Most people change their name when getting married or divorced. This can be a relatively easy process especially when it's done with a marriage application or through an existing divorce proceeding. However, if you're looking to change your name for any other reason, you'll need to petition a Mississippi chancery court for an order officially changing your name.
Once complete, your Mississippi marriage license, divorce decree, or court order changing your name can be used to update Social Security cards, state driver's licenses, and other records.
Sound complicated? Don't worry, there's no need to come out of the process looking rode hard and put away wet. While a name change involves a legal proceeding, it's a relatively straightforward one often not requiring a lawyer. We'll cover how to change your name in Mississippi here, including:
- How to change your name, depending on your situation;
- Figuring out what to do, when, and where; and
- How to make your name change final and official.
1. Legally Change Your Name in Mississippi
When Getting Married
Most name changes happen when getting married. While there's no legal requirement to take a spouse's name, it's still very common. Spouses can also potentially conjoin their names, hyphenate them, or agree to some other form of name change.
Mississippi, like most states, permits marrying couples to change their name when applying for a marriage license. Simply fill out the application form with the new name, noting a former name, and submit it along with all other required information to the clerk of the county circuit court's office.
Eventually, you'll receive a certified copy of your marriage certificate. Keep that document, as it can be used to update your Social Security card, driver's license, and other important records.
When Getting Divorced
When marital bliss gives way to a divorce, resuming a former name is a common choice. There's good news and bad news here. The bad news is that you will have to go through what can be a long, painful, and often trying divorce proceeding. A marriage is a legal union, and a divorce decree is required to legally dissolve it. The good news is that you can take your name back as part of those proceedings.
It's usually routine to change your name back to what it was before marriage or at birth, and the court handling your divorce can include an order to that effect in the final divorce decree.
Petition for a Change of Name
Your last option is to petition a court for an order changing your name. This is more involved of a process than filling out a marriage license or tacking it onto a divorce. But it's there for any sort of name change and can be used at any time.
Mississippi law gives the chancery court of the county where you live the jurisdiction to hear a name change petition. You'll have to be an adult over the age of 21 to file the petition and you should expect to do the following:
- Fill out a petition with your personal information;
- Sign the petition before a notary public;
- File the completed petition and any supporting documentation with the chancery court clerk; and
- Potentially attend a court hearing to consider the request.
You can't change your name to avoid a crime, debt, child support obligation, spousal support obligation, or anything like that. People facing other civil restrictions, such as those imposed by imprisonment or as conditions of parole, may also face a higher hurdle in changing their names.
It's also important to be open and public about a name change. Name change laws have historically expressed concerns about name changes done for fraudulent reasons.
If the court grants your name change petition, you'll receive a court order making it legal and official. Get a certified copy of the order, since it'll be necessary to change other vital records.
2. File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
With your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order in hand, your next stop is the local Social Security office. Update your name in their database and receive a revised Social Security card. Then, you can visit the Mississippi Department of Public Safety to receive an updated driver's license or ID card. Your Social Security card and driver's license are the two most important identifying documents you'll likely have, so make sure they're updated with your new name.
3. Start Using Your New Name
Your new name is now fully, legally, yours. So start using it! You should let family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances know that you've changed your name. Banks, creditors, utilities, insurance companies, and other organizations should be told as well. Make sure you update your email and social media accounts as well.
Get the Forms You Need in Mississippi
While some people might want an attorney's help to change their name, often this is just a routine legal process that most people can do on their own. Consider avoiding the paperwork, confusion, and stress of starting from scratch by using our Mississippi name change forms.