You were given your name after birth and it's been with you ever since. So what happens when it's time to change it? The answer depends on your situation and the law in your state. For Peach State residents, Georgia law sets out a few ways to change your name. So if you're getting married, divorced, or simply ready to go by something else, read on to figure out how to change your name in Georgia.
We'll cover how to:
- Identify the right process for you;
- Figure out what paperwork should be filed; and
- Start using your new name once it's changed.
1. Identify and Follow the Correct Georgia Legal Name Change Process
Fixin' to get hitched? Marriage is the easiest time to change your surname (last name). Most women still take their husband's surname upon getting married, although different arrangements can be made too. Georgia law permits you to change your surname when applying for a state marriage license.
There are some details to mind though. Georgia's marriage name change law only works for changing your surname. And when changing it through a marriage certificate, you've got four options:
- You can keep your given surname, i.e. the one you already have;
- You can take a surname from a previous marriage;
- You can take your spouse's surname; or
- You can combine your surname with your spouse's surname.
Just put your new surname on your marriage certificate application. When issued, your marriage license is proof of your new name.
Many people change their name during a divorce. Some parents want to keep the same surname as their children, while many divorcing spouses don't want anything to do with their ex or their last name.
Georgia permits a court to restore a maiden or prior name during the normal course of divorce proceedings. Remember the importance of the marriage certificate in changing your name in the eyes of the law? Well, the court's final divorce decree can change it back. In fact, you can change your surname back to any prior name that you've had before.
Petition for a Change of Name
Not getting married or divorced? You can change your name another way then. Georgia gives you the option to change your name to whatever you want, but you've got to go through the courts. Filing a name change involves some legwork. You'll have to:
- File a petition in your county's superior court;
- Verify the petition in a signed document;
- Set forth the reasons for your proposed name change;
- Publish notice of your petition; and
- Schedule and attend a court hearing to decide the issue.
For children who are still minors, a parent may file a name change petition in the same manner on their kid's behalf. The written consent of all parents is normally required, although that's not always the when one is a deadbeat when it comes to child support payments. At the very least though, notice to another parent or guardian is expected.
You've also got to publish notice of your petition. Georgia requires this to happen once a week for four weeks, and it's got to include your current name, desired name, and the when and where of the petition's filing. And it needs to say that anyone interested or affected can file objections. Once completed, you'll need proof of publication to show the court.
A court proceeding is required mostly to prevent illegality, fraud, or other nefarious name changes. Georgia bans name changes for the purpose of fraud, whether it's to avoid creditors, debts, child support or spousal support obligations.
When everything is squared away, and assuming there are no objections or problems, a court will consider the petition. If granted, the clerk of the court will issue you a certificate of change of name. That's your legal proof of a name change.
2. File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
You're not quite out of the woods once you've got papers in hand. Changing your name on your driver's licensee needs to happen within 60 days of a name change. You can contact the Department of Driver Services for that. Find your local Social Security office to change your Social Security card as well. This will get your IDs up to date.
3. Start Using Your New Name
Almost there! Once you've dotted the i's and crossed the t's, start using your new name. Tell family, friends, neighbors, work, and other people you know that you have a new name. It's also best to tell you bank, any creditors, and other people who might come looking for you. Don't forget to update your email, Facebook, and other digital accounts either.
Get the Forms You Need in Georgia
While changing your name can take time, effort, and a whole lot of research, there's no need for much bellyaching. Our Georgia name change forms have everything you need to get the job done right the first time. Avoid figuring out what you are required to do and the cost of an attorney. Find the name change form for you and get started today.