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If You Want a Legal Name Change in Florida, Know Thyself

Florida permits most people who want to change their legal name to do so, but there are some hoops to jump through.

You must file a legal document, known as a petition, in the circuit court of the county in which you reside.  The petition must include extensive information regarding you and your history, including all addresses at which you have lived since birth. 

In other words, before filing the petition, you must know thyself, and gather all appropriate information about you.

Keep in mind that you will likely have to go through a background check through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, so it is best to be as thorough and up front in the petition as possible.

A judge will review your petition, and he or she may require you to appear in court and provide testimony about the request to change your name.  This is mainly done to ensure that you are not requesting the change for an illegal or ulterior purpose.

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Where In Tampa Bay Can I Get Fingerprinted For My Legal Name Change?

If you want to get your legal name changed in Florida, and you are not getting married or divorced, you will probably need to submit fingerprints for a state and national background check.  Pursuant to Florida Statute section 68.07, the fingerprints must be submitted electronically, and they will be reviewed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

So where do you submit fingerprints electronically?

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Correcting Your Birth Certificate in Florida

Since the passage of the Federal REAL ID Act of 2005, more and more Florida residents are finding that they cannot renew their Florida Driver’s License because the name printed on their birth certificate or social security card does not match the name they have been using.

It could be because they assumed the use of a name without changing any of their official  documents.  It could be because of a spelling error on the birth certificate or social security card. Or it could be because they have unknowingly been going by a name different from the name printed on their birth certificate.  These problems can usually be corrected by petitioning for a legal change of name.

Here’s an example:  I had a client whom I will refer to as “Jane Smith.”    She was born in New York, and now she lives in Pasco County, Florida.  She’s been known her whole life as Jane Smith, her parents always called her Jane Smith, and so, for good reason, she thought her name was Jane Smith.

One day, Jane helps her mother clean out her attic.  While going through some boxes, Jane finds a New York birth certificate for a “Jamie Smith.”  What is more, Jamie Smith’s date of birth is listed as one day earlier than the day Jane Smith has been celebrating her birthday.

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Man Legally Changes His Name To Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop Bop-Bop

Different names sound strange to different people.  I have come across names, both foreign and domestic, that I sometimes have trouble pronouncing.  But this one is a doozey: Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop Bop-Bop.

Beezow, a Wisconsin man formerly known as Jeffrey Drew Wilschke, has not had much success since his name change: According to CBS News, Mr. Bop-Bop was recently arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a probation violation.  This has led to an outcry for the freedom of Beezow, including the following clip:

So, in Florida could you legally change your name to Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop Bop-Bop?  You may be surprised, but the answer is…probably yes.

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