West Virginia Name Change Forms – How to Change Your Name in WV

Updated January 23, 2023

A West Virginia name change form is a legal document with which a resident of the State can apply for a legal name change with their county court. This form, known as the Petition, must contain all the appropriate information as stated in the laws posted below. Anyone over the age of eighteen (18) can petition for their own name change, whereas an application for the name change of a minor (persons under the age of eighteen) must be petitioned by the minor’s parent(s). Regardless of the individual’s age, the person desiring a name change must have resided within their respective county for at least one (1) year. An exception to this rule exists wherein an individual is permitted to apply for a name change in a West Virginia county as long as they were born, married, and a previous resident of said county for at least fifteen (15) years. All name change petitions must go through the petitioner’s county circuit or family court. A Petition need not be submitted by individuals wishing to change their name after marriage or after a divorce; a simpler process exists for such cases.

Laws§ 48-25

Table of Contents

Name Change After Marriage

As with most states, West Virginia lets you choose whether you would like to keep your maiden name after you get married, or take your spouse’s name. If you wish to use your spouse’s last name after marriage, make sure to add your new name to your marriage license application. When the actual license is drawn up, your new name will be included in the document. Make sure to inscribe your new signature on any further marriage documentation. Once you receive your marriage certificate, use it as proof of your legal name change so you can update your name with various state and federal agencies.

Name Change After Divorce

Should you wish to revert to your maiden name after you get divorced, make sure to state your intent with your divorce attorney. Your attorney will make sure the judge is privy to your wish so the judge can include a name-change clause within the divorce decree. Once the divorce proceedings are finalized, the judge will sign the decree. Make sure you obtain a certified copy of this decree as it will be useful to inform important agencies and institutions of your legal name change.

Adult Name Change (No Marriage or Divorce)

Individuals eighteen (18) years of age or older may petition for a name change in their county’s circuit or family court as long as none of the following applies:

  • Petitioner is a convicted felon and is currently incarcerated. (Individuals convicted of first-degree murder can apply for a name change ten (10) years after they have been released from prison.)
  • Petitioner is currently required to register as a sex offender
  • Petitioner is attempting to avoid debt or creditors
  • Petitioner is seeking a name change for illegal or fraudulent purposes

Step 1 – Complete Petition

The State of West Virginia allows you, or your attorney, to create your own Petition as long as it follows the legal requirements set forth in § 48-25-101. Alternatively, you can download a fillable version of the West Virginia Adult Name Change Petition. This form, once completed, should include all the necessary information for a judge to make their decision regarding your proposed name change. Sign the petition only when in the presence of a notary public.

Step 2 – Complete Civil Case Sheet

To make sure all cases pass through the court smoothly and in a timely manner, you should file a civil case sheet with your Petition. Download the Civil Case Information Statement and complete all the appropriate fields. There is no defendant in a name change case, so you can leave that space blank.

Step 3 – File Forms

Visit the circuit court or family court in your county and file the Petition and Case Information Statement with the court clerk. The clerk will ask you to pay the filing fee – this fee varies throughout the State so you may want to call ahead to inquire. They will also provide you with a hearing date and time.

Step 4 – Post Notice

Once you have filed your Petition, you are required to make a public notice regarding your hearing date and proposed name change. You can hand-write a notice or use this fillable Notice of Publication Form. This notice must appear once at least ten (10) days prior to your hearing in a newspaper that publishes weekly in your county. You can call the newspaper’s offices ahead of time to find out their rates, however, you may want to read through § 59-3-3 of WV statutes to find out what they are legally permitted to charge.

Step 5 – Attend Hearing

On the allotted date and time of your hearing, you must appear before the judge to answer any questions they might have concerning your name change petition. Anyone familiar with your hearing, through the notice publication or otherwise, can show up and object to your name change. If the judge does not hear any objections, and they deem your new name appropriate and law-abiding, they will sign an Order for Name Change. You will be given a copy of the Order and can use this as proof of your legal name change.

