Last Updated on September 28, 2023 by Turner Thornton
Want to change your name or the name of your child? In this post, our family law attorneys explore the three most common types of name changes in Texas and explain the process for each. We also examine why a judge may reject a name change.
Common Reasons for a Name Change
There are three main reasons people seek name changes in Texas:
- A woman wants to return to her maiden name after divorce
- A parent wants to change their child’s name, often during a paternity or adoption case
- An adult doesn’t want to use their birth name
If you want to change your name, the attorneys at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group can help you through the process and ensure all the I’s are dotted, and T’s are crossed. Watch this video by Senior Associate Kristen Carr for a quick overview regarding name changes in Texas.
How do you restore your maiden name after divorce in Fort Worth?
In Texas, you can't automatically restore your maiden name after divorce. You have to request it in a petition for divorce or in another filing during the divorce. It's also important to note that you can only change your name back to your maiden name during the divorce process - not to a new name.
Any time you change your last name, a court order is necessary. So, even though you can start the process before the divorce is final, your name change won't be official until the final decree of divorce. The decree will list the exact name you are changing to and can be used to obtain official identification documents such as a driver's license and social security cards.
If you decide to change your name after the divorce is settled, the process is a little different.
So, how do you legally change your name in Texas without a divorce?
In Texas, if you want to restore your maiden name months or years after your divorce is final, you must file an Original Petition for a Change of Name in your county of residence. You will be scheduled to appear before a judge, who must approve the request and sign a court order.
If you're changing your name to a new name altogether and you are at least 18 years old, you will also need to petition the courts for a name change. Your reasons for the change must be lawful, meaning you can't make the change in an attempt to avoid criminal prosecution or escape debts. You will be asked about your reasons for the change in court, which usually requires a "prove up" hearing in which you give the judge a short testimony about the reasons for the name change.
After a judge has granted the name change, you'll need to update your name with the appropriate agencies, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Social Security Administration, and the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
What information is required for adult name changes in Texas?
According to the Texas Family Code, a petition to change the name of an adult must be verified and include the following from the petitioner:
* the present name and place of residence of the petitioner;
* the full name requested for the petitioner;
* the reason the change in the name is requested;
* whether the petitioner has been the subject of a final felony conviction;
* a legible and complete set of the petitioner's fingerprints on a fingerprint card that is acceptable to the Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Why would a Texas judge deny your name change request?
The court must ensure anyone requesting a Texas name change isn't attempting to avoid creditors or is involved in something illegal before granting the change. Other reasons a judge could deny your request include the following:
* The new name is considered vulgar by a judge
* You have a warrant out for your arrest
* You have a felony conviction (Unless proof of a pardon is shown, or you were released from prison or completed probation at least two years prior, and the proof is shown that the same name requested is used in your criminal records.)
* You are required to register as a sex offender (unless you show proof you've notified local law officials or your name change request.)
How do you change a child's name in Texas?
If you're seeking to change a child's name or give the child the surname of their father if it was not done at birth, it will require a court order. These requests can be included in a petition during an adoption, paternity case, or other family matter.
If the name change of a child is outside one of these litigation pleadings, it will be its own cause of action. The process is straightforward if both parents or legal guardians agree to the name change. Children aged 10 or older must provide written consent to the change.
If there are objections to the request by a parent or guardian, the parent requesting the change must present compelling reasons to the court why the name change is in the child's best interest. The judge will weigh what's in the best interest of the child when ruling in such a case. Obstacles such as this are why having the counsel of an experienced Family Law attorney is vital during the process.
What steps should you take after you change your name in Texas?
After you change your name, it's important to change all your identification documents, including your social security number, driver's license, voter registration, passport, and banking information. You'll need a copy of the court-approved document as proof to make these changes.
How can transgendered adults change their name in Texas?
For a transgendered person requesting a name change during a divorce, including a first and last name, the options are similar but remain at the judge's discretion. Some judges in Texas may be open to granting a first and last name change within a divorce if the opposing spouse is not distressed and the trans person hasn't yet had a name change.
Want to Change Your Name? Call Varghese Summersett Family Law Group.
Changing your name is an important moment in your life. Varghese Summersett Family Law Group has extensive handling name changes in Tarrant County and can handle everything for you. Call 817-900-3220 to speak with a member of our team.