Kentucky, like most states, makes it relatively easy to change your name following a marriage or divorce, and provides a process for changing your name at other times and for other reasons using the courts. We'll cover how to change your name in Kentucky through each of these processes, and help you figure out how to:
- Identify the right name change process for you;
- Figure out what paperwork needs to be filed; and
- Start using your new name.
1. Identify and Follow the Correct Kentucky Legal Name Change Process
Marriage is the most common time for changing a name. Kentucky, like most states, makes it easy by recognizing a valid marriage certificate as proof of name change. Before getting married, apply for a marriage license at the county clerk's office. Once the license is issued and the marriage is performed, request certified copies of the marriage certificate from the clerk's office.
Breaking up is hard to do. When going through a divorce, deciding child custody, splitting up property and assets, and arranging spousal and child support can be contentious issuers. Deciding whether to resume your former name is another one.
In Kentucky, the court handling a divorce can restore a divorced woman's maiden name, or former name, when it issues the decree dissolving the marriage. Be sure to request this from the court – while it's a common practice, it's not automatic. It's easier to go back to your name as part of the divorce than after it is final too, so think long and hard about it.
Once the divorce is finalized, a certified copy of the divorce decree can be used to change your name with government agencies (more on this below).
Petition for a Change of Name
You can also petition a court for an order changing your name. This is a more involved process since it requires initiating a court action, but it's also a flexible one. Whether you want to change your name for personal or family reasons, the petition process is available to most (well-intentioned) Kentuckians.
File a petition for a name change through your county's district court. Parents looking to change their child's name can file a petition on their behalf. The details of the process differ from county to county and court to court in Kentucky, but you should be prepared to do the following:
- Fill out a petition form, giving your details and stating the reason for seeking a name change;
- Prove identity using official documents, such as a birth certificate and driver's license;
- File the petition with the court clerk's office and pay the applicable fees;
- Undergo a criminal background check; and
- Attend a court hearing where a judge will consider your petition.
All states seek to prevent name changes for fraudulent or illegal purposes. Kentucky classifies identity theft as a felony and its courts will seek to ensure a name change isn't being made for any such purposes. Changing your name will not get you out of paying alimony, child support, debts, taxes, money judgments, and similar obligations. It won't let you escape arrest or criminal charges either.
The court can grant the petition and will enter it into the records. Make sure to get copies of the court's order – you'll need it for the next step.
2. File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
You've gotten your name legally changed. Now it's time to get it reflected on your important docs.
Visit a local Social Security office to change your Social Security card first, since the Kentucky requires an updated Social Security card to issue a duplicate driver's license.
When that's completed, apply for a new driver's license within ten days of your name change. An updated Social Security Card and driver's license will allow you to prove your new name and your identity.
3. Start Using Your New Name
Start using your name once you've changed it. Family, friends, neighbors, employers, kids' schools, and others will want to know. Contact your bank, insurance company, credit card companies, and others to update relevant accounts and documents. Kentucky allows you to change your voter registration on Election Day at the polls. Also change your email and social media accounts to avoid confusion.
Get the Forms You Need in Kentucky
Your name change is important. While it's a relatively simple job for a lawyer, consider skipping the expense of hiring one and still avoiding the hassle of researching the law and finding the right paperwork. Our Kentucky name change forms can help.