Texas Name Change Statute

By Holly Cameron

People change their names for a variety of reasons, particularly if their family circumstances alter. Texas statutes allow both adults and children to change their names for legitimate reasons if they follow the correct procedure. Chapter 45 of the Texas Family Code sets out the requirements. In general, a Texas court will agree to a name change if the change is in the interest or to the benefit of the petitioner and in the interest of the public.

Prohibited Names

You cannot change your name for fraudulent purposes; the procedural requirements set out in the Texas statutes aim to ensure that this does not happen. The court granting the name change has discretion and will not agree to change a name if the new name is obscene, offensive or is designed to mimic that of a celebrity.

Changing a Child's Name

According to Section 45.001 of the Texas Family Code, either a parent or a legal guardian may request a name change for a child by filing a petition with the district clerk of the county where the child lives. The petition should set out the child’s current name and the reason for the requested change and should be verified by a notary public. If the child is age 10 or older, he must also sign the petition. When considering whether to grant the name change, Section 45.004 states that the court must consider the best interests of the child.

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Changing an Adult's Name

Any adult may file a petition to change his name with the district clerk of the county where he resides. If you wish to apply for a change of name, you must set out in the petition your existing name, your proposed new name and the reason for the requested change. To comply with criminal laws, the petition should also include information relating to previous criminal convictions and a full set of your fingerprints. You may also have to supply further evidence of your identity such as Social Security number and driving license details. According to Section 45.103 of the Family Code, the court will agree to the name change if it is in your interest or to your benefit and also in the interests of the public. If you just got married, a marriage certificate is all you need to be issued a new Social Security Card. Separate rules apply to adults with previous criminal convictions.

Change of Name Upon Divorce

Women often want to change their names upon divorce and include this request in the divorce petition. Section 45.105 states that if the court granting the divorce agrees to the name change, the woman may then apply to the county court where she resides for a formal change of name certificate.

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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 recognized, a state court must approve it. The reasons for denying a name change can range from procedural errors to fraud. In addition, a judge has broad discretion in deciding whether to grant or deny a name change.

Filing an Objection to a Name Change in Court

People who decide to legally change their names may do so for love, personal preference, religious beliefs or various other reasons. State laws vary, but courts often require those seeking a legal name change to publish their intentions in a local newspaper. This gives others constructive notice and an opportunity to file an objection to the proposed change with the court.

How to Legally Change a Child's Last Name in Texas

The Texas Family Code contains the regulations that outline the conditions of changing the name of a minor in the state. Parents, legal guardians or managing conservators, who are court-appointed guardians, may request to alter a child's name for adoptions, custody proceedings and other reasons. Parents must file a petition in the county court where the child resides and pay filing fees.

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