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California Name Change Forms – How to Change Your Name in CA

California name change forms allow a person above the age of eighteen (18) to request a change of name for themselves or for children under their guardianship. The forms must be submitted, along with a filing fee and accompanying paperwork, to a California superior court located in the individual’s county of residence. If a judge approves the request, the individual will be issued a decree to serve as legal proof of their name change. Those who are seeking to alter a minor spelling error on a child’s birth certificate may bypass the standard filing process and make a request directly with the California Department of Health.

Laws – § 1275 – 1279.6

Table of Contents

Name Change After Marriage

The opportunity to change your last name will be available at the time your licensing documents are being signed. However, to ensure the legality of the change, contact the Social Security Administration and a local California DMV to see if they will accept your marriage license or certificate as proof of the change. It is a possibility that they will demand additional verification in the form of a court order. If this is that case, your name may only be changed through the standard California Adult Name Change procedure.

Name Change After Divorce

If your divorce is yet to be finalized, you can make a request before the court to restore your name back to the name used prior to your marriage. This can be accomplished by entering your former name in section 4(f) of your Judgement. If your name is being changed to anything other than your former name or to a married name you previously used, you will need to complete the standard filing of a Petition for Change of Name.

If your divorce is final and was filed in California, contact a court clerk in your county and provide him/her with your divorce details. Inform the individual of your case number, case name (names of both parties), and the date of order/ judgment/filing (if possible). If you have a copy of your completed Notice of Entry of Judgement, provide that to the court clerk as well. Lastly, complete an Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgement and Order and submit it to the clerk (include a self-addressed and stamped return envelope if submitting by mail).

Adult Name Change (No Marriage or Divorce)

An adult in California may change their name by filing a Petition for Change of Name with the superior court. After filing the petition, the court will schedule a hearing date somewhere between six (6) and twelve (12) weeks away. The purpose of the hearing will be for a judge to review the requested name and to determine whether there is a good reason for the change. If approved, the judge will sign a decree which can be used as proof that the name has been changed legally.

Step 1 – Petition for Change of Name

Begin by downloading the Petition for Change of Name and fill in all applicable spaces of the document. The required information includes your personal details, the name of attorney (if applicable), superior court location, and the proposed new name. Make two (2) copies of the form after it has been completed. Alternatively, the petition can be filled in online.

Step 2 – Attachment to Petition for Change of Name

The Attachment to Petition for Change of Name will need to be filled out and included with your Petition for Change of Name. This document will be used to provide the court with some additional personal information and to describe the reason for the name change. Have two (2) copies of the form made after it has been filled out.

Step 3 – Order to Show Cause for Change of Name

Also to be included with your filings is the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name. Much like the Petition for Change of Name, this document will inform the court of your personal details as well as the proposed new name. Fill out the form and make (2) copies.

Step 4 – Civil Case Cover Sheet

Fill out the Civil Case Cover Sheet and attach it to your completed documents. Under “Miscellaneous Civil Petition” in section (1) of the form, select “Other petition (not specified above) (43).” Make two (2) copies of the cover sheet once completed.

Step 5 – Check for Local Forms

Depending on the county where you reside, you may be required to fill out additional forms and submit them with your filings (e.g. background check form, fingerprint card). Contact your local superior court to see if any other documents are needed. Have two (2) photocopies made of all additional paperwork.

Step 6 – Review Filings

It is recommended that you contact a California family law facilitator or self-help center (if available in your county) to have your filings reviewed. These organizations will be able to ensure that you have filled out your paperwork correctly and they will provide you further information on the filing requirements in your county.

Step 7 – File Forms with the Superior Court

Submit your filing package to a superior court located in your county of residence. File your original documents with the clerk and request that each copy be certified. Have the clerk schedule a hearing for you at least six (6) weeks in the future. The clerk should then return your certified copies. Look to the copy of your Order to Show Cause for Change of Name as it will contain information on your hearing date, time, and the department number.

