Georgia Name Change Forms – How to Change Your Name in GA

Use the Georgia name change forms to formally request a name change for an adult or minor who resides in the State. All documents must be submitted to the superior court which has jurisdiction in the county where the applicant resides. If the applicant’s name is being changed because of a marriage or a divorce, the name change forms are not needed. Instead, the person can simply indicate their desire to change their name when establishing their marriage or divorce policies. Changing one’s name for any other reason will require the applicant to file the name change forms and pay the corresponding fees.

Laws – § 19-12-1

Table of Contents

Name Change After Marriage

Your marriage license application will contain a space in which you can specify a new last name. The new name can be either your spouse’s last name, a hyphenated name containing both your and your spouse’s last name, or a name which is a combination of the two. Enter the new name in the applicable space of the form and file your marriage license application. The change of name is only effective once the marriage is legal and the license has been issued.

Name Change After Divorce

When filling out your divorce papers, you will have the option to revert to your former name by entering the name in the space which has been dedicated to this purpose. This step is all that’s needed to inform the court of your desire to change your name. Once your divorce is final and you have received your divorce decree, the name change will be legal and you may begin to use the new name.

Adult Name Change (No Marriage or Divorce)

An adult change of name application must be filed with the superior court in the county where you reside. The request will be submitted to the court via a written petition that states the purpose of the change as well as your personal information. You will be required to pay for all of the superior court filings fees unless your income is low enough for a court approved exemption. However, the exemption will only apply to the fees demanded by the superior court and not those required for publication or notarization.

Step 1 – Fill out Petition

Enter your change of name information on a Petition to Change Name of Adult form. Ensure that the case number and the signature fields are left unfilled. If you currently reside in a shelter supporting victims of family violence, do not enter that address. You should instead mention the name of the shelter and state where it is located.

Step 2 – Prepare Verification Form

The Verification of Petition to Change Name of Adult form will be used to verify the authenticity of the contents of your Petition. Fill out the form completely excluding the case number line and signature field.

Step 3 – Fill out Notice of Petition

When you submit your filings to the superior court, you will be required to publish a notice of your petition in a local newspaper. The form used for this purpose is the Notice of Petition to Change Name of Adult. Fill out the document in the same manner as you did the previous forms, leaving the case number and signature fields unfilled. Note that the date you enter in the body paragraph of the Notice form must be the actual date that you file the Petition.

Step 4 – Sign Documents in front of a Notary Public

Review your filings to ensure that they have been filled out accurately. Next, take your paperwork to a notary public and sign your documents in their presence. The notary will then complete the unfilled area of the Verification form and return each document back to you. If there is a Family Law Information Center available in your county, the Center can notarize your documents for free. A notary can also be found at most banks and financial institutions.

Step 5 – Prepare Information Form

Download the General Civil Case Filing Information Form (Non-Domestic) and input your case details.

Important Information:

  • Select “Superior” in the upper-left portion of the form
  • Leave the “Docket Number” and “Date Filed” areas unfilled
  • Select the “Pro Se” box
  • Leave the “Defendants” area unfilled
  • Below “Check Primary Type,” select “Other General Civil Specify” and enter “Name Change”
  • Do not fill in the “If Tort is Case Type” box

Step 6 – Make Copies

After completing the requisite paperwork and having the documents notarized, make several photocopies of each form. Keep these copies neatly organized and stored in a safe place for future reference if needed.

Step 7 – File with a Clerk of the Superior Court

Visit the superior court filing location in your county and submit your filings to a clerk. Be sure to bring a photocopy of each form. Upon submission of your documents, you will be required to provide two filing fees; the processing fee for your petition as well as a separate publication fee. Contact the superior court in your county prior to filing in order to determine the exact amount for each fee.

If you have a low income and are unable to afford the processing fee demanded by the superior court, you can request an exemption by filing an Affidavit of Poverty and an Order on Affidavit of Poverty form with the clerk. Each form has been provided below for those who reside in Dekalb county. Contact your superior court to obtain local versions of these documents. Note that the Affidavit does not exempt you from paying the publication fee.

After paying the filing fees, or after your exemption request has been approved, the clerk will give you a case number and stamp your photocopies with a date & time stamp. Your documents will then be returned to you. Before leaving the office, ask the clerk to tell you which judge will be handling your case as well as the contact information for the judge’s calendar clerk.

