A Comprehensive Guide to Changing Your Name in California

Understanding the process of a name change in California can be complex, as it involves navigating various legal requirements and procedures. However, if you are changing your name due to marriage or divorce, the process is far more straightforward.

In this post, we’ll delve into the legal requirements and procedures for a name change in California, providing an exhaustive overview of the process.

We will discuss eligibility requirements for a name change and explain how to file a petition with your local court. Additionally, we’ll cover costs associated with filing a petition and outline the required documents for submission.

Furthermore, you’ll gain insight into the court hearing process for name changes and learn about potential outcomes after granting or denying your request.

By thoroughly exploring these topics related to name change California procedures, our goal is to equip you with comprehensive knowledge so that you can successfully navigate this legal undertaking.

Overview of California Name Change Laws

Changing your name in California is a legal process that requires following specific laws and regulations. Whether you’re changing your name due to marriage, divorce, or personal reasons, it’s essential to understand the steps involved and adhere to the requirements set forth by California courts. This section provides an overview of these laws and offers insight into what one can expect when pursuing a name change in California.

Reasons for Changing Your Name

In California, individuals may seek a legal name change for various reasons, such as:

  • Marriage or domestic partnership: Adopting a spouse’s last name or creating a new combined surname.
  • Divorce: Reverting to one’s maiden name after ending a marriage.
  • Personal preference: Desiring a different first or last name reflects their identity better.
  • Safety concerns: Seeking anonymity due to threats or harassment.

Legal Restrictions on Names

The state of California has certain restrictions on names that are intended to prevent confusion, fraud, or offensive language. Some limitations include:

  • No numerals (e.g., “John Smith III” would be prohibited).
  • No special characters apart from hyphens and apostrophes (e.g., no exclamation points).
  • No symbols (e.g., “@”, “#”, “$”).
  • No names containing obscenities, slurs, racial epithets, etc.
  • Name changes with fraudulent intent are prohibited. For example, attempting to change your name to avoid paying debts or evading law enforcement.

Understanding these restrictions is crucial when selecting a new name, as the court may deny any request that violates these guidelines. For more information on California’s name change laws and regulations, consult the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1275-1279.6.

In conclusion, understanding the overview of California name change laws is important for anyone considering a legal name change. To be eligible for a name change, certain criteria must be met.

Name Change After Marriage

Getting married is a significant milestone in one’s life. Along with the joy of starting a new journey, some legal formalities must be taken care of. One such formality is changing your name after marriage.

The Requirements for Changing Your Name After Marriage

In California, if you want to change your name after getting married, you need to meet certain requirements:

  • You must have gotten married in California or have a valid California marriage license.
  • You must not be seeking the name change for any fraudulent purpose.
  • You cannot seek a name change to avoid debts or obligations under another identity.

The Process of Changing Your Name After Marriage

To legally change your last name after getting married in California, follow these steps:

  1. Obtain an original certified copy of your marriage certificate from the county recorder’s office where your marriage license was issued.
  2. Visit this link to learn more about obtaining vital records.
  3. Fill out and file Form NC-100 (Petition for Change of Name) with the Superior Court Clerk’s Office in your county. You will also need to pay a filing fee at this time.
  4. Click here to download Form NC-100.
    If both spouses wish to hyphenate their names or create a new surname as part of their marital union, they can jointly petition for a name change. Visit this link to learn more about the joint petition for a name change.
  5. After filing the Petition, you will be given a court date. You must attend that hearing, provide evidence of your marriage, and explain why you want to change your name.
  6. If the judge approves your request, they will sign an Order Recognizing Change of Name. This order can then update legal documents such as your driver’s license, birth certificate, and social security card.

Additional Forms You May Need

In addition to Form NC-100 (Petition for Change of Name), some additional forms may need to be filled out depending on your situation:

  • If you have children under 18 who are also changing their names with yours or someone else has legal custody over them, complete Form NC-110 (Name Change – Child).
  • Click here to download Form NC-110.
    If both parents wish to hyphenate their child’s last name together or create an entirely new surname as part of their marital union, they can jointly petition for a minor’s name change. Visit this link to learn more about the minor’s name changes.
  • If you want to correct any errors in the Order Recognizing Change of Name after the court has issued it, complete Form NC-120 (Application for Correction).
  • Click here to download Form NC-120.

Changing your name after marriage can be lengthy, but it’s an important step in establishing your new identity as a married couple. If you have any questions or concerns about the process, don’t hesitate to contact the California Department of Motor Vehicles or your local Superior Court.

Name change after divorce in California

Changing your name after a divorce can be an important step towards moving on and starting fresh. In California, changing your name after a divorce is relatively straightforward.

