Minnesota is a state that likes its names. The North Star State, the Gopher State, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the State of Hockey – there are a lot to choose from. When it comes to our own personal names, however, it can get more complicated. We're born with our names, issued driver's licenses in our names, and sign papers using our names. So when we decide to use a new name, there's a bit more involved.
This article covers how to change your name in Minnesota. We'll discuss how to:
- Identify the right process for you;
- Determine what paperwork should be filed; and
- Start using your new name.
1. Identify and Follow the Correct Minnesota Legal Name Change Process
Most commonly, people change names when getting married. While it's no longer required for women to take their husbands' last name, roughly 80% of women still change their names. Marital name changes are not limited by sex or gender in the North Star State.
Minnesota allows people to change their name when applying for a state marriage license. Simply fill out the application form and, when prompted, enter the full names you and your partner will use. Please note that you should fill in your current, premarital names and your post-marital names in separate parts of Minnesota's marriage license application form. Once issued, a copy of marriage certificate can prove a name change.
It's not at all uncommon to say goodbye to your ex and their last name at the same time. A name change following divorce can mean a clean break. Some parents, though, prefer to keep their married name, either out of personal preference or to keep the same last name as their children. There's no right or wrong choice when going through divorce.
Minnesota courts will change the name of a party to a divorce action on request. This is a common request and saves people from a separate proceeding. Once the final decree of divorce is handed down the name change will be included. Get a certified copy of this decree.
Petition for a Change of Name
You can change your name on other occasions too. Minnesota law provides a process for residents to petition a court to change their name. This is a stand-alone process and will involve initiating a separate court action. Residents of six months standing will have to:
- Fill out a petition form stating your reasons for seeking a name change, and submit it to the local state district court
- Provide a description of all lands in Minnesota where you claim any interest in land. This is used to update real estate records;
- Undergo a state and federal criminal history check;
- Arrange for a court hearing date and attend in person;
- Prove your identity before the court using at least two witnesses;
- Convince the judge hearing your case to change your name.
States and their courts seek to guard against fraudulent or illegal name changes. Changing your name to avoid debts, a lawsuit, or criminal charges is prohibited. Minnesota makes it a misdemeanor to give false statements with an intent to defraud anyone during a name change proceeding.
Public policy concerns impose additional requirements on some categories of people. Minnesota requires convicted felons to notify the prosecuting authority of a name change – caused either by marriage, divorce, or petition. State prison inmates face limits on the number of name changes they can request.
Once satisfied, a court can issue an order changing your name. The order is documented in the court's records, and you can obtain certified copies.
2. File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
A marriage license, divorce decree, or court order is used to prove a name change. Now be sure to update your day-to-day identification documents. Visit your local Social Security office and, once that's completed, go down to the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services office to receive a new driver's license.
3. Start Using Your New Name
You've gone through the trouble of getting your name change. So start using it! Tell family, friends, employers, colleagues, and neighbors. Be sure to inform your bank, creditors, insurance company, and similar contacts as well. Update your email and social media accounts too. It's important to consistently use your new name.
Get the Forms You Need in Minnesota
A name change is important to you, whether for marriage, divorce, or otherwise. Make sure you do it right. Consider skipping the hassle of assembling the proper forms or the expense of hiring an attorney by using our Minnesota name change forms.