Step 8 – Publication of Notice

After your submission has been processed, the clerk will forward your Notice of Petition to Change Name of Adult to a local newspaper. Subsequently, the newspaper will publish the Notice once each week for four (4) consecutive weeks. This process is meant to inform the general public of your request for a name change and to allow any interested party to prepare their objections.

The newspaper will supply you with a Publisher’s Affidavit after the Notice has been published. Make a copy of this form for your personal records.

Step 9 – Wait and Prepare for Final Hearing

You will need to wait at least thirty (30) days from your initial filing date before a hearing for your case can be held. During this period of time, prepare the following forms and have them ready for submission:

  • Final Order Changing Name of Adult
    • Fill out the form completely except for the judge’s signature field
  • General Civil Case Final Disposition Form (Non-Domestic)
    • Select “Superior” in the upper-left portion of the form
    • Enter “Petitioner” above “Title”
    • Enter your name in “Plaintiff/Petitioner’s Attorney”
    • Select the “Pro Se” box
    • Leave the defendant/respondent areas unfilled
    • Select the “Bench Trail” box in “Type of Disposition”
    • Leave the “Award” and “Judgment on Verdict” sections unfilled
    • In “ADR,” select “No” in response to whether or not ADR was utilized

Step 10 – Schedule Hearing

Contact the calendar clerk for the judge who was appointed to your case. The contact information for the clerk should have been provided to you when you submitted your filings. Be ready to provide your case number and any additional information pertaining to your case. Ask the clerk to arrange a date and time for your final hearing.

Note: Certain courts require appointments for hearings while others have specific days and hours of the week dedicated to hearings of this nature.

Step 11 – Attend Hearing

Go to the court on the scheduled date and time. You will need to have the following documents with you and ready for submission to the court:

  • Copy of Petition to Change Name of Adult
  • Copy of Notice of Petition to Change Name of Adult
  • Publisher’s Affidavit (from newspaper)
  • Final Order Changing Name of Adult
  • General Civil Case Final Disposition Form (Non-Domestic)

When you arrive at the courtroom, the judge will ask you to provide your petition information. The judge may also ask you additional questions relating to your change of name request. The judge will then determine whether or not your request is valid. If your request is authorized, the judge will sign the Final Order form and return it to you. Lastly, leave the courtroom and ask a clerk to make you a certified copy of the Final Order form (a fee will be required for this service). This certified copy will be the legal evidence of your change of name.

Driver’s License

The State of Georgia requires individuals who have recently changed their names to notify the Department of Driver Services (DDS) within sixty (60) days of the change. However, before contacting the DDS, it will be necessary for you to apply for a new social security card.

To obtain a new social security card, you will need to submit the following documents to a Social Security Administration (SSA) office:

  • A completed Application for a Social Security Card
  • Proof of name change, such as your marriage certificate or divorce decree
  • Proof of identity, such as your driver’s license or passport
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship, such as your birth certificate or citizenship certificate

Review the SSA list of accepted documents to find out what forms can be used. A new social security card will be mailed to you after your application has been processed.

Next, you will need visit a DDS office in person and supply them with the following:

  • Current Georgia driver’s license
  • Proof of name change, such as your divorce decree or court order (see list of accepted documents)
  • Payment for the fee (if applicable)

Your first name change with the DDS will be free. If this is not your first name change, contact the office prior to your visit in order to find out the exact amount.

Note: A driver’s license which expires within the next one hundred and fifty (150) days must be renewed. Thus, a different filing procedure is required. Learn more by reviewing the license renewal and Georgia identification cards webpages.

Voter Registration

Updating the name on your registered voter information can only be accomplished after you have changed your name with the Georgia Department of Driver Services (see above).

Your voter registration information can be updated either online, by mail, or in person. To update online, navigate to this webpage and select the button for name changes. If you’d like to update your name by mail or in person, submit a Voter Registration Form to the County Board of Registrars Office (in person) or to the Secretary of State (by mail). If submitting in person, make sure you select the “Change of Name” box found on the right side of the form.

Minor (Child) Name Change

A minor’s name can be changed if both natural parents and the legal guardians (if applicable) consent to the request or have been formally served with copies of the case filings. Before proceeding with your application, consider whether or not the other parents or guardian may disagree with the decision to change the child’s name as their choice will affect your filing process. Furthermore, the process will be slightly more complicated if the whereabouts of the other parents or guardians is unknown.

Step 1 – Fill out Petition

Start by downloading the Petition to Change Name(s) of Minor Child(ren). Prepare the form by filling in the empty spaces with the requisite information. However, do not fill in the case number line and do not supply your signature.

