Who says "show me" in Missouri? Well, actually, quite a few people, government agencies, and perhaps some banks and businesses when you tell them you've changed your name.
Missouri allows you to change your name when getting married, divorced, and through petitioning a court for a change of name order. Each process differs a bit, so figuring out how to change your name is Missouri depends on your situation. We'll show you how to:
- Identify the right process for you;
- Figure out what paperwork should be filed; and
- Start using your new name.
1. Identify and Follow the Correct Missouri Legal Name Change Process
Statistically speaking, most name changes occur when you get married. A large majority of women still take their husband's last name. Other arrangements are made too, such as hyphenating last names, or same-sex spouses taking the other's name.
Because changing last names after marriage is so common, it's also pretty easy. You can change your name when applying for a Missouri marriage license. When filling out the application form, list your new last name along with your birth name. Once it's official, the certified marriage certificate is proof of a name change.
Sometimes "together" doesn't turn out to be "forever." It's common for people who changed their last name to get married to go back to their former name after divorce.
While Missouri's divorce process can be lengthy, going back to your former name is not. When filing the petition for divorce or responding to it, you can ask the court to change your name back to a former name. Assuming there are no larger issues, this happens routinely, and the court will include the name change in the final decree of divorce.
Petition for a Change of Name
Your next best option is to petition a local court. Missouri law permits every person to change their name via petition. While this is a fairly routine legal task, it's more involved than the marriage license and divorce route we just covered. You will have to:
- Fill out an application form;
- Verify the petition by filing an affidavit;
- Tell the court why you want to change your name;
- Give details of any money judgments against you;
- Inform the court of any lawsuits pending against you;
- State the name change will not be detrimental to anyone else.
Missouri doesn't necessarily require a court hearing for a name change petition, but if it's contested in any way expect one. A judge will then consider your petition and, if satisfied that the desired name change is proper and not detrimental to anyone else, can grant the petition.
You'll then have to publish notice of your name change in a local newspaper for three weeks. Once proof of publication is filed with the court, it'll issue a certified copy of the order or judgment. That's the legal proof of a name change you need.
A name change is a serious endeavor. You can't change your name to escape obligations and debts, such as spousal and child support, judgments against you, or creditors. Any illegal or fraudulent purpose behind changing names is a no go as well. And the court does have some discretion, so it's not automatic.
2. File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
Your certified marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order is proof of your name change. Show them to your local Social Security office to update your Social Security card and the Department of Revenue to change your driver license. Once you receive a new Social Security card and driver license, you can show them to anyone else as needed.
3. Start Using Your New Name
Most states' primary concern in name changes is to prevent fraud. You should start using your new name once it's changed and keep using it consistently. Let family, friends, and neighbors know. Inform your employer, bank, and insurance company too. Update your email and social media profiles as necessary.
Get the Forms You Need in Missouri
Changing your name can be an expensive process if you hire an attorney. The good news is that it doesn't have to cost you time figuring out the paperwork or the money to hire an attorney. You can use our Missouri name change forms without paying for an expensive lawyer.