Changing Your Name During Divorce Proceedings

Suppose you are currently going through a divorce in California and wish to change your name back to a former name, such as your birth name or maiden name. In that case, you can specify this request as part of your Declaration for Default, Uncontested Dissolution, or Legal Separation (form FL-170) and on the Judgment (form FL-180). Once the judge signs the Judgment, it serves as legal proof that you have changed your name.

To complete the process, you must get a certified copy of the signed judgment from the court clerk’s office and take it to local offices such as the DMV and Social Security Administration. You may also need forms like Form NC-330 – Order Recognizing Change Of Gender And Issuance Of New Birth Certificate if applicable.

Changing Your Name After Divorce Finalization

If you want to change your last name post-divorce finalization in California, then fill out form FL-395 (Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment And Order), which requests permission from the Superior Court Judge who presided over the dissolution proceedings allowing the applicant to restore their prior legal surname. The application should include information about why they want their old identity back along with any relevant documents like a marriage certificate if available at the time the petition was filed; there may also be fees associated with filing depending upon the county where the case was heard.

After getting approval from the court, an order recognizing the change has been granted. Within 30 days after that, submit paperwork supporting the decision, including a Marriage license/certificate showing new/old names match up, a Driver’s license or ID card reflecting the new name, and a Social Security card with updated information.

Changing Your Name Outside of California

If you were divorced outside of California, the process might be different depending on the state where your divorce was finalized. Most states have a simplified process for changing your name after a divorce, but if they do not, you will need to petition for a name change through the court system.

You must also petition for a legal name change if you change your name to something other than a former legal name (such as taking on a spouse’s last name).

In conclusion, changing your name can be an important step towards moving confidently into this next chapter of life, whether it is during or after divorce proceedings in California or another state. Following these steps and correctly completing all necessary paperwork and forms, along with additional documents required like marriage certificate/license copies, etc., one can legally restore their prior surname without any hassles.

Eligibility Requirements for a Name Change in California

You must meet certain eligibility requirements to change your name in California legally. These criteria are set forth by the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1275 and ensure that individuals seeking a name change have legitimate reasons for doing so.

The following are some key eligibility requirements:

  • Residency: You must be a resident of California and have lived in the county where you’re filing your petition for at least six months.
  • No fraudulent intent: The purpose behind your request for a name change should not be to defraud or deceive others, evade debts or obligations, or commit any other illegal activities.
  • No criminal history restrictions: Certain criminal convictions may prevent you from changing your name. If these conditions are met, those wishing to change their name in California legally may generally proceed with the process; however, further considerations, such as public interest and potential effects on third parties, may be considered when evaluating a request individually.

If these basic eligibility requirements are met, most people can proceed with their petition for a legal name change in California. Still, when deciding whether to approve or deny the request, the court may consider other considerations – including potential public implications and effects on third parties.

Note that different rules apply when changing one’s surname after marriage or divorce; this process is typically simpler than filing a formal petition with the court system (source). Similarly, parents seeking to change the name of their minor child must follow a separate process and meet additional requirements as outlined by California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1276.

Certain criteria must be met to be eligible for a name change in California. After satisfying the requirements for a name change in California, one must discover how to apply for such.

How to File a Petition for a Name Change in California

You must follow all necessary steps to ensure the name change petition process goes smoothly. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Gather necessary documents: Before filing your petition, ensure you have all the required documents (as discussed later in this article). This includes proof of residency, identification, and any other relevant paperwork.
  2. Complete the appropriate forms: To initiate the name change process, you must complete several forms provided by the California Judicial Branch. These include:
    • Name Change Petition (Form NC-100)
    • Name Change Order (Form NC-110)
    • Civil Case Cover Sheet (Form CM-010)

    You may also need additional forms depending on your specific circumstances.

    Note: Different procedures apply if you change your name due to marriage or divorce. For more info regarding marriage or divorce-related name changes, speak to a lawyer or visit the court’s website. 

  3. Create copies of completed forms: Make at least two copies each – one set for yourself and another for submission with your original signed documents.
  4. File your petition with the court clerk: Submit all required original signed forms along with their corresponding copies and fees at your local county courthouse. The court clerk will stamp both papers as “Filed” and return one copy as proof that your petition has been filed.
  5. Publish your name change: If the court requires, you must publish a notice of your intended name change in a local newspaper for four consecutive weeks. This step is crucial and must be completed before attending your court hearing. Be sure to obtain proof of publication from the newspaper as well.
  6. Attend your court hearing: Once all steps have been completed, attend the scheduled court hearing, where a judge will review and decide on granting or denying your request for a name change (as discussed later in this article).

Navigating the procedure for altering one’s name can appear intimidating, yet it can be accomplished effectively with sufficient preparation and focus on particulars. Remember that each case is unique; therefore, consulting with an attorney or seeking assistance from legal aid organizations might prove helpful throughout this process.