Additional Instructions:

  • If you are the child’s natural parent, enter the other parent’s name as the Respondent
  • If you are the child’s legal guardian, enter both parents’ names as the Respondent
  • If the child has no living parents, leave the Respondent area empty
  • If you are living in a shelter that supports victims of family abuse, do not list the address of the shelter

The information provided in the above additional instructions is applicable to all forms used in this tutorial.

Step 2 – Prepare the Verification Form

A verification form will be used to confirm that you fully understand the effect of the request for a change of name. It will also be used to confirm the accuracy of the information mentioned in the Petition. Download the Verification of Name Change Petition for Minor Child(ren) and fill in the empty spaces of the form. Be sure to leave the case number and signature fields empty.

Step 3 – Provide Consent

You will need to indicate your consent to the minor’s change of name by filling out a Consent to Change Name(s) of Minor Child(ren) and Acknowledgment of Service form. Do not sign the document and do not enter the case number. If the child’s other parents or legal guardian consents to the request for the change of name, they must be provided with a copy of the Petition and fill out the same Consent form unless either of the following exceptions apply:

  • The individual has not supported the child for at least five (5) years before the date that the Petition is filed
  • The individual has abandoned the child
  • The individual has died

If the other parents or guardian does not consent to the request for a change of name, a different process is required (see step 10).

Step 4 – Prepare the Notice Form

In Georgia, all change of name petitioners must publish a notice of their petition in a local newspaper in order to notify the general public. The form that you will need to submit for publication is the Notice of Petition to Change Name(s) of Minor Child(ren). Prepare the form by supplying the requisite petition information. There are two (2) areas on the form in which a date must be entered. In the first area, the date you enter must be the actual date that you file the Petition. Leave the case number and signature fields empty.

Step 5 – Sign in Front of a Notary Public

With your forms fully prepared, each document must be taken to a notary public and signed in their presence. If the child has other parents or another guardian who has completed a Consent form (see step 3), they must also appear before a notary public and sign. Contact the Family Law Information Center in your county to find out how they can notarize your documents for free. You can also locate a notary public at most local banks and credit unions.

Step 6 – Prepare Information Form

The General Civil Case Filing Information Form (Non-Domestic) must be included with your filings when your Petition is submitted to the superior court. Download the form and fill it in with your petition information.

Additional Instructions:

  • Choose “Superior” in the upper-left area of the form
  • Do not enter the “Docket Number” or “Date Filed”
  • Choose the “Pro Se” box
  • Do not fill in the “Defendants” area
  • Below “Check Primary Type,” choose “Other General Civil Specify” and enter “Name Change”
  • Leave the “If Tort is Case Type” box empty

Step 7 – Make Copies

At this point, your filings should be properly prepared and ready for submission. However, before filing, make several photocopies of each document. There should be enough copies to be able to provide the child’s other parents or guardian with a set of the forms. Additionally, make a set of photocopies for yourself.

Step 8 – File with the Superior Court

Take your filing package to the superior court in your county and submit your paperwork, including a set of photocopies. A filing fee must be paid at this time. Contact a clerk in advance to determine the amount. In addition to the superior court filing fee, you will also be required to pay for a separate publication fee (usually $40).

If you are unable to afford the superior court filing fee due to a low income, an exemption can be requested by submitting an Affidavit of Poverty and an Order on Affidavit of Poverty. This exemption does not cover the cost of publication. These forms are available below and are meant for use in Dekalb county, though a local version of these documents can be obtained at the superior court or at a Family Law Information Center.

The clerk will provide you with your case number after your filings have been processed. The clerk will also stamp the set of photocopies and return them to you; keep these in a safe place for future reference. Lastly, ask the clerk to tell you the name of the judge who will be reviewing your case as well as the name and contact information for the corresponding calendar clerk.

Step 9 – Publication of Notice

After filing with the clerk, he or she will arrange to have your Notice of Petition to Change Name(s) of Minor Child(ren) published in a county newspaper. The article will be published once a week for four (4) consecutive weeks. You will receive an Affidavit from the newspaper after the article has been published.

Step 10 – Serve Petition to Other Parent(s) or Guardian

It will be necessary for you to contact the child’s parent(s) and/or guardian to inform them that the request for a change of name has been filed. If the individual has already signed a Consent to Change Name(s) of Minor Child(ren) and Acknowledgment of Service form (see step 3), and signed said form in front of a notary public, no further action is required. However, if the individual will not sign the consent form, you must use one of the service methods mentioned below.

