Wisconsin Name Change Forms – How to Change Your Name in WI

A Wisconsin name change form can be used by citizens of the State who wish to petition for a legal name change. All name changes will be processed through the circuit court in the petitioner’s county. These forms are not required if a person intends to take their spouse’s name after marriage, or if they desire to revert to their maiden name after a divorce. People change their names for many other reasons aside from marriage or divorce, and the court will likely grant a name change petition as long as the proposed name is appropriate and is in accordance with State law. Name changes for a minor under the age of fourteen (14) years old can be petitioned by one (1) or both parents, a sole adoptive parent, or a legal guardian/custodian. The procedure for this type of petition differs from that of an adult or minor over the age of fourteen (14).

Laws§ 786.36-37

Table of Contents

Name Change After Marriage

Marriage is the most common reason people change their name, and it is also the simplest of the name changes processes. If you wish to take your spouse’s name after marriage, simply include your new name on the marriage license when you fill it out. After the ceremony, the license will be signed and sent in to be recorded by the officiator. You will receive an official marriage certificate, which you may use to update your name on various documents and licenses.

Name Change After Divorce

Changing your name after divorce is very common, second only to name changes made after marriage. The process is quite simple and requires minimal effort. During the divorce proceedings, you must notify the court of your intent to revert to your maiden name (or any other former legal name). The divorce order, or decree, will include a statement that explains your decision to change your name after the divorce. Once the divorce is finalized, you will receive a copy of the divorce order and can use it to notify any agencies or institutions.

Adult Name Change (No Marriage or Divorce)

Individuals petitioning for a name change for political, religious, or other personal reasons may do so by filing the appropriate name change forms with their county’s circuit court. Persons prohibited from changing their name are registered sex offenders and those in a profession for which a license is required by the state (lawyers,  doctors, etc.). This law does not apply to public school teachers or professions where no state board or commission authorizing said licenses exist. Furthermore, name changes made for fraudulent purposes will not be sanctioned.

Step 1 – Download Petition Form

Download the Petition for Name Change Form (Adult or Minor 14 or Older) and fill in all the appropriate fields. Do not fill in the signature field – locate a notary public and sign the form in their presence.

Step 2 – Download Notice of Hearing Form

The second form of the Wisconsin name change packet is the Notice and Order for Name Change Hearing. Download this form and enter your personal information. Leave the judge’s fields blank.

Step 3 – Download Order Form

Download the Order for Name Change Form and enter your name at the top. You can leave the rest of the form blank as the court clerk might insist on filling it out themselves.

Step 4 – File Forms

Make copies of all your forms and take the originals to your local circuit court. File the forms with the clerk and pay the filing fee (fee varies between counties). The clerk will give you the time and date of your hearing.

Step 5 – Publish Notice

With your Notice and Order for Name Change Hearing Form completed, you can now contact a local newspaper to have them publish it. The publication must be a newspaper in your county and the notice must be published once a week for three (3) weeks before the date of your hearing. Ask the newspaper for an Affidavit of Publication and file this document with the court clerk, or bring it to the hearing.

Step 6 – Attend Hearing

On the date of your hearing, visit the courthouse and bring your birth certificate and any other necessary documents/forms. As long as your name change meets the requirements of State law, and no one objects to the name change, the judge will approve your petition and sign the Order. If the judge does not grant the name change, they will complete an Order Denying Name Change Form.

Step 7 – File Order Form

The Order for Name Change must be filed with the Clerk of Court’s office. Have them make certified copies so you can file one in the Register of Deeds office and use the other to update your name with the appropriate state and federal agencies.

Driver’s License

Changing your name on your driver’s license is one of the first things you’ll think of after having legally changed your name. However, in Wisconsin, it’s mandatory that you update your name with the SSA before the DMV. The SSA name update process requires you to download and complete the Application for a Social Security Card Form. Submit this form to the SSA by mail or in-person along with proof of your name change, proof of identity, and proof of lawful presence in the U.S. Your new Social Security card should arrive in the mail fourteen (14) business days after your application is processed. Once you receive your new card, you can visit your local DMV office. Make sure to bring proof of identity, proof of name change, your old driver’s license, and the appropriate fee ($14 for DL, $16 for ID Card).