Undertaking a Petition for Name Modification in California can be an involved job, yet with the right facts and prep it is possible. To understand the costs of this procedure, one must look at all the fees required to complete the filing.

Key Takeaway:

To file a petition for a name change in California, gather necessary documents and complete the appropriate forms provided by the California Judicial Branch. Make copies of completed forms, file your petition with the court clerk, publish your name change if required, and attend your court hearing to review and decide on granting or denying your request for a name change.

Costs Associated with Filing a Name Change Petition in California

Filing a name change petition in California can come with various costs, including court fees and other expenses related to the process. It’s essential to be aware of these costs before starting your name change journey so that you can budget accordingly.

Court Fees

The court fee is the primary cost of filing a name change petition. In California, this fee varies depending on the court where you file your petition but generally ranges from $435 to $480. If you cannot afford this fee, you may apply for a fee waiver, which will require providing documentation of your financial situation.

Newspaper Publication Fee

In most cases, when filing for a legal name change in California, you must publish notice of your intended new name in an approved local newspaper once weekly for four consecutive weeks. The publication fees vary by newspaper but typically range between $50 and $200.

Certified Copies of Court Order Granting Name Change

After receiving approval from the court for your requested name change, it’s recommended that you obtain certified copies of the order granting the request as proof of your new legal identity. These certified copies are often required when updating identification documents such as driver’s licenses or passports. Each certified copy typically costs between $25 and $40.

Additional Expenses Related to Updating Documents and Records

  • Driver’s License: You’ll need to pay a fee to update your license with the local California DMV. The charge for a new driver’s license is currently set at $28.
  • Passport: Updating your passport after a name change requires paying fees for obtaining a new one. Adult and child passports have varying fees for first-time issuance or renewal. Visit the U.S. Department of State website for detailed information on passport fees.
  • Social Security Card: There is no charge to obtain an updated Social Security card reflecting your new name; however, you may incur costs related to mailing required documents, such as certified copies of court orders and identification documents.

In addition to these expenses, other costs may be associated with updating various records and accounts in your personal life, such as bank accounts, credit cards, insurance policies, professional licenses or certifications, and more.

Costs of petitioning for a name change in California may differ depending on the court and county; hence, it is prudent to research your local regulations before filing. We will discuss the documents needed when filing a name change petition in California.

Key Takeaway:

Filing a name change petition in California can be costly, with court fees ranging from $435 to $480 and newspaper publication fees varying between $50 and $200. After receiving approval for the name change, obtaining certified copies of the order granting the request is recommended as proof of new legal identity, typically costing around $25 to $40 per copy.

Required Documents for Filing a Name Change Petition in California

When filing a name change petition in California, you must submit several documents to the court as part of your application. These documents provide essential information about your identity and reasons for requesting the name change. Below is a list of required documents that you need to gather before starting the process:

  1. NC-100: Petition for Change of Name: This form serves as your official request to change your name and includes personal details such as your current legal name, proposed new name, date of birth, and reason(s) for seeking the change. The form can be downloaded from the California Courts website.
  2. NC-110: Attachment to Petition for Change of Name: If additional people are involved in the petition (e.g., spouse or children), this attachment should be completed with their relevant information. You can find this form on the California Courts website.
  3. NC-120: Order to Show Cause for Change of Name: This document informs interested parties about when and where they can object if they have any concerns regarding your proposed name change. It also sets forth specific instructions on how you must publish notice of your hearing in a local newspaper (if applicable). Download NC-120 from the California Courts website.
  4. Civil Case Cover Sheet (CM-010): This cover sheet provides general information about your case type and category, which helps the court manage its caseload. You can download CM-010 from the California Courts website.
  5. Proof of Publication: If you are required to publish notice of your hearing, you must submit proof that it was published in a newspaper approved by the court. This typically includes an affidavit or declaration signed by someone at the newspaper who is responsible for legal notices.
  6. Filing Fee or Fee Waiver Request: You must pay a filing fee when submitting your petition unless you qualify for a fee waiver based on financial hardship. In this case, complete and submit forms FW-001 (Request to Waive Court Fees) and FW-003 (Order on Court Fee Waiver). Both forms can be found on the California Courts website.

Gathering these documents before starting your name change process ensures you have all the necessary information when completing your application. Remember that each county may have additional requirements, so you must check with your local court for any specific instructions or forms needed.

Completing the paperwork for a name change petition in California is imperative to ensure your application’s acceptance. We will discuss California’s court hearing process for name changes.

Key Takeaway:

To petition for a name change in California, you must submit NC-100, NC-110, and NC-120 forms, proof of publication, and the filing fee or request a waiver if financially unable. You must also provide proof of publication and pay the filing fee or request a waiver based on financial hardship.