A filing fee of $435 will be needed to process your paperwork, though this rate may vary in certain counties due to local courthouse surcharges. If you are unable to afford the fee, ask the clerk for a fee waiver.

Step 8 – Publish Court Order

California law demands that you publish your Order to Show Cause for Change of Name in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for four (4) consecutive weeks. Your local superior court should have a list of newspapers that publish legal notices. There will be a publication fee demanded by the newspaper which will not be covered by your court waiver (if requested). Check with the newspaper prior to publication to find out the exact fee. After the notice has been published, ask the newspaper for proof of publication.

Certain scenarios will allow you to negate the publication requirement. The following list shows the instances where publishing in not required:

  • If your name is being changed because of a new gender identity
  • If you are in the State Witness Program
  • If you are in the address confidentiality program and your name is being changed to avoid domestic violence, stalking, or if you are a victim of sexual assault (or if the name change is on behalf of a victim of sexual assault)

You can learn more about this topic by reading section (7), page (2) of the Petition for Change of Name as well as the Information Sheet for Name Change Proceedings Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at home).

Step 9 – Attend Hearing

Go to your court hearing on the date specified on your Order to Show Cause for Change of Name. Be sure to bring proof of publication (if required) as well as a Decree Changing Name form. If your request for a change of name is approved, the judge will sign the decree and return it to you. Ask a court clerk to make a certified copy of the decree; this document will serve as proof that your name has been changed legally.

Driver’s License

In order to change the name on your California driver’s license, you must notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) and update your social security card. You can do this by filling out an Application for a Social Security Card and delivering it in person or by mail to an SSA location in your county. Included with the application must be the following documents:

  • Proof of name change such as your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order
  • Proof of identity (see list of accepted documents)
  • Proof of citizenship such as your U.S. birth certificate or certificate of citizenship

All of the documents listed above must be originals or certified copies. Your new social security card will be mailed to you after the SSA has processed your application.

After updating your social security card, visit a California DMV location and submit a Driver’s License or Identification Card Application (request the form in person or call 1 (800) 777-0133 to have it mailed to you). You must also provide an original or certified copy of your legal name change document and pay a $27 fee. Your new card will be sent to you by mail within sixty (60) days.

Voter Registration

To change the name on your voter registration, you will need to submit a new California Voter Registration Form to a local County Elections Office. Fill out section (A) on the form to indicate that you have changed your name. Alternatively, you may fill in the form on the California Secretary of State website.

Minor (Child) Name Change

Changing the name of a child in California can be accomplished by submitting a request before a judge of the superior court. The request shall clearly state the reason for the name change, the place of birth and current residence of the child, the child’s current name, and the proposed new name. If the judge permits the request, a decree will be issued which will serve as legal evidence of the name change. The entire process may take upwards of three (3) months to complete, though certain courts will have longer waiting times depending on the frequency of cases being processed.

Step 1 – Prepare Petition for Change of Name

Download and complete the Petition for Change of Name. The form should mention your personal and contact information, the superior court filing location in the child’s county, the current and proposed name, and who the petition is being filed by. You may also complete the form online using the LawHelp Interactive for Name Change Petition Program. In addition to the petition, the following attachments must also be completed:

You will need one (1) attachment for each child whose name is being changed. If both parents are filing the request, each person must sign the attachment.

Step 2 – Order to Show Cause for Change of Name

The Order to Show Cause for Change of Name form is used to provide the court with additional information about the child whose name is being changed. Fill out an order form for each child and have the documents included with your filings.

Step 3 – Civil Case Cover Sheet

Next, the Civil Case Cover Sheet will need to be downloaded and filled out. In section (1) of the cover sheet, select the “Other petition (not specified above) (43)” option located below the “Miscellaneous Civil Petition” heading.

Step 4 – Check for Local Forms

Certain California counties may require additional forms and/or fees. Therefore, you should contact the superior court in the child’s county to find out if any additional items must be included with your filings.

