Most people who go through the process of legally changing their names are doing so because they're getting married or divorced, which is why there are simplified processes for changing your name in these instances. Generally, an individual who's getting married can change their name by simply including their new name on the marriage license. As for getting your name changed back upon divorce, most jurisdictions - including Washington, D.C. - allow a judge to restore the name in the final divorce decree.
Most jurisdictions allow their residents to change their name for other reasons as well. However, if the name change isn't due to a marriage or divorce, there are usually more steps to the process. In the District of Columbia, the process for changing one's name involves filling out court forms, appearing before a judge, and sometimes notifying third parties. Examples of third parties that you may have to notify include loan companies, credit card companies, and/or law enforcement agencies.
Keep in mind that whether you change your name through a marriage license, divorce decree, or court order, you'll have to update your name on all documents and records, including your Social Security card, driver's license, and passport.
How to Change Your Name in D.C.: The Basics
It's always important to read the actual statute when you have a legal question, but it can also be helpful to read a plain language overview of the law. In the table that follows, you'll find a summary of Washington, D.C.'s name change statutes and links to relevant statutes.
District of Columbia Code, Division II, Title 16, Chapter 25 (Change of Name or Gender):
|Who Can File an Application for a Name Change?
Any resident of the District of Columbia can file a name change application that sets forth the new name and the reason for change. If the applicant is a minor, the application must be filed by their parent, guardian, or next friend.
|How Do You File for a Name Change?
Prior to filing an application for a name change, the applicant must have lived in D.C. for at least six months. Once that requirement is met, the applicant must complete and submit the Application for Change of Name and supporting document(s), and pay the required filing fee. If the applicant qualifies as low income, they may be able to get a Fee Waiver.
- District of Columbia Code, Division II, Title 16, Chapter 9, Section 16-901, et seq. (Divorce, Annulment, Etc.)
- District of Columbia Code, Division VIII, Title 46, Subtitle I, Chapter 4, Section 46-401, et seq. (Marriage)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
How to Change Your Name in the District of Columbia: Related Resources
If you'd like additional information and resources related to this topic, you can visit the links listed below.
Questions About How to Change Your Name in D.C.? Ask a Lawyer
While changing your name may not be too complicated of a process, you may still have questions or concerns while filling out the required paperwork. For answers to any questions related to changing your name or other family issues in D.C., it's a good idea to get in touch with a skilled family law attorney near you.