Change your name in California
This guide can help you:
- Change your name or your child's name
- Understand your options if your child's other parent asked to change their name
- Find out where to update your name on identity documents
If you already changed your name and need a copy of a court order, contact the court where your case was filed.
Ready to start name change process?
The steps and forms you need to fill out vary depending on your situation. Answer a few questions to get the right set of instructions.
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You can legally change your name by filing papers in court. If a judge agrees, they will give you a court order that states your new legal name. You need this order to change your name on identity documents, like your driver’s license, passport, or social security card.
Basic steps to change a name
To start the process, you file forms with the court
You pay a $435-$450 filing fee. If you can’t afford the fee, you can ask the court to waive it. The clerk will give you a date when a judge will make a decision.
A judge will make a decision in about 2 to 3 months, after you complete a few more steps.
Before a judge can decide, you must have the forms published in a newspaper for one month. This means that the request shows up in a legal notice section of a paper. There’s a fee to publish in a newspaper.
If you’re asking to change your child’s name, your child's other parent may need to get a copy of your request. This is called serving court papers.
After you get the court order, you will use it to have your identity documents updated.
Consider other ways to change a name
There are other ways to change your name if it is related to marriage, divorce, or becoming a U.S. citizen.
- How to change your name through marriage license application process.
- How to change your name as part of your divorce case. You can do this even if you were divorced years ago.
- How to change your name as part of the naturalization process.
To correct a clerical error on a legal identity document, contact the agency that issues legal identity documents.
Start a name change
Answer a few questions to get step-by-step instructions.
Respond to other parent's name change request
Get step-by-step information on ways to respond if your child's other parent asked to change your child's name (you were served a Form NC-120).
Update your IDs
If you already changed your name legally, get information on how to update your legal documents (like Social Security Card or Drivers License).