Most name changes happen at key moments in our lives, such as marriage or divorce. You might wish to change your current name to align with your gender identity. Other times, people make changes to their names simply because they want to.
There doesn't necessarily have to be a reason to change your name, however. With some common sense exceptions, most states allow you to do it.
No matter the reason, there's a process to go through for name changes. It depends on when and why you're changing your name.
We'll talk about how to change your name in the State of Oregon, including how to:
- Identify the right process for you
- Figure out what paperwork should be filed
- Start using your new name
Identify and Follow the Correct Oregon Legal Name Change Process
People have been changing their names for centuries. Oregon recognizes this reality.
For the most part, Oregon courts provide a seamless method for legally changing your name during these key moments in life.
Name Change Process During a Marriage
Married couples have a few options under Oregon law. Any party in the marriage can:
- Keep their last name
- Take their new spouse's surname
- Combine their name with their spouse's name (with or without hyphenating)
Note: Oregon allows you to drop or modify your middle name when changing your last name as well. The same rules also apply to domestic partnerships.
To change your name, you will simply fill in your application for a marriage license. You must indicate the name each party will use after the marriage is completed.
Your marriage certificate serves as evidence of your name change once issued by the court.
Name Change Process During a Divorce
Divorce can be a long and extensive process. However, changing your name back to a pre-marital or maiden name can be done at the same time quite painlessly.
Oregon law gives the judge handling a divorce the power to restore either spouse's name from before the marriage upon request.
Requests are routinely granted in ordinary circumstances. The final decree dissolving the marriage will reflect the name change.
Petition for Change of Name
If you're not getting married or divorced, you will need to follow the petition for change of name process.
This is required if you want to change your name in a way that's not part of Oregon's marriage or divorce name change laws.
Adult Name Change Process
Any Oregonian can file an application for a change of name with the circuit court of the county in Oregon where they live. Oregon's process is straightforward compared to other states.
You'll need to:
- Apply and submit the name change request application
- Post a notice as directed by the court before and after the petition is heard
- Attend a court proceeding where a judge can hear and decide your application
There are some restrictions. A name change application can be denied if a judge determines the change is 'not consistent with the public interest.'
Some common reasons for denying a name change include:
- Fraudulent name changes
- Illegal name changes
- Efforts to escape debts
- Pending lawsuits
- Child support orders
- Similar illegal, criminal or negative purposes
All states regulate the name change process to prevent fraud and illegality. Oregon is no different here.
If your name change is granted, then the court clerk will issue an order to change your name. Get a few certified copies of that order. They will be necessary to update your official documents, like your Social Security card and driver's license.
Minor Child Name Change Process
Your minor child may want to change their name, or you might want to change your child's name on their behalf. The process varies depending on several factors:
- The age of the child
- The reason for the change (example: correcting an incorrect record)
- What type of name change specifically (example: removals or additions to the name)
The Oregon Health Authority lays out the filing fee and documentation required for updating a minor child's name. It also explains whether you can get an updated birth certificate at the same time.
There are statewide forms for a minor name change as well as county-specific forms, depending on where you live in Oregon.
Note: any minor name change requires a hearing before a decision is made. These hearings typically last about fifteen minutes and discuss the name change petition. They can also discuss the assignment of a legal guardian, if there is not already a suitable adult acting on the minor's behalf.
File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
Your next step after legally changing your name is more paperwork.
Social Security Card
Use a certified copy of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or name change court order to update your information at the local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. The SSA will need a few documents to prove your age, citizenship, and identity.
Once you provide those documents, you will complete your in-person appointment at a local branch of the SSA.
After those steps are complete, you will receive an updated social security card with your new name. It will include the social security number that you were assigned at birth. This number does not change; only your name on the card does.
Change the name on your driver's license at an office of the Oregon DMV. You will need to visit the DMV in person to make this change.
Bring along documentation that proves your name change (your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or name change order). Upon presenting proof and paying a filing fee, you'll receive a new driver's license in your new name.
Voter registration, car title and registration, and other state records should be updated as well. For example, car registration can be updated with your new name through an application that you mail to the DMV. You can also change your car's title and the title fee.
Last Step: Start Using Your New Name
Start using your new name at any time in the process, and especially once the legal work is done. Tell your family, friends, employers, colleagues, and neighbors about your name change.
Banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, and other organizations or companies should be told as well. It's also a good idea to update your email and social media accounts to avoid confusion.
Get the Forms You Need in Oregon
Changing your name doesn't have to be an ordeal. Consider reducing the paperwork involved and check out FindLaw's Oregon name change forms.
For personalized advice and help with the name change process, consider Search FindLaw's Attorney Directory for a family law lawyer who can assist you.