How to Legally Change the Spelling of Your Name

By Tom Streissguth

Legally changing the spelling of your name requires the same steps as changing to a new name; you must file the appropriate forms in the court with jurisdiction over your place of residence. This usually means a county civil court, sometimes also known as a circuit court or district court. For most people with no criminal background, a legal name change is a fairly simple and straightforward process.

Step 1

Obtain an official application for name change from the clerk of court in the county in which you live. Many states enforce both residency and age requirements on anyone seeking a legal change of spelling or name. In the state of Minnesota, for example, you must be 18 years of age and a resident of the state for at least six months. In all states, a parent or legal guardian must file the application on behalf of a minor.

Step 2

Fill out the form, which will ask for the correct and complete spelling of your current legal name and the new spelling for which you are applying. Sign your current name and take any required oath before a notary public. If this will also change the spelling of your spouse's or children's names, they must also sign. You may also have to submit to a background and criminal check. Many states require that anyone with a criminal conviction attempting to change his name must report the change to the prosecuting authority, which can object to the change.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More

Step 3

Fill out a proposed Order that a judge or authorized clerk will sign to make your new spelling legal. Do not mark or fill in any information in spaces designated for the clerk or judge to complete and sign.

Step 4

Bring the form to the clerk of court and pay the filing fee. There may also be copying and certifying fees to pay. You may be able to file the application "in forma pauperis," meaning you are destitute and request that the court waive the fee. The clerk will date-stamp and file the application and enter it into the public record. The court will schedule a hearing that you must attend along with anyone else -- a spouse or children, for example -- affected by the spelling change.

Step 5

Attend the scheduled hearing, at which you will appear before a judge or hearing officer. Take an oath as to your identity, explain the reason for the new spelling of your name and answer any questions from the bench. The judge or hearing officer will then sign the proposed Order and enter it into the record. You may obtain certified copies of the Order from the clerk.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More
How to Legally Change a Name in Texas



Related articles

How to Change Your Last Name in the State of Alabama

To apply for a name change in Alabama, you must file a verified petition in your county of residence; the local probate court holds jurisdiction over name changes. Although the procedure is similar throughout the state, counties have varying requirements as to the documents you need to supply.

How to Change a Child's Last Name in Virginia

A parent can change the name of her child in Virginia through the Virginia circuit court of the county the child resides in. If both parents agree to the name change, the process is relatively easily and requires a signed application and a visit to the circuit court. The parents do not have to state the reason for changing the child's name on the application, but the name change must be in the child's best interests under Virginia law.

How to Change Your Legal Name in New Jersey

Some people are lucky enough to love the name they are given at birth. But if you aren't one of them, a name change may be in order. If you live in New Jersey, the process of changing your legal name does not require an attorney. The forms are available online from the New Jersey Judiciary as a packet and include detailed procedural instructions for completing the forms, filing them with the court and paying the required filing fee.

Doing the right thing has never been easier.

Related articles

How to Change Your First Name Legally

The process for legally changing your first name is the same as for legally changing your last name. It differs ...

Changing a Child's Name in Ohio

The state of Ohio allows you to petition for a change of legal name for a minor child. The process involves the filing ...

Steps to Legally Change Your Name

Applying to change your name is a fairly straightforward process, with rules and procedures set down by state law and ...

How to File for Child Custody in California

Parental custody rights and procedures vary from state to state. In California, family courts focus on the health, ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED