You can generally get your name changed in Arkansas if you want to, but there's some paperwork involved to complete the process and make it all official. In this article, we'll talk about how to change your name in Arkansas, including:
- Determining the best way to change your name;
- Getting the necessary paperwork signed and submitted; and
- How to start using your new name.
1. Legally Change Your Name in Arkansas
No matter the occasion, your name change starts with some kind of legal step that ends with you receiving proof of your new name. What form that takes depends on when and how you're changing your name.
When Getting Married: Your Marriage Certificate
It's still widespread and customary for women to take their husband's surname when getting married. This isn't required, and there are other practices and traditions of changing names after marriage which are used and which are legal.
Arkansas allows you to change your name when getting married by applying for a marriage license. Simply fill in your new name when applying and, once married, your marriage certificate serves as proof of your name change. Make sure to keep a certified copy, because you'll want one to update your official records (more on this below).
For all you destination wedding minded folks, know that this process is common across the country, but can vary slightly depending on which state you're in.
When Getting Divorced: Your Divorce Decree
Divorce is another widespread way of legally changing your name. When divorcing your soon-to-be-former spouse, making their name your former name may seem like a necessary step in the process. Thankfully, the law makes a special allowance for it.
Arkansas permits a court handling a divorce to restore a wife's previous name. A court will generally include an order to this effect in the divorce decree, a certified copy of which will serve as proof of the name change. Notably, the state's statute is silent on a husband's ability to change his name during divorce.
For Most Other Times: Petitioning a Court
It's easiest to change your name as part of an existing legal process. Marriage is regulated by the state and divorces are ordered by the state – so name changes are pretty painless on those occasions. For nearly all other occasions, though, you'll want to go through the petition process.
Arkansas allows any adult to petition a court for an order changing their name. You'll need to submit an application form, filling out your personal information and supplying your reasons for the name change. You should be prepared to go to court for a hearing and potentially satisfy the judge who hears the petition.
Most name change petitions are fairly routine. But there are some things that can't be done. You cannot change your name for any fraudulent, illegal, or dishonest purpose. And know that a name change will not get you out of a lawsuit, debt, or criminal charge either.
If granted, the court will issue an order changing your name. Make sure you get a certified copy. It'll be important for the next step of the process.
2. File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
Your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order serve as proof of name change. And you'll need this proof to update your Social Security and driver's license to reflect your new name. Without an updated ID, you're going to have a hard time doing even basic things like cashing checks made out to your new name.
For your first step, you'll want to visit a local Social Security office and fill out the proper forms to receive a new Social Security card. Your next step is to get a duplicate driver's license from the Arkansas Office of Driver Services. With these two documents updated, you'll be ready to start using your new name.
3. Start Using Your New Name
You should inform family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances of your name change. Notifying employers, creditors, banks, and insurance providers should be done in short order too. Basically, you'll want to inform anyone who might ask 'who the heck is this?" when seeing your new name.
Get the Forms You Need in Arkansas
A name change need not cost you an arm and a leg in attorney's fees or take up too much of your time. Consider using our Arkansas name change forms to help you get it done.