Some states are very restrictive in their requirements to change a person’s legal name. Fortunately, Florida is relatively permissive, and Family Diplomacy has successfully represented dozens of clients to help get their name legally changed.
What follows is a step-by-step guide on how someone can request a change of name in Florida.
- Fill out a petition for change of name. The petition is a pretty in depth document that requires information such as your employment history for the past 5 years, your education history, your criminal history (if any), and all of your addresses since you were born.
- Execute the petition. You will need to properly execute the petition in front of a notary or it will be rejected by the clerk of the court or the judge.
- File the petition. File the petition with the clerk of the court in the county in which you reside and pay the filing fee.
- Provide electronic fingerprints. You will need to go to a LiveScan provider to have your fingerprints scanned electronically. Your fingerprints will be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which will do a background check to ensure that you were truthful in your petition. Make sure to provide the clerk of the court identifier number to your LiveScan provider, as the results of the background check will be sent directly to the clerk of the court.
- Schedule a final hearing. It normally takes a few days for your background check to be processed and sent to the clerk of the court. Once the background check has been received, contact the judicial assistant in your case to schedule a final hearing.
- Appear at the final hearing. You will need to show up at the final hearing, where the judge will put you under oath and you will be expected to prove to the court that you are eligible for a name change and that your request is not for any illegal or ulterior purposes.
- Obtain certified copies of the final judgment of change of name. Some institutions, such as the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles or your bank may require that you provide them with certified copies of your final judgment, so you should get at least 5 certified copies.
There are reasons that your request for a change of name may be rejected. If you do not fill out or execute the petition properly, for example, the petition will likely be rejected. If your civil rights are suspended (e.g., by being convicted of a felony and not receiving a restoration of rights) or if the judge thinks that you are trying to change your name for fraudulent reasons, then your request will not be granted.
As mentioned above, we have helped many clients successfully change their legal name, including clients who initially attempted to go through the process themselves before realizing they needed legal assistance.
You may also note that there are different procedures if you are looking to restore a maiden name or a former name.