money·3 min read

Thinking of Changing Your Name? It'll Cost You

accessibility, name change costs
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
Jun 13, 2022

Sometimes big, happy life events bring big changes. Like a whole new name. Hi, wedding season. But marriage isn’t the only reason you might change your name. 

Why would I change my name?

There are lots of reasons why people opt to change their names. In some cases, it’s a matter of preference. As in, if you aren’t in love with the name your parents gave you, you have the option to change it.In other cases, a name might be changed for religious reasons. Or a fresh start after a big life change. Read: divorce or gender transitions.

How much does a name change cost?

Name change costs in general range from around $50 to over $500, depending on where you live.

How do I legally change my name?

The process can vary depending on the county you live in, but here’s a breakdown of the basics.

Grab your documentation.

If the name change is happening because you just got married, your marriage certificate is enough to prove you need a name change in most cases.If it’s for any other reason (besides divorce), you’ll have to file a Petition for Name Change. They’ll have one at your nearest courthouse.And don’t forget documents proving your current name and date of birth. Like your birth certificate.

Find a notary.

Don’t sign your petition unless you’re in front of a notary public. Hint: It’s usually not too hard to find one in a courthouse. 

Talk to the judge.

After you turn in your docs, your case will be assigned to a judge. You might be asked to go before the judge. Once it’s signed and approved, you can head to have the change published in a newspaper.

Can a name change be rejected?

The short answer: yes. Because it’s up to your local court. If a court thinks you’re changing your name to mislead others, your name change petition could be rejected. Think: requesting a name change to Walt Disney. It could also be rejected if your new name includes special characters or numerals, but there are workarounds (looking at you, Chad Ochocinco.) Again, it all depends on your location.

Should I get help from a pro?

There are third-party services that can take care of the name change process for you. Like MissNowMrs, where name change assistance will cost you between $39 and $70.  But if you have time to stop by your local Social Security office and DMV, you can save by going the DIY route. There are also organizations like Transsocial, to help you find pro bono assistance if you’re changing your name and gender. 

theSkimm

Name changes aren’t just for weddings. You can file a petition to change your name for almost any reason. But it’s up to your local court to decide if your new name is a go.

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