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How can I legally change my name?

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There are a few ways that you can legally change your name, and any one can change their name; however there are a few restrictions to watch for.

You can change your name to your common law spouse’s last name by usage only, which means you just start using the name with no court action and at no cost to you for lawyers fees. However, in order for government agencies and private companies, such as banks, you will need an official court order that changes your name before they will accept it.

After a divorce, if you are changing back to your maiden name, you can usually just begin to use it. You will need to provide proof of your name change, such as a divorce decree and that should be enough. After a marriage, your marriage certificate is enough to warrant your name change. However, if you and your spouse are both taking on a new, different name for both of you, you will need to get a court order.

Regardless of how you change your name, either by court order or by simple usage, the most important portion of changing your name is telling others that you’ve taken a new name. It’s common procedure for all people to contact everyone and it may take some time, especially to contact businesses and other government agencies.

The steps of changing your name are:

Inform businesses and officials that you have changed your name. Ask them to change your name on their records.
Tell your family and friends that you’ve changed your name and to use your new one. It may take some time for those people closest to you to use your new name and some may even object to using it. You have to be both persistent and patient with family and friends.
Use your new name in school or at work. Introduce yourself by your new name to new people and businesses.

Changing your name doesn’t have to be a daunting procedure, even if you have to file for a court order. Changing your name does take patience, even if you don’t have to file with the courts. It’s not always easy though to have your old friends and close relatives to use your new name – it’s hard for them to associate your face with a new sound and in some cases they may fear that the person they know – the person who went by your old name – has somehow changed. It’s important that you are persistent with them, yet patient – it’s hard enough to get used to the concept and putting it into practice is a whole new ball game.

When you contact businesses, they may request a change of name certificate, a copy of your marriage certificate or a copy of the court order that changes your name. This is especially true for any government agency, and they won’t change your name on their records for simple use – you must have a court order.

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