Court Hearing Process for Name Changes in California

Navigating the court hearing process for name changes in California can be daunting, but knowing what to anticipate and how it works will help reduce worries. Though it can be nerve-wracking, comprehending the procedure and what to anticipate can assist in calming some of those worries. To ensure a smooth process, this article will provide an overview of the steps required for obtaining a court hearing to change one’s name.

A. Scheduling Your Court Hearing

After filing your name change petition and completing all necessary paperwork, including publication requirements (if applicable), the court will schedule your hearing date. This typically occurs within 6-12 weeks after submitting your documents.

B. Preparing for Your Court Hearing

To prepare for your court hearing, gather all required documents, such as:

  • Your completed name change petition form;
  • Copies of any published notices or proof of publication;
  • A valid photo ID (e.g., driver’s license or passport); and,
  • Any other relevant documentation related to your case.

In addition to gathering these materials, consider practicing what you plan on saying during the hearing to feel more confident when presenting your case before the judge.

C. Attending Your Court Hearing

On the day of your scheduled court appearance:

  1. Dress appropriately: Dress professionally and conservatively – think business attire or something similar.
  2. Show up early: Arrive at least 30 minutes before ensure ample time for parking and locating the correct courtroom.
  3. Check-in: Upon arrival, check in with the court clerk and let them know you are there for a name change hearing.
  4. Wait your turn: When your case is called, approach the judge’s bench and present your documents to the judge.

The judge will review your petition and ask any necessary questions. Be ready to articulate the cause for wanting your name changed and tackle any issues that may arise during questioning.

D. Receiving Your Name Change Order

If the judge approves your request for a name change, they will sign an Order Granting Name Change (NC-130). This document legally changes your name and proves your new identity. Ensure to obtain certified copies of this order from the court clerk before leaving – these will be needed when updating records such as driver’s licenses or passports.

In some cases, if the court requires additional information or documentation, you may need to return later with those materials before receiving approval for a name change.

The court hearing process for name changes in California is complex, but understanding the steps can help ensure your request will be granted. Moving on to the next heading, we’ll discuss how granting or denying a name change request affects individuals living in California.

Key Takeaway:

The California court hearing process for name changes involves scheduling a hearing date, gathering required documents, and presenting your case before the judge. Attending the court hearing appropriately, getting there ahead of time, and being ready to explain why you want your name altered are all essential. If the judge approves, you will receive an Order Granting Name Change as proof of your new identity.

Effect of Granting or Denying a Name Change Request in California

This section will explore the legal implications of granting or denying a request for a name change in California. This includes any restrictions on using the new name and potential criminal penalties associated with using an assumed name without permission from the court.

Legal Implications of Granting a Name Change Request

When the court grants your name change petition, you can legally use your new name for all purposes. You can update all identification documents, such as driver’s licenses, passports, social security cards, and bank accounts, with your newly changed name. After receiving approval for your name change, you must notify relevant government agencies like the local California DMV and the California Department of Motor Vehicles within specific timeframes.

Suppose you have been convicted of certain crimes or are required to register as a sex offender under Penal Code Section 290. In that case, additional forms may be necessary before using your new legal name. You may need to notify law enforcement or the local court.

Potential Consequences if Your Name Change Petition Is Denied

If the court denies your request for a legal name change, you cannot officially use the desired new name. Continuing to do so could lead to serious consequences:

  1. Criminal Penalties: Using an assumed identity without proper authorization can result in misdemeanor charges under California Penal Code Section 529(a)(4). If found guilty, one could be subject to jail time of up to six months and fines reaching $1,000.
  2. Fraud Charges: If you use an unauthorized name to deceive others for personal gain, you could be charged with fraud. Penalties for fraud can be severe, including potential incarceration and hefty fines.
  3. Difficulty Accessing Services: Using a name that is not legally recognized may cause issues when trying to access government services or financial institutions. For example, banks may refuse transactions under an unapproved name.

If your petition is denied, it’s essential to consult with a court clerk or a qualified attorney who specializes in California name change laws. They can help determine if any other options are available for changing your legal name or guide you through appealing the court’s decision.

Key Takeaway:

If a name change request is granted in California, the person can legally use their new name for all purposes and update identification documents. However, if the petition is denied, using an unauthorized name could result in criminal penalties or difficulty accessing services. It’s important to consult a court clerk or attorney for guidance on other options or to appeal the decision.


Overall, changing your name in California requires meeting certain eligibility requirements, filing a petition with the court, and attending a court hearing. The process may be demanding in terms of cost and effort, but if all the appropriate measures are taken, it is achievable to switch your name.

If you are considering changing your name in California or have already begun the process, Legal Scoops can provide valuable resources and guidance. Visit our website for more information on legal topics like name changes and other important legal matters.