Family Law : Name Changes

What are some of the reasons why I might want to change my name?

There are various reasons to change your name under Ohio law.

Certain events, such as marriage or divorce, may trigger court-approved name changes.

Other persons simply adopt and use a new name or instead file a petition for a name change in probate court.

In a probate court action for a name change, the court will consider the person’s reasons for requesting the name change and deciding whether to approve the requested change of name.

It is much more difficult for you to change your children’s names than to change your own name, especially if the other parent objects to changing the children’s names.

How do you get a name change in Ohio?

In a divorce case, the wife may ask the court to change her last name to her maiden name, and the court may then include the name change in the final divorce decree.  Otherwise, there are two ways for someone to legally change their name.

First, a person may simply "assume" a new name if it is done for an "honest" purpose and not for fraudulent purposes such as using an alias to avoid creditors or escape prosecution.  You can "assume" a new name simply by using that name in all future transactions, relationships, etc.

Second, in Ohio, a person can obtain a court order for a formal change of name by filing an application requesting a name change in the local probate court, getting a hearing date for a hearing on your petition for a name change, and publishing notice of your petition and hearing date in a local newspaper of general circulation once at least 30 days before the hearing on the application, and testifying at the court hearing as to your reasons for requesting the name change.  Again, you cannot request and obtain a name change for the purpose of avoiding creditors, evading criminal prosecution or investigation, or for other fraudulent purposes.

If you apply for a name change for your children, you will usually also have to serve a copy of your petition and notice of the hearing date on the other parent or file the other parent’s written consent to the name change.  Courts are often reluctant to change the children's last names over their father's objections.  However, if there are good reasons for doing so, such as making the names of the children and the custodial parent consistent, the court may grant the petition to change the children's names.

Remember: If you are a victim of domestic violence, change your Social Security number (SSN) before you change your name, and do the same for your children if you are also seeking to change their last names.

For more information on domestic violence visit the Ohio Domestic Violence Resource Center.

See also the Forms & Education tab in this section for more information.

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