WHAT IS THE PROCESS?
- Filing your case and setting your hearing date
- In some states, a person can change their name through what is known as "common usage" - by simply using the new name for a specified period of time. However, Florida is NOT a state that recognizes common usage name changes.
In order to legally change your name in Florida, you must file a case with the Circuit Court for the county in which you live. Contact the Clerk of Court for your county to find out where you need to file your name change case. Typically, you will file your case at the Clerk of Court's office, which is usually located in the county courthouse or a branch of the county courthouse. Often, you can locate this information in your local telephone directory.
- The petition (this begins your case)
A case begins by filing a petition with the court. A petition is a written request to the court to take some type of legal action (such as legally changing your name). The person who originally asks the court to take legal action is called the petitioner; you are the petitioner in your name change case.
To begin the process, print out the sample name change petition included in your Forms Package. You must complete the petition, filling in all of the blank spaces typing or writing in black ink.
At the top of the petition (in the heading), the form requires you to list the name of the petitioner. You should list your current legal name, not the new name you wish the court to accept, because at this stage your name change has not yet been granted. In the heading you must also list the judicial circuit, division and case number. The Clerk of Court's office can tell you which judicial circuit and division your case will be filed in. Your case number will be assigned when you file your case.
When you have completely filled out the petition (with everything except the case number), you must sign the petition in the presence of a notary public. If you do not know anyone who is a notary public, most banks have someone who can notarize documents for a small fee. After the petition has been notarized, you are almost ready to file the petition with the Clerk of the Court in the county where you live.
- Civil cover sheet (this gets filed with the petition)
- When you file your petition, you must include what's called a Civil Cover Sheet. A sample Civil Cover Sheet is included. At the bottom of the form you must list the date you file your petition and sign the form where indicated, listing your address and phone number also.
- Assistance from nonlawyer
- If anyone other than a lawyer licensed to practice law in Florida helps you fill out any of your name change forms, that person must fill out a disclosure form, which is provided to the court.
- Filing fee
- When you file your petition, Civil Cover sheet (and if applicable, Disclosure from Non-lawyer form) with the Clerk of Court, you will be required to pay a filing fee. The filing fee varies from county to county; for example, as of June 2002, the filing fee in Hillsborough County was $205. Contact the Clerk of Court to find out what the filing fee is in your county. Once you have completed this step, a case number will be assigned and an official court file will be opened. You have now filed your name change case.
- Set hearing date
- After you file your case, you must set a hearing date for the court to consider your petition. The procedures for setting a hearing date vary from county to county, so you should ask the Clerk or Court about the procedure in your area. Depending on the judge, you may or may not be required to attend a final hearing, where the judge may ask you basic questions about your petition for name change to ensure that you are not attempting to change your name for illegal or fraudulent purpose, such as to avoid creditors or to hide from law enforcement authorities. In general, you may change your name for any purpose that is not a fraudulent purpose.
- Final judgment
- Your Forms Package contains a Final Judgment of Change of Name (Adult) form, which the judge may use to finalize your name change. Check with the Clerk of Court to see if your judge prefers for you to bring a final judgment form with you. If so, you should type or print the heading, including the circuit, county, case number, division, and your current legal name (not the new name you are asking the court to accept). Leave the rest of the form blank for the judge to complete. If the judge grants your petition, he or she will sign the Final Judgment form, which is also called a final order. This officially changes your name.
- Certified copies of final order
- For a small fee, the Clerk of the Court can provide you with certified copies of the signed final order. The amount of the fee may vary from county to county. It may be helpful to compile a list of all of the people and/or places that will need a certified copy of your final judgment. This list may include the driver's license office, social security office, banks, schools, etc. Making a list may help you figure out how many copies you will need and may save you time and another trip to the courthouse to get extra copies later.
- You should keep a copy of all paperwork you file with the court as well as all of the documents the court and the clerk's office provide to you.
- CHANGING OTHER IDENTITY DOCUMENTATION TO REFLECT CHANGES
- You are required by Florida law to obtain a replacement driver's license or Florida ID card showing your new name within 10 days of legally changing your name.
- To amend name on driver's license or state ID card/where to apply
- Getting a replacement driver's license or identification card is very simple. Go to your local driver's license office and provide a certified copy of your Final Judgment of Name Change and pay the required fee and they will issue a new driver's license or id card.
- Social Security Card
- After you have received your legal name change, you may apply to change your name on your social security card.
The Social Security Administration will issue a new social security card with your new name, but will NOT issue you a new social security number; they will merely amend your card to reflect your new name. Therefore, employers and others who conduct a search using your social security number may locate documents that reflect your prior name.
- To amend name on social security card
- To change your social security card to reflect your new legal name, you must complete Form SS-5. You must also provide at least one identity document that identifies you by your old name and your new name, such as a certified copy of your Final Judgment of Name Change, or two identity documents: one in your old name and one in your new name.
The Social Security Administration will accept the following documents as proof of identity: driver's license, marriage or divorce record, military records, employer ID card, adoption record, life insurance policy, passport, health insurance card (not Medicare), or a school ID card. They do NOT accept birth certificates. All documents must be either originals or certified copies. The social security office will NOT accept photocopies of documents, even if notarized.
You may mail your application to the social security office or bring your application and supporting documents to your local Social Security office. Your documents will be returned to you. You should receive your new social security card within two weeks. If you do not receive your card within two weeks, you should contact the Social Security office where you filed the application.
- Birth Certificates
Birth certificate records are kept by the state in which you were born. For specific information about how to amend your birth certificate to reflect your name change if you were born in a state other than Florida, contact the Department of Vital Records or equivalent agency in the state in which you were born.
- To amend name on Florida birth certificate
- If you were born in Florida, you may amend your birth certificate to reflect your new legal name. If your legal name change was granted by a Florida court, the Clerk of Court will forward a report of legal change of name to the Florida Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics, usually within 30 days. The name change order will then be attached to your original birth certificate. If you wish to receive a copy of your amended birth certificate, you must complete an Application for Amended Birth Certificate and pay the $20 amendment fee. For more information, contact the Department of Vital Statistics at 904/359-6900.
- If you have a U.S. passport and would like to amend your existing passport to reflect your new name, you must fill out and submit the Passport Amendment/Validation Application, also called form. You must submit a completed form DS-19 along with a certified copy of your Final Judgment of Change of Name and your current valid passport. Photocopies and notarized copies are NOT acceptable. Your amended passport and any documentary evidence will be returned to you via first class U.S. mail after the process is completed. You may amend your passport at your local passport office or mail the required documents to the following address:
Charleston Passport Center
1269 Holland Street
Charleston, SC 29405