Voter Registration

Updating your name with Wisconsin’s Elections Commission requires that you complete new voter registration. You can complete this process online by going to myvote.wi.gov. Alternatively, download and complete the Wisconsin Voter Registration Application. Submit this form by mail or in-person to your municipal clerk.

Minor (Child) Name Change

Name changes for minors under the age of fourteen (14) can be petitioned by both living parents, the sole surviving parent, or the sole adoptive parent. In situations where the paternity of the minor has not been established, or those in which the minor’s parents are not married, the mother may petition for the name change herself. If both biological parents are deceased or their parental rights have been terminated, a legal guardian/custodian may petition for a minor’s name change. A minor over the age of fourteen (14) should follow the steps outlined in the ‘Adult Name Change’ section above.

Step 1 – Download Petition Form

As the petitioner, you must download and complete the Petition for Name Change (Minor Child under 14). It’s important that you sign this form once in the presence of a notary public.

Step 2 – Download Notice of Hearing Form

Download the Notice and Order for Name Change Hearing Form. This is the form that will be used when notifying the public of the proposed name change and hearing date. Complete all fields except for the last section of the form; which will be completed by the judge handling the case.

Step 3 – Download Order Form

Download the Order for Name Change Form. You can leave it blank except for the name at the top, and the court clerk may want to fill it in themselves after you file the forms. Make copies of this form, as well as the Petition and Notice.

Step 4 – File Forms

Bring the original copies of all the forms to your county’s circuit court along with the minor’s birth certificate. File them with the court clerk and pay the filing fee. The clerk will let you know when the hearing will take place.

Step 5 – Publish Notice

Wisconsin law states that you must publish the Notice of Hearing in a local newspaper once a week for three (3) weeks. Contact a newspaper in your county and ask them how much it will cost and where to send your Notice. Once the publication has run for three (3) consecutive weeks (must be before the hearing date), they will send you an Affidavit of Publication. Ask the court clerk if they need you to file it before the hearing, or if you can bring it to the hearing yourself.

Step 6 – Serve Parent (If Applicable) 

This part of the minor name change process is only applicable if you are the sole petitioning parent but the other parent is not deceased, nor have their parental rights been terminated. In these situations, it’s mandatory that you provide the non-petitioning parent with a copy of the Petition and Notice. This can be accomplished by having the sheriff’s office or a private process server deliver the forms to the other parent. After service, the sheriff/server will send you Proof of Service. Make a copy of this form, and bring it with you to the hearing. If service fails, you must prove that you did everything in your power to locate the other parent and notify them of the name change proposal. Download and complete the Affidavit of Attempted Service on Non-Petitioning Parent to bring to the judge on your hearing date.

Step 7 – Attend Hearing

On the day of your hearing, gather the necessary documents – minor’s birth certificate, Affidavit of Publication, Proof of Service (if applicable), and Affidavit of Attempted Service (if applicable) – and appear before the judge. The judge will ask for the reasoning behind the name change and will look over all the necessary documents. As long as the name change is in the minor’s best interests, the judge will most likely sign the Order granting the name change.

If the non-petitioning parent attends the hearing or communicates any grievances towards the petition, another form must be completed by said parent. The Response of Non-Petitioning Parent to Name Change will outline the other parents’ position in the matter. This document must be filed with the court clerk and the judge may establish another hearing date.

If you are the sole petitioner, and the non-petitioning parent has not shown up to the hearing or otherwise objected to the name change, the judge will sign the Order for Name Change Form.

Step 8 – File Order

File the Order for Name Change with the court clerk and ask for certified copies. One (1) must be recorded in the Register of Deeds office in your county and one (1) can be kept for your records.