Do you dislike your name? Perhaps, you have gone by a middle name, nick name, or shortened version of your name for a majority of your life. Now, legal documents such as your driver’s license, passport or social security card are the only places where your birth name exists. Why not legally change your name? Generally, the process is quick and inexpensive. Scura, Wigfield, Heyer, Stevens & Cammarota LLP is a multi-practice law firm capable of handling your name change and other legal needs.
Why Change Your Name?
Most name changes are necessitated by a marriage or divorce. If you’re seeking to change your name due to a marriage or divorce, you may disregard the steps below and contact the Social Security Administration offices directly.
Many other people elect to change their name based on personal preferences, to preserve a matriarchal family name, or to incorporate a step-parent’s name. The paragraphs below describe the process that is required to legally change your name in these situations.
The Name Change Process
In order to legally change your name, you must obtain a Final Judgment from the Superior Court of New Jersey. This process is begun by the filing of a Complaint for a Change of Name with a sworn affidavit stating the applicant’s name, date of birth, social security number, whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime, and whether any criminal charges are pending against him or her. N.J.S.A. 2A:52-1. The applicant must also swear that the name change is not being instituted for purposes of avoiding or obstructing criminal prosecution, to avoid creditors, or to perpetrate a crime or civil fraud.
Once the case is filed, the court will set a hearing date and provide an Order Fixing Date of Hearing. If criminal charges are pending against the applicant, the Complaint and Order Fixing Date of Hearing must be sent to the prosecutor in the County where the charges are pending. The Order Fixing Date of Hearing must also be published, in a newspaper designated by the court, sufficiently prior to the hearing date. Once the hearing is conducted, and all interested parties have been heard, the court will grant or deny the Final Judgment. If Final Judgment is granted, it will contain the applicant’s new name and the date upon which the applicant may legally begin using it. Finally, the Final Judgment must be published like the Order Fixing Date of Hearing was and sent to the appropriate governmental agencies. On the date specified in the Final Judgment, the applicant assumes the new name and can no longer use the old name. N.J.S.A. 2A:52-2. The name change has no effect on law suits or other legal proceedings commenced against the applicant, in his or her original name, prior to the Final Judgment. N.J.S.A. 2A:52-3.
Getting Help Changing Your Name
The reasons you may want to change your name are uniquely personal. The New Jersey legislature and courts have provided a fairly simple and fast process by which a person can legally change their name. It is always advised that you consult an attorney prior to taking any legal action. If you are considering changing your name or just want to know more about the process, please contact our offices for a consultation.