People may want to legally change their names for a variety of reasons. Someone may simply dislike the name their parents gave them or feel that it’s too hard to pronounce or doesn’t fit their life goals. Parents who adopt children or get married after having kids may want to change their child’s last name to match theirs. Individuals who don’t identify with the gender associated with their name may wish to change it.
In most cases, Indiana law allows anyone age 18 or older to legally change their name. Whether you want to change your name after a divorce or have another reason for making this transition, a family law attorney may be able to help.
Find out more about changing your name in Indiana below.
A Legal Name Change After Marriage
A common reason for name changes is marriage. Many women take their husband’s last name or want to hyphenate their last name with their spouse’s. A name change following a marriage does not require a court order. This is because the marriage certificate documents the marriage and provides the legal standing you need to make the change.
In the case of a name change after marriage, you would:
- Get certified copies of your marriage certificate.
- Apply for a new Social Security card with the new name using that certificate..
- Use the new Social Security card and your marriage certificate to change your name on your driver’s license or state-issued ID.
- Use your updated ID to change your name on your passport, bank accounts, and anywhere else you prefer, including with your employer.
How to Change Your Name Legally in Indiana Not Related to Marriage
If you want to change your name legally outside of a marriage scenario, you must file a petition for name change and follow the steps required under law to get a court order for your name change. Those steps include the following:
- Filing the petition. You must file a petition asking for a court-ordered name change with the clerk of court in your jurisdiction.
- Receive notice from the court. After you file the petition, the court will schedule a hearing on the matter. It will send you a written notice of this hearing with a case number, date, and time.
- Publish notice of your intent for a name change. You must publish public notice that you intend to change your name legally. The notice must appear in a newspaper in your county; if your county doesn’t have a newspaper, you have to publish in the newspaper nearest you. This notice must appear three times—once a week for three consecutive weeks. The final publication of the notice must occur 30 days or more before your hearing is scheduled.
- Notify the court you complied. You must complete a form providing proof to the court that you complied with the three-week notification requirement.
- Receive your order for a name change. In most cases, once you comply with these requirements, the court grants your order for a name change.
Once you have the order for a name change, you can use it to request an updated Social Security card, driver’s license, and passport—just as you would with a marriage certificate. Then you can change your name on bank accounts or with your employer.
What If You’re Concerned About Your Safety?
In some cases, publishing your intent to legally change your name in a local newspaper may be contradictory to your reasons for seeking a name change in the first place. For example, suppose you’re changing your name to help get away from an abusive situation or you are transgender and feel threatened by bullies or family members. In these cases, you may not want to broadcast your intentions.
It is possible in some instances to get a judge to allow you to keep your name change intentions somewhat private by waiving the newspaper notice requirement. If you’re dealing with a situation of this type, consider consulting with a family law attorney to help you make your case for privacy.
When Can’t You Change Your Name in Indiana?
Courts generally will not allow a legal name change if it appears you’re taking this step to avoid criminal charges or debt. Individuals incarcerated in prison can not legally change their names, and anyone with a felony conviction on their record in the past decade may have to take additional notification steps to change their name.
Do You Have to Legally Change Your Name to Go By Something Else?
Technically, you don’t have to legally change your name to go by a nickname or even a different name you prefer. However, the name you go by will not match your Social Security card or potentially other forms of legal ID.
That also means your legal name may be on other documents or accounts, which may not be preferable or convenient.
When You Might Want to Work With a Family Law Attorney
If your name change request has anything to do with adoption or divorce, a family law attorney can help you sort out those details as well as many other factors that might be relevant to your case. Contact the Law Office of Deidra N. Haynes to find out how we can help.