Driver’s License

Updating your name change on your driver’s license is a two-step process. First, you’ll need to update your name with the Social Security Administration. Download the Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5) and enter all the appropriate information. Submit this form along with proof of identity, proof of lawful presence, and proof of name change to the SSA by mail or in person. You will receive your Social Security card within fourteen (14) business days of your application being processed.

After receiving your new Social Security card, you can apply for a new driver’s license with the West Virginia DMV. Download and complete the Application for a Driver’s License or Photo ID Card (Form DMV-DS-23P). Visit your local DMV and bring proof of your name change, proof of your identity, proof of address (2 documents), and proof of your Social Security number. The clerk will ask for the appropriate fee, which is currently $7.50. You will be given a temporary license and will receive your official license in the mail within fifteen (15) business days.

Voter Registration

Your voter registration must be updated after legally changing your name in order to render you eligible to vote in upcoming elections. To inform your county’s elections office of your new name, download and complete the West Virginia Voter Registration Application. Make sure to select the appropriate check-box under ‘section 1’ of the form and enter your new name. Mail this form to your county clerk.

Minor (Child) Name Change

Petitioning for the name change of a minor must be executed by one (1) of the minor’s parents or legal guardians. The parent/guardian must be at least eighteen (18) years of age and the child must be a resident of their county for at least one (1) year prior to filing the petition. (If the minor is not currently a resident of the county, they must have been born in said county in order to qualify.) A minor name change petition cannot be filed if one (1) of the following conditions applies:

  • Petition is being sought for illegal or fraudulent purposes
  • Petition is being sought to avoid debt or creditors
  • Petitioner is a registered sex offender
  • Petitioner is a convicted felon

Step 1 – Complete Petition

A Petition can be created by the petitioner or an attorney as long as it includes all the required information. A simpler method would be to download the West Virginia Minor Name Change Petition and fill out all the necessary fields. Regardless of whether the petition is downloaded or hand-written, you, the petitioner, must sign the form in front of a notary public.

Step 2 – Civil Cover Sheet

Due to the wealth of cases, West Virginia courts receive, filing a cover sheet with your petition will help avoid any filing complications. Download the Civil Case Information Statement and enter the appropriate information.

Step 3 – File Forms

Go to your county’s courthouse, either circuit or family court and file the forms with the court clerk. You will have to pay a filing fee, which varies drastically from county to county. The clerk will provide a hearing date after you pay the fee.

Step 4 – Notice to Parent(s)

It is most common for both parents (or guardians) to file a name change petition for their child. However, if one parent/guardian is not involved in the process, they must be made aware of the proposed name change and hearing date. The parent can be served notice in one (1) of three (3) ways; through the sheriff’s department, through a private process server, or by certified mail. If you chose to serve notice through the sheriff or a process server, the receiving parent will have to sign an Acceptance of Service in front of a notary public. You may choose to send notice to the parent by certified mail, in which case the receiving parent must sign the receipt. File the Acceptance of Service or return receipt with the court clerk before your hearing date. In the event that the other parent cannot be located, you must prove to the court that reasonable effort was made to locate the parent.

Step 5 – Publication

All minor name changes must be made public. This can be accomplished by publishing a legal notice in a county newspaper (must be a weekly publication). Download the Legal Notice of Publication and submit it to a newspaper in your county. The notice must be published once at least ten (10) days before the hearing date.

Step 6 – Hearing

You, the petitioner, and the minor must appear before the judge on the hearing date. You will be sworn in under oath and asked to testify to the truthfulness of the contents of the petition. The judge will ask you to relay the reasoning behind the name change, and they will also ask the court if there are any objections to the name change. If there are no objections, and the judge deems the name change to be in the child’s best interests, they will sign a Name Change Order. It is your responsibility to update any institutions and agencies about the minor’s legal name change.