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Gender Non-Conforming Legal Name Change

If you are gender non-conforming and living in Florida, you may not know where to turn to change your legal name.  At Family Diplomacy, we pride ourselves in offering a welcoming environment.  From the moment you contact us, we will listen to and address your concerns, determine your eligibility for a name change, and stand by your side throughout the legal process.

We are here for you.

Gender Non-Conforming Definitions

For those reading this post who may not be familiar with this term, the Human Rights Campaign defines gender non-conforming as “[a] broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. While many also identify as transgender, not all gender non-conforming people do.”

PFLAG, which describes itself as “the first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families, and allies,” defines gender non-conforming as follows:

A term for those who do not follow gender stereotypes. Often an umbrella for nonbinary genders (see TGNC). Though fairly uncommon, some people view the term as derrogatory, so they may use other terms including gender expansive, differently gendered, gender creative, gender variant, genderqueer, nonbinary, agender, genderfluid, gender neutral, bigender, androgynous, or gender diverse. PFLAG National uses the term gender expansive. It is important to respect and use the terms people use for themselves, regardless of any prior associations or ideas about those terms.

For purposes of this article, we use the term gender non-conforming.  However, if you prefer another term, please let us know when you contact us and we will respect your preference.

Eligibility for Florida Gender Non-Conforming Name Change

Regardless of where you were born, if you live in the Sunshine State, Florida courts have jurisdiction to change your legal name.  You may petition for a name change if you are an adult, and a parent may petition on your behalf if you are a child.  Once your petition for change of name is filed, the request will often be granted unless a Court finds that (i) you have improper or illegal motives in seeking the name change, (ii) your civil rights are suspended (for example, by being convicted of a felony), or (iii) granting you a name change will invade the property rights (e.g., intellectual property rights) of others.

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Video: SNL Name Change

This past Saturday, Saturday Night Live returned to the airwaves for its 46th Season.  As a family law lawyer who has helped countless people throughout Florida change their legal names, I was especially intrigued and delighted by the following sketch:

 

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Changing My Transgender Child’s Legal Name

Being a supportive parent can oftentimes be challenging, but you and your transgender child may have come to the conclusion that it is time for a legal name change.  Is it possible to change a transgender child’s name to match his or her identity?

So long as both legal parents are in agreement, in most circumstances you can change your minor child’s legal name.

Petition for Change of Legal Name

In Florida, legal name changes are accomplished through the court system.  Accordingly, you will need to petition a court in the county in which you live for your child’s name change.  The petition must include information such as:

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A New Legal Name for the New Year

The new year can be a time for turning over a new leaf, and it may be a time when you are considering adopting a new legal name.  Whether you are looking to share a last name with a partner, honor a loved one, adjust your name to reflect your gender identity, reconnect with recently discovered family, correct errors on your birth certificate, or just plain refresh your identity, we are a collaborative family law firm that can help you petition for a new legal name.

A New Legal Name Requires a Court Judgment

You may not realize that the process of petitioning for a new legal name is a court process.  In fact, section 68.07 of the Florida Statutes lays out the legal requirement to change your name and what must be filed with the court.  Under the name change law, you must swear under oath whether, among other things, the following apply to you:

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Manafort’s Daughter Changed Her Name, And So Can You!

Do you have a father who has done things that you are not exactly proud of?  Do you have a parent who has gained notoriety in your community?  Are the actions or reputation of a relative beginning to negatively impact you?

Well, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times, Paul Manafort’s daughter decided to do something about it.  Paul Manafort is the former campaign manager to President Trump who was convicted for tax and bank fraud and pleaded guilty to illegal lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian interest.  Because of this and the spectacle it has caused, his daughter decided to legally change her last name.

And, you know what?  In most cases, you, too, can change your legal name.

Required Petition for A Legal Name Change

Section 68.07 of the Florida Statutes lays out the requirements of a name change.

You must file a petition with the court that is signed under oath and includes, among other things, the following information:

  • That you live in the county where you are petitioning for a name change;
  • Whether you have ever gone through bankruptcy;
  • Whether you have ever been arrested for or charged with a crime;
  • Whether you have ever been required to register as a sexual predator or a sexual offender;
  • Whether you have ever been successfully sued;
  • That you are not seeking a name change for any illegal or ulterior purpose; and
  • That your civil rights have never been suspended or, if they have, that your rights have been fully restored.

By the way, just because you have gone through bankruptcy, lost a lawsuit, or have been arrested does not necessarily prevent you from obtaining a name change.

Background Check for A Legal Name Change

You will also need to have your fingerprints electronically scanned for a background check.  The check is conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and FBI to confirm that the information in your petition is correct.

Name Change Lawyer

Once you have filed your petition and completed the background check, in most counties you will need to go in front of a judge to complete the process.  The judge swears you in, and you provide testimony and any evidence that is requested to prove up your petition.

Because the paperwork involved in the name change process can be onerous, and because most people do not have a lot of experience dealing with the court system, you should consider having a name change lawyer by your side throughout the process.

You may relate to Manafort’s daughter’s desire “to separate myself and my work from public perception that has nothing to do with the person that I am.”

We can help you do that.

Will Florida Grant a Transgender Name Change?

The Associated Press is reporting that a transgender man’s request to change his legal name has been rejected by a Georgia Superior Court Judge.  The man, a sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve, wants to change his legal name from Rebeccah Elizabeth Feldhaus to Rowan Elijah Feldhaus.

In rejecting the request, Judge J. David Roper wrote, “The question presented is whether a female has the statutory right to changer her name to a traditionally and obviously male name.  The Court concludes that she does not have such right.”

So would a transgender person’s petition for a change of legal name to reflect their gender identity be granted in Tampa Bay, Greater Sarasota, or elsewhere in Florida?

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Do I Need A Lawyer To Change My Name in Florida?

Many Floridians want to change their legal name.  Sometimes it is because they recently found out that the name they have always used is different than the name on their birth certificate, and they are now unable to renew their driver’s license under the federal REAL ID Act.  Sometimes it is because they want to honor a stepparent or foster parent by taking on a surname.  Sometimes it is because they want to take on a name that matches their gender identification.

And sometimes it is because they simply don’t like their current legal name.

Whatever the reason, many people who do seek a name change wonder, “Do I need a lawyer?”

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Biblical Name Changes

Floridians seeking to change their legal name can take comfort in the fact that changing one’s name has a long history rooted in the Hebrew Bible.  A great article in the Jewish Encyclopedia titled “Shinnuy Ha-Shem”  (which translates roughly as “Changing the Name”) discusses biblical name changes.

In the book of Genesis we learn that forefather Abram changed his name to Abraham, and foremother Sarai changed her name to Sarah.

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Pee-Wee Herman’s Name Change

Many of us remember Pee-Wee Herman from the Groundlings and children’s programming and movies in the 1980’s.  More recently, you may have seen Paul Reubens, the man who plays Pee-Wee, appear on various TV shows, including the Blacklist, Portlandia, and Reno 911.

File:PaulReubens as Pee-Wee.png

But, what you may not know is before Paul Reubens was Pee-Wee Herman, he was Paul Rubenfeld.

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Name Change

If you live in Tampa Bay, Greater Sarasota, or elsewhere in Florida and you are looking to change your legal name, Family Diplomacy: A Collaborative Law Firm can help you.  Whether you seek to correct your birth certificate, honor a loved one, or turn a new leaf in life, Family Diplomacy will sit down with you and set a plan for moving forward.

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