Your name is part of who you are. We're given it at birth. We grow up with it. We grow old with it. And, at key moments in life, we might decide to change it.
Common reasons for changing your name include:
- Following a divorce
- Family reasons
- To have a name that aligns more closely with gender identity
Whatever the reason, the law permits people to change their names.
This article explains how to change your name in the State of Ohio. Read on to:
- Identify the right process for you
- Figure out what paperwork should be filed
- Learn why it's important to start using your new name
Identify and Follow the Correct Ohio Legal Name Change Process
How to change your name depends on your situation.
Most states make it easy for people to change their names after getting married or divorced. On the other hand, changing your name at other times will require going to court.
A court order provides legal proof of a name change. The process protects the public from name changes made for fraudulent reasons (like getting out of a lawsuit or skipping debt repayments).
Name Changes During Marriage
Planning on getting married? Perhaps the easiest time to change your name is during the marriage license application process.
Ohio courts permit marrying individuals to take another last name (surname) when applying for an Ohio marriage license. The valid marriage certificate serves as proof of a name change. This is issued after you have filed your marriage license and completed your marriage ceremony.
A certified copy of your marriage certificate can be used to prove you have changed to your current name.
Note: Certified or original copies are the necessary proof needed for:
- The Social Security Administration to issue you a new Social Security card
- The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (OhioBMV) to issue you an updated Ohio driver's license
Name Changes During Divorce
When splitting up your assets and deciding on child custody issues, what to do about your last name can be a tough call.
Some divorcing spouses keep their last names to match their child's last names. Other individuals may want to shed their former spouse's last name as soon as possible.
Ohio permits a person to restore any name from before the marriage. This name must be a previous name, though.
The name restoration is done as part of the state's divorce process. The name change will be incorporated into the final decree of divorce (court order).
Like a marriage certificate, the divorce decree serves as your proof of a name change. Make sure to obtain a certified copy to bring along with you to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (Ohio BMV).
Adult or Minor Name Change Petition
Any other name change involves a long legal process. Ohio law permits its residents to file a name change application with their county probate court.
- Have resided in Ohio for at least one year
- Explain why you want to change your name
- Tell the court what your requested new name is
- Mention if you're a registered sex offender or child-victim offender
Prohibited Name Changes
Ohio's judicial system does place some restrictions on the name change process. The system is designed to deter and avoid illegality, fraud, and misunderstanding.
You can't change your name to avoid the law, escape your debts, get out of a lawsuit, or avoid other legal issues.
Ohio prevents registered sex offenders and child-victim offenders from changing their names as well.
Proof of Publication Requirement
Ohio requires notice of a name change application to be filed in a local newspaper. This needs to happen at least 30 days before your court hearing.
You'll want to arrange notice with your local court clerk's office and newspaper of general circulation.
The notice has to include:
- The court where the application is filed
- The case number
- The date and time of the hearing
The idea is that the publication informs people, businesses, and anyone interested in a name change. When the requirements are met, the court will decide whether to grant the application. The resulting court order legally changes your name.
File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
Your name change matters to other government organizations or official documents.
Social Security Card Name Change
Once your name is legally changed, you should contact your local SSA office to start updating your Social Security card.
Note: Your social security number itself will not change when you update your name on file with the SSA. You will need to get a new card that associates the new name with your social security number.
Driver's License Name Change
You need to contact the Ohio BMV to update your current driver's license. Be prepared to show your legal proof of name change – marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order – when going through the BMV.
Other identity documents and official records should be updated, such as:
- Voter's registration
- Car title and registration
- Agencies such as insurance and credit card companies
Start Using Your New Name
It's important to start using your new name. Tell your family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
Update your records, change your email and social media accounts, and generally let the world know about your name change. It'll make things easier for you and allow other people and businesses to update their info.
Get the Forms You Need in Ohio
You don't have to go it alone to change your name in Ohio. Avoid the paperwork, stress, and hassle by using FindLaw's Ohio name change forms. The best part is that all the research has already been done for you. Find the right form for you and get the process started today.
Questions along the way? FindLaw has an attorney directory that can help connect you with a lawyer in your area to provide legal advice on the name change process.