What Does a Name Change Hearing Consist of in Civil Court?

By Teo Spengler

Your given name is selected by your parents but reflects on the person who bears it: you. All states recognize the right of an individual to change her name for almost any reason, yet most seek to eliminate applicants with fraudulent motives or those whose proposed new names could cause problems for others. A name change hearing in civil court is the judge's opportunity to weigh these factors by asking questions directly of the name-change applicant.

Name Change

The process of altering your name legally begins with an application or petition. State rules and procedures regarding name changes differ somewhat, but most require some explanation of your motive for the name change, as well as a description of any criminal record you might have. Often the name change petition must be published in a newspaper or otherwise made known to the public so interested parties receive notice. A court hearing is the final step in the name-change process.


When you file a petition or application to change your name, the court clerk assigns you a hearing date and time. You must appear in court on that date and time to answer the judge's questions about your name change. When you provide public notice of your request for a name change, you also give notice of the date and time of the hearing so that anyone objecting to the change can appear and offer testimony.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More


At the name-change hearing, the court is likely to ask you questions to make sure your name change is appropriate and consistent with policy in your state. No two states have identical name change statutes, but many jurisdictions put the same general restrictions on name changes. No name change is permitted if the court finds that the applicant's purpose is to defraud creditors or commit crime, and evidence of past criminal convictions will weigh against an applicant. If you have a criminal record, the court may ask questions at the hearing to determine your true intent. Use of celebrity names are also restricted. For example, if you seek to change your name to Michelle Obama or Elvis Presley, you will need to offer convincing personal reasons unrelated to the celebrity.


The name change hearing is an opportunity for people objecting to the change to present their positions to the court. The vast majority of name change hearings pass without any objections whatsoever, but occasionally problems arise. For example, if you are divorced and seeking to change the last name of your minor child to your own or that of a new stepparent, your ex-spouse may well contest the action. Likewise, if you ask the court to allow you to assume the last name of an ex-spouse or the father of your children after a split-up, that person may appear and object. The court will hear the objections and all other testimony before it makes its ruling. Sometimes the judge won't decide whether to grant your name change during the hearing but subsequently mails the decision and order.

Get help changing your legal name. Learn More
Filing an Objection to a Name Change in Court



Related articles

How Old Do You Have to Be to Change Your Name in NYS?

Name changes can be pursued for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are requested as part of an existing legal proceeding, such as a divorce or adoption. In other cases, name changes are brought as independent actions. In New York state, adults over 18 may petition the court for a name change, and minors may do so with the consent of a parent or guardian. Understanding how the court review process differs for adults and minors will shed some light on the name change process in New York state.

Name Change Guidelines in VA

If you want to legally change your name as a result of marriage, divorce, adoption or simply to free yourself of a name that is difficult to pronounce, you must follow certain procedures to make the change in Virginia. The forms and procedures may vary slightly depending upon the reason for the change and whether you are an adult or minor.

Florida Divorce Law for Change of Venue

Florida's laws of civil procedure address change of venue. These laws pertain to civil cases, including divorce cases. Whichever spouse files for divorce first may file in the county where the spouse resides or in the county where the couple last lived together. The spouse who files the initial action is known as the "petitioner," and the spouse on the receiving end of the divorce action is called a "respondent."

Doing the right thing has never been easier. Name Change

Related articles

How to Change a Kid's Last Name

Changing a child's last name is often done as part of another matter, such as a paternity or adoption proceeding. ...

Can You Change Your Name if You Have a Criminal Record?

State laws govern legal name changes. You must file a petition to change your name in a civil court that has ...

Got Married & Want to Change Stepchild's Name in Illinois

Blended families that unite stepparents and stepchildren are fairly common. In most cases, stepchildren and their ...

Reasons Not to Grant a Legal Name Change

In the United States, people have the right to go by the names they choose. However, for a name change to be legally ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED