From early on in our life, we begin to understand that we have a name, but most of us don’t give much more thought to our name throughout the course of our life. There are however, names frequently being legally changed in the courts in California, and so much so, that procedures are in place for all types of name changes. While there are name change processes that may be more common than others, here we have compiled and list of the most common, and a description for each. After an order for a name change (Decree for Change of Name), is filed, that document can be given to major governmental agencies, such as California DMV and the Social Security Administration to receive new identification. Those new identifications and certificate/orders can further be taken to other institutions where a name change needs to be reflected. These could include banks, schools, employment offices, licensing agencies and more. Common name changes in California are as follows:

Name Change Due to Marriage: With so many marriages in California every year, one of the spouses will often change their last name after the marriage. This process is fairly simple as the marriage application allows for you to request the new name. After the marriage ceremony is completed and the license is processed with the County agency, a marriage certificate is produced indicating the spouse’s new name. This certificate is sufficient to have California DMV and Social Security Administration identifications updated.

Name Change after Divorce: In divorce cases, spouses who wish to restore their former name, the name change can be ordered in the divorce judgment file in the California family law courts. The standard family law divorce or legal separation judgment form in California (FL-180) has an option for restoring a former name. After the Judgment for divorce has been entered into the court, and if the request for name change was indicated, that judgment serves as a name change order. This process limits a spouse to restore their former name, not any other name of their choosing. Changing a name to anything other than a former name upon divorce is described below as a “Civil Name Change for Adult”. This Divorce Judgment is sufficient to have California DMV and Social Security Administration identifications updated.

Minor’s Name Change in Family Law Case: While not as common as name changes after marriage or divorce, the California family law courts can also make name change orders for minor children in certain family law cases. This could be paternity cases and adoptions. These cases are typically started to establish a biological parent’s relationship to a minor or establishing a new parental relationship. Both of these case types have options to request a name change for the minors involved, and if ordered in the Judgment, will be an order of the court for name change for the minor child(ren). This family law Judgment is sufficient to have California DMV and Social Security Administration identifications updated. Further it can be used to amend California birth certificates with the California Department of Vital Records.

Adult Adoption: When 2 adults file a request in the family law court for one to adopt the other, the proposed adoptee can have their name changed in the decree of adoption which can be used to have California DMV and Social Security Administration identifications updated. Further it can be used to amend California birth certificates with the California Department of Vital Records.

Civil Name Change for Adult: This type of name change can be ordered for most California residents, except for those who are under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Corrections or those who are required to register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290. A person simply wishes to change their name and whether it is first, middle, last, a combination of 2 or all 3, this process can usually get a “Decree for Change of Name” (name change order) in a petitioner’s hand in as little as 45 days, depending on the backlog of the civil court. This “Decree for Change of Name” is sufficient to have California DMV and Social Security Administration identifications updated and can be used to update a California birth certificate with the California Department of Vital Records.

Civil Name Change for Minor: Similar to the Civil Name Change for an Adult, this process is for parents who wish to legally change their children’s name. Both parents must petition the court or one parent has to be served with notice. Parents who do not know the whereabouts of the other parent have additional requirements to complete the process. In most cases where both parents are present and agree, the court can issue a decree within 45 days depending on the backlog of the civil court. This “Decree for Change of Name”is sufficient to have California DMV and Social Security Administration identifications updated. Further it can be used to amend California birth certificate with the California Department of Vital Records.

If you are looking at options for a name change, Just Document Preparation may be able to assist. We have been helping residents and their minor children change their names since 1996. We can complete all the required name change document to help you obtain a “Decree for Change of Name” (name change order). Learn more about our: Name Change Service.