Most name changes happen at key moments in our lives. Marriage and divorce are common ones, and among the most numerous. Other times, people make changes to their name simply because they want to. There doesn't necessarily have to be a good reason and, with some common sense exceptions, most states allow you to do it. But there's a process to go through when you do, and it depends on when and why you're changing your names.
We'll talk about how to change your name in Oregon, including 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 Oregon Legal Name Change Process
People have been changing their names for centuries. Oregon recognizes this reality and, for the most part, provides a seamless method for legally changing your name during these key moments in life.
Marrying couples have a few options under Oregon law. Any party to a marriage can keep their last name, take their new spouse's surname, or combine their name with their spouse's name with or without hyphenating. Oregon expressly allows you to drop or modify your middle name when changing your last name as well. The same rules also apply for domestic partnerships.
To change your name, simply fill in your application for a marriage license and indicate the name each party will use after the marriage is completed. Once issues, your marriage certificate serves as evidence of your name change.
While divorce can be a long and extensive process, 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, and the name change will be reflected in the final decree dissolving the marriage.
Petition for a Change of Name
If you're not getting married or divorced, or want to change your name in a way that's not part of Oregon's marriage or divorce name change laws, then there's the petition process.
Any person can file an application for change of name with the probate court of the county where they live. Oregon's process is straightforward compared to other states. You'll need to apply and submit the application, post notice as directed by the court before and after the petition is heard, and attend a court proceeding where a judge can hear and decide your application.
There are some restrictions. When a judge determines that the change is 'not consistent with the public interest,' then a name change application can be denied. Some common reasons include fraudulent name changes, illegal name changes, efforts to escape debts, lawsuits, or child support orders, and similar (nefarious) purposes. All states regulate the name change process to prevent fraud and illegality, and Oregon is no different here.
If your name change is granted, then the court will issue an order changing your name. Get a few certified copies of that order – they will be necessary to updating your official documents, like your Social Security card and driver license.
2. File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
Your next step after legally changing your name is more paperwork. Use a certified copy of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or name change court order to update your information at the local Social Security office. Afterwards, change your name on your driver license at an office of the Oregon DMV. You'll receive a new Social Security card and driver license in your new name. Voter registration, car title and registration, and other state records should be updated as well.
3. Start Using Your New Name
Once you have your new name, start using it! Tell family, friends, employers, colleagues, and neighbors about your name change. Banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, and people you owe money to 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 skipping the hassle and expense of hiring an attorney, and check out our Oregon name change forms.