How do you change your name if you're a Hoosier? Well, the answer depends on what's happening in your life and why you're getting your name changed in the first place. Indiana allows people to change their last names when getting married and return to a former name when getting divorced. For residents seeking to change their name at other times, petitioning the local court for a name change order is necessary.
We'll talk about how to change your name in Indiana for all situations. You'll find out how to:
- Identify the right process for you;
- Determine what paperwork needs to be filed; and
- Start using your new name once it's changed.
1. Identify and Follow the Correct Indiana Legal Name Change Process
Like most states, Indiana provides a few different ways to change your name.
Most name changes occur when getting married. Since it's been this way for centuries, it's not surprising that Indiana makes doing so relatively easy.
You can change your last name when applying for a marriage license by listing your new name on the application form. Once the ceremony is performed and the marriage license is issued, the certified marriage license serves as a legal proof of a name change.
There's no separate process and, since you need a marriage license anyway, dovetailing your name change with applying for a marriage license makes a whole lot of sense.
Let's face it, after getting divorced your ex's last name might not be what you want at the end of your signature line anymore. While the divorce process can be long and hurtful, changing your name after divorce doesn't have to be.
Indiana allows a woman to restore her maiden name, or previous married name, during the course of divorce proceedings. This should be filed in the petition for dissolution of the marriage (divorce suit), and must be requested – a court won't automatically change the name back unless you ask.
When the decree of dissolution is entered (in other words, when the divorce becomes final), the court will change your name as requested. Like a certified marriage certificate that divorce decree serves proof of your name change under the law.
Petition for a Change of Name
For anyone not getting married or divorced, or who wants to change their name in other ways, you'll have to file a petition in state court. While not necessarily a difficult legal process, it is an involved one. You'll have to file a petition in the local circuit court:
- Listing a whole lot of personal information, such as your driver's license number;
- Prove that you're a U.S. citizen;
- Describe any criminal convictions;
Indiana requires a petitioner to subscribe, swear, or affirm the petition under penalty of perjury before a notary public. So add that to the list of things to do.
Notice of the petition must also be published in a local newspaper, once a week for three weeks, at least thirty days before going into court, and verified by affidavit. Once that's satisfied, a judge will hear the petition and can enter an order legally changing your name.
There are a few things you can't do when it comes to changing your name. A name change will not let you escape child support obligations, paying your debts, or answering lawsuits. A Court will not allow a name change for illegal or fraudulent purposes either, so don't try it. Changing your name is an individual choice, but it's also one a judge must sign off on as well. So be prepared.
2. File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
You're almost out of the corn maze, Hoosier! A marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order legally changes your name. But you'll need an updated Social Security card, driver's license, and other identification to make good use of it. Start by contacting your local Social Security office. Once your card is updated, use it to amend your driver's license with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
3. Start Using Your New Name
It's important to use your new name and tell people about it. This can allow family to revise emergency contacts and important documents (like wills); employer's to update their records; and a friend to know who the heck is trying to contact them when they see your new name. You should also tell your bank, insurance company, and anyone else you do business with regularly. Don't forget to update your email and social media accounts.
Get the Forms You Need in Indiana
While changing your name isn't a difficult legal task, the preparation and paperwork involved can be a hassle. Hiring an attorney can hit you in the wallet pretty good too. Consider making your life easier with Indiana name change forms.