Personal Service

Personal service is when a deputy sheriff hand delivers copies of your filings to the individual. This method of service can only be used if there is a known address where the individual can be served. You should be able to request personal service at the time that your Petition is filed. Otherwise, contact a local Sheriff’s Department to arrange for personal service. There will be a required fee regardless of where personal service is requested.

Ensure that the sheriff includes a Sheriff’s Entry of Service form when serving the individual. Once service is completed, the sheriff will provide you with the proper documentation indicating the service transaction. This documentation must be filed with the superior court in your county.

Certified Mail Service

Certified mail service should be used when the individual resides in a state other than Georgia. To serve using this method, send a copy of the Notice and the Petition to the individual by certified mail (return receipt requested). You should receive a green card from the post office after the letter has been delivered. You must then complete a Certificate of Service form and attach it to the green card. Next, photocopy the green card as well as the Certificate of Service and file them with the superior court.

Service by Publication

Service by publication should only be used if you cannot find out where the individual lives or works. Before attempting to use this method of service, you must have exhausted all possibilities of locating the individual. The court will need proof of the efforts taken to find the person.

Download the Service by Publication Packet which contains the necessary paperwork. The following documents are available in the Packet:

  • Affidavit of Diligent Search
    • Must be signed in front of a notary public
  • Order for Service by Publication, Return of Service, and Order Perfecting Service

After completing the paperwork found within the Service by Publication Packet, make copies of the documents. Next, file the original forms with a clerk of the superior court. The clerk will sign the Order for Service by Publication area found on page 2 of the packet.

The clerk will then mail the previously completed Notice of Petition to Change Name(s) of Minor Child(ren) to the individual’s last known address. Following that, the clerk will complete the Return of Service area found on page 2 of the packet. The remaining portion of page 2 will be completed by a judge.

To be as thorough as possible, it’s recommended that you personally mail copies of the Petition and Notice forms to the individual’s last known residential address. Be sure to provide a return address as the post office may be unable to locate the individual.

Because you have already arranged to have a notice published in a newspaper, there are no further actions required in terms of publication. If at any point before your final hearing you discover where the individual lives, arrange for the sheriff to serve the individual by personal service or have the person complete a Consent form.

Step 11 – Wait and Prepare for Final Hearing

Georgia law requires a waiting period between the time the last parent or guardian was served and the date of the final hearing. If the child’s parents or guardian lives in Georgia, the waiting time is thirty (30) days from the date that the last individual was served. If any of the individuals live outside of Georgia, you must instead wait sixty (60) days. Additionally, the publication requirement must be met before a hearing can be held.

While you wait for the required amount of time, prepare the following documents:

  • Final Order Changing Name(s) of Minor Child(ren)
    • Do not sign above the “JUDGE” signature field
  • General Civil Case Final Disposition Form (Non-Domestic)
    • Select “Superior” box found below “Court”
    • Enter “Petitioner” as your title
    • Fill in your name as the “Plaintiff/Petitioner’s Attorney”
    • Select the “Pro Se” box
    • Leave the defendant/respondent areas empty
    • Choose the “Bench Trail” box in “Type of Disposition”
    • Leave the “Award” and “Judgment on Verdict” sections empty
    • In “ADR,” select “No”

Step 12 – Schedule Hearing

Have your court papers on hand and contact the calendar clerk who was assigned to your case. You will be asked to provide your case number as well as other information relating to the change of name. After the clerk has been provided with the necessary information, ask the clerk to schedule your final hearing.

Certain courts do not allow for scheduled appointments of this variety. In these instances, you will instead need to attend your hearing during the appropriate business hours.

Step 13 – Attend Hearing

Before showing up for your court hearing, ensure that you have copies following documents:

  • Petition to Change Name(s) of Minor Child(ren)
  • Consent to Change Name(s) of Minor Child(ren) and Acknowledgement of Service
  • Notice of Petition to Change Name(s) of Minor Child(ren)
  • Publisher’s Affidavit (received from newspaper)

You must also bring the Final Order for Changing Name(s) of Minor Child(ren) form and the General Civil Case Final Disposition Form (Non-Domestic).

When you appear before the judge, you may be asked to respond to questions concerning the reason for the change of name. The judge will review your case and make a ruling. If the change of name is approved, the judge will sign the Final Order form and return the document to you. Exit the courtroom and ask a clerk to make you at least one (1) certified copy of the Final Order form (additional fee may be required). This document is what’s needed to legally prove that your name has been changed.