Step 5 –  Make Photocopies

Make three (3) photocopies of each form completed thus far, or four (4) copies if you are the child’s guardian (the Civil Case Cover Sheet needn’t be photocopied). These additional copies will be needed when you file your documents with the superior court.

Step 6 – Review Filings

You may find it beneficial to contact a family law facilitator or self-help center (if available in your county) to have your paperwork reviewed by a professional. In doing so, you can ensure that your forms have been completed correctly before you make an attempt to file them with the superior court.

Step 7 – File Forms 

Take your filings to a superior court location in the county where the child resides. Submit your paperwork to a court clerk and pay the $435 filing fee. This rate differs between counties; contact the superior court to find out the exact amount. If you can’t afford the fee, request a fee waiver so that you may pay the fee in increments or have it waived altogether.

The clerk will file your original documents after payment has been accepted. Ask the clerk to schedule a hearing for you at least six (6) weeks later. You should then request certified copies of each filed document. Your hearing information will be posted on the certified copy of your Order to Show Cause for Change of Name.

Step 8 – Serve Court Papers (if applicable)

If you are the child’s parent and have chosen to file the name change request by yourself, or if you are the child’s guardian, you will need to serve the other parent(s) with copies of your paperwork. This must take place at least thirty (30) days before the hearing date. You are not permitted to serve the other parent(s) yourself. Instead, you must have someone above the age of eighteen (18) execute the service. The documents which must be served are as follows:

  • Petition for Change of Name
  • Attachment to Petition for Change of Name
  • Supplemental Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (if applicable)
  • Order to Show Cause for Change of Name

If the parent(s) live in California, someone must serve them the paperwork in person. If one or both of the parents live outside of California, send them the paperwork by certified mail (return receipt requested). Note that you cannot mail the paperwork yourself. Review this webpage for more information on serving court papers.

The server will need to complete a Proof of Service of Order to Show Cause form for each parent. Once completed, it can be filed with a court clerk prior to your hearing, or it can be brought to your hearing and presented to the judge. Additional requirements may apply (ask clerk for more information).

Step 9 – Publish Court Order

Before your court hearing, you will need to publish your Order to Show Cause for Change of Name in a California newspaper of general circulation. Contact the superior court in your county to see if they have a list of approved newspapers. The order form must be published once each week for four (4) weeks consecutively. Publication costs differ depending on the newspaper; contact the superior court ahead of time to find out the exact amount. After the order has been published, request proof of publication from the newspaper.

Note: There are several filing circumstances that will exclude you from the publishing requirement, including the following situations:

  • If the child is in the State Witness Program or the address confidentiality program and the child’s name is being changed to avoid stalking or domestic violence
  • If the child is a victim of sexual assault and the request to change the child’s name is on their behalf

Learn more about this topic by reviewing section (7) on page (2) of the Petition for Change of Name or review the Information Sheet for Name Change Proceedings Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at home).

Step 10 – Attend Hearing

Attend your court hearing on the date and time indicated on the copy of your Order to Show Cause for Change of Name. You will need to bring proof of publication (if required) and the proper accompanying documents.

The additional paperwork required is as follows:

  • If you are the child’s parent and both parents are filing together, bring a Decree Changing Name
  • If you are the child’s parent and are filing without the other parent, bring a Decree Changing Name and proof of service showing that the other parent has received copies of the filed documents
  • If you are the child’s guardian, bring a Decree Changing Name of Minor (By Guardian) and the proofs of service which show that both parents have received copies of the filed documents

If the other parent(s) objects to changing the child’s name, the judge will allow the other parent(s) to state the reasons for their objection. The judge will then determine whether or not the change is in the best interest of the child.

If the judge approves the request to change the child’s name, a decree will be signed and given to you. Ask a court clerk to make a certified copy of the form. The certified copy will serve as proof that the child’s name has changed and can be used to update his/her social security card, birth certificate, and like documents.


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