Name change lawyers in Texas

Texas seek changing their names for many reasons. Sometimes it is purely a vanity decision to change to a name they like better. Other times it is to better align their name with their identity. This includes changing last names of adopted children, wives who decide to change their name after a divorce, or changing a name as part of a gender transition. Adults can change their names on their own accord (as long as they do not have a felony history). Minors can change their name with the help of a legal guardian. Although the name change process is not extremely difficult it can be a confusing process. Hiring a Texas family law attorney to help you with a name change can make the process easier and ensure you reach the finish line.

How is a name changed in Texas after a divorce?

Often wives change their last name to their husband’s last name when they marry. When the marriage comes to an end, they often decide to return to their maiden name. Under the Texas Family Code, a spouse can return to the last, last name used before the marriage as part of the divorce proceeding. This may be a maiden name or a name acquired and kept after a prior marriage. If you want to change any other part of your name, or you want to use a different last name, then you will need to follow the normal name change process.

Changing your name as part of your divorce is convenient for several reasons. It avoids the longer process of a regular name change in Texas and additional filing fees. Often after a divorce spouses need to change credentials on accounts so including the name change as part of that process can save time with these post-divorce tasks. 

However, your divorce is not your only shot at a name change in Texas. If you opt to keep your married name but later decide to change to a prior last name, then you will follow the normal process for a name change.

Note that you do not have to change your name back in a divorce. Your spouse cannot take back the name and a judge cannot order you to change your name back. Sometimes wives prefer to keep the name. 

Changing your name in Texas

Under the Texas Family Code you can change your name by petitioning the court with the required petition and documentation. You can change as much of your name as you want to virtually anything you want. You can change, remove, or add to your name. 

The process to change your own name involves filing a petition with the appropriate court asking for the name change. The petition and supporting documentation must include:

  • Your current name
  • Requested new name
  • Reason you want to change your name
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Date of birth
  • Driver’s license issuing state and number
  • Confirmation whether you have felony convictions in your history
  • Fingerprint card
After filing the petition the court will conduct a criminal background check to confirm an absence of felony convictions. After the background check clears you can appear at a brief hearing to confirm the details and ask the court to sign an order changing your name. 

Changing a minor child's name

Minor children can also obtain a name change in Texas although they cannot request a name change on their own. A legal guardian must request the name change for them. Often this occurs as part of an adoption to change a last name to the name of the adoptive parents. Minor children can obtain a name change for other reasons as well.

For a minor, the judge must also find that the reason for the name change is in the best interests of the child. If the judge does not agree, then the minor must wait to become an adult (or emancipated) to request the name change. 

Name change proceedings for minors can become more complex when the parents do not agree on the name change. One parent or guardian can oppose a name change by another parent or guardian. If that happens, then the court must hold a hearing to decide what is in the child’s best interests. 

What to do after you change your name

After you change your legal name you need to change your name on legal and financial documents. Failing to change your name can create problems for you down the road. It is easiest to take care of these tasks while you have all of the documentation available and it is on your mind. Some places you will need to update your name:

  • Social Security Administration
  • The DMV of the state that issued your driver’s license
  • Voter registration
  • Any government office which provides you or your family public benefits
  • Veterans Affairs (if a veteran)
  • Bank and investment accounts
  • Mortgage lenders
  • Insurance policies
  • Home title or deed
  • HSA and FSA accounts
  • Passport
  • Credit cards and bank loans
  • Utility bills
  • Retirement plans
  • Student loans
  • Car loans
  • Your job and payroll vendors

Updating your name with some companies can be as simple as completing a form, updating online, or calling customer service. Some institutions, especially government offices, may need a copy of the name change order or specific forms. 

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