telephone and other utility providers change their records to reflect your new name. Although most states allow you to change your name by usage, most government agencies will not change official records without a court order. Social Security, motor vehicles, Veteran’s Affairs, banks and schools usually require a court order or marriage certificate as proof of your new name.
Obtain a court order to change your name. Most states have simplified procedures and paperwork for changing your name through the courts. The forms are available from the courts or from online document providers. If you are a divorced woman, most divorce judgments and decrees of divorce authorize you to resume the use any prior surname (last name) you were known by prior to your marriage.