How to Change Your Name in Alabama

Three Parts:Gathering Important InformationCompleting the PetitionFollowing Through after the Petition is Granted

There are many reasons for changing a name, such as for religious purposes or because of a divorce. In some cases, people simply don’t like their current name. As long as your reason doesn't harm the public interest, there’s a good chance a court will grant your request. In Alabama, you make this request by filing a “Petition for Change of Name” with the county Probate court. Here’s what’s involved.

Part 1
Gathering Important Information

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    Determine if you’re eligible. It doesn't do much good to go through the name-change process, only to find out in the end that you don’t qualify. Here are some things to be aware of:
    • You have to be 19 years of age or older to file the request
    • You can’t make the request to avoid paying a debt or a judgment against you, or to defraud someone
    • You must not be a convicted Criminal Sex Offender (under Alabama law) or a defendant in a criminal proceeding.[1]
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    Compile the identification documents you’ll need. Although required documentation varies from county to county, prepare to provide the following:
    • A certified copy of your birth certificate (not a photocopy)
    • Proof of residency, such as a lease, deed or utility bill (some Probate courts may require two such documents)
    • A driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID
    • Your social security card.[2]
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    Find a copy of your marriage certificate or divorce decree. If you changed your name when you got married or divorced, the Probate court may want to review these papers. [3]
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    Collect additional documents if you’re requesting a name change for a minor. If you’re looking to change the name of someone under 19 years old (a minor in Alabama), there’s additional paperwork you may need, such as:
    • A certified copy of the minor child’s birth certificate
    • The child’s social security card
    • Proof that the father listed on the name-change Petition is the child’s natural father (if his name isn’t on the child’s birth certificate). A certified copy of the court order or blood test confirming this will be required
    • A certified copy of any court order terminating the parental rights of the child’s father or mother, if applicable.[4]

Part 2
Completing the Petition

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    Obtain the Petition form from the Probate court. Find the Probate court in your county. This information should be readily available online. Odds are, the Probate court will have its own website. You can get the Petition for Change of Name at the Probate court clerk’s office. The forms may also be available on the Probate court’s website.
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    Fill out the form as completely as possible. Although the Petition isn’t too long, it’s crucial that the information requested be accurate. Failure to answer a question (like your reason for requesting the name change), or providing an incomplete answer, could possibly lead to the Probate court clerk's office rejecting the Petition.
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    Sign the Petition in the presence of a notary public. If the Petition isn’t notarized, it won’t be accepted. If the Petition is for a minor, both parents must sign in the notary’s presence.[5]
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    Check with the Probate court clerk to see if you have to obtain a criminal background check. Some county Probate courts require a criminal background check. Either they’ll do it for you (usually there’s an authorization in the Petition) or they may require you to get it yourself.[6]
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    Determine the filing fee for the Petition. The Probate courts will charge you for filing the Petition. Find out the fee in advance, and see if they accept personal checks and/or credit cards.
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    Take the Petition to the Probate court clerk’s office for filing. Make sure you have everything you need, including all the documentation you’ve gathered, the filing fee, and the results of the criminal background check (if you had to do it yourself).
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    Attend the hearing. Some county Probate courts will require you to attend a hearing before they’ll grant you the name-change. Usually the hearing involves going over items in your Petition, including answering any questions the Probate judge might have about the Petition or the documents you've provided. This is perfectly normal, and the fact that the court requires a hearing doesn't mean there’s a problem with your request.[7]

Part 3
Following Through after the Petition is Granted

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    Get a new social security card. Once the Probate court gives you the official document changing your name, you still have a lot of work to do. Applying for a new social security card should be a top priority. You can get more information on this at http://www.socialsecurity.gov.[8]
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    Change your driver’s license and other motor vehicle documentation. In Alabama, you’ll need to contact the local motor vehicle office and the Department of Public Safety. Check http://www.dmv.org/al-alabama/dmv-office-finder.php#AL-Department-of-Public-Safety-DPS-Offices for more information.
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    Obtain a new birth certificate. You can do this by contacting the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Montgomery, Alabama.[9]
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    Contact credit card companies and banks. You’ll probably need to have new credit and/or debit cards issued with your new name. Also reach out to your bank, regarding any accounts, loans, etc. that may require attention because of the name change. You’ll undoubtedly find other companies that you may want to notify, as you move forward.

Tips

  • Make a written list of the documents and other items you’ll need to bring to the Probate court clerk’s office. Check off each item on the list before you bring the Petition to be filed.
  • If the minor child whose name you’re seeking to change is over 14 years of age, his or her consent will be required. [10]
  • If requesting a name-change for a minor, you may need an attorney in certain situations (such as if one of the parents refuses to consent to the name-change). [11]
  • Before you go to the motor vehicle office, you must first update your information with the Social Security Administration.[12]

Article Info

Categories: Name Changes