File a Petition to Change Your Name

The court process of getting a court order after filing a Petition for Change of Name can take up to 3 months. First, you file your petition. Then, you will get a court date between 6 and 12 weeks away. If you follow all the required steps and the court approves your request, you will get a court order called a "decree" changing your name. Some courts are busier than others and it may take longer. Make sure you read the instructions carefully. Some apply a little differently if you are changing your name to conform to your gender identity, or in other special situations. It is all explained in each of the steps below, so make sure you read everything.

To ask the court to change your name, follow these steps:


1. Fill out your court forms

Fill out these forms:

Some courts also require you to fill out local forms to ask for a name change, like a criminal background information form. Ask your local court clerk if there are local forms you have to fill out. You may be able to find your court's local form on your superior court's website. Make sure to keep copies of any local forms you fill out.

IMPORTANT:
  • Gender identity cases: If you are changing your name to conform to your gender identity, make sure to check box 6 on Form NC-100.
  • Address confidentiality cases: If you are changing your name and you are in the State Witness Program or you are in the address confidentiality program and are changing your name to avoid domestic violence or stalking or are a victim of sexual assault (or asking for a name change on behalf of a victim of sexual assault), make sure you explain in the Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Form NC-110) because it will affect the steps you have to follow to change your name. You can find out more on item 7 on page 2 of Form NC-100 and on the Information Sheet for Name Change Proceedings Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (Form NC-400-INFO).

2. Have your forms reviewed

If your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center helps people with name change cases, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.

3. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms

The court will keep the original. One copy is for you; the other is for the publication in a newspaper.

Important: You may not need an extra copy for the publication in the newspaper because you may not need to publish your name change request. Read Step 5 below carefully to find out if you need to publish your request in the newspaper.

4. File your forms with the court clerk

The clerk will stamp your forms with “Filed,” keep the original and return the copies to you. The Order to Show Cause will have information on your court date, time, and department number. 

You will have to pay a filing fee. Find out how much the filing fee is for a first petition (sometimes called a “first appearance” or “first papers”). If you cannot afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver.

5. Publish the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (If Required)

In most cases you must publish the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (Form NC-120) in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for 4 weeks in a row. Your court most likely has a list of newspapers that are approved for publishing legal notices.

IMPORTANT: 
  • Gender identity cases: If you are changing your name to conform to your gender identity, you do NOT have to publish the Order to Show Cause (Form NC-120). 
  • Address confidentiality cases: If you are changing your name and you are in the State Witness Program, or you are in the address confidentiality program and are changing your name to avoid domestic violence or stalking or are a victim of sexual assault (or asking for a name change on behalf of a victim of sexual assault), you will likely not have to publish the Order to Show Cause either. Find out more under Item 7 of page 2 of Form NC-100 or on the Information Sheet for Name Change Proceedings Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (Form NC-400-INFO). If you do not have to publish the Order to Show Cause, just go to your court hearing on the date written on your Form NC-120. 

The cost for publication can vary greatly between newspapers and your court fee waiver will not waive your publication fees. So it is very important that you check the price of publishing BEFORE you put the name of the newspaper in the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name. This is because once the judge signs the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name you must publish in the newspaper listed on the form. You cannot change the form after it is signed by the judge.

6. Go to your court hearing

Go to court on your hearing date. Take your proof that the Order to Show Cause was published in the newspaper (if you were required to publish your Order to Show Cause). Also take the Decree Changing Name (Form NC-130) for the judge to sign.

7. Get your Decree Changing Name from the court

If the judge approves your request for a change of name, the judge will sign the Decree Changing Name (Form NC-130). Once you get your signed decree, get a certified copy from the court clerk. You can use this to change all your legal documents, including your birth certificate, social security card, and other government-issued identification like your passport or driver’s license.

Related Information:


Domestic Violence
If you are a victim of domestic violence, click to learn more about keeping your change of name confidential or read Information Sheet for Name Change Proceedings Under Address Confidentiality Program (Safe at Home) (Form NC-400-INFO).

Gender Change
You do not need a court ordered gender change to change your California driver’s license, social security card, or US passport. You also no longer need a court order to have a new birth certificate issued reflecting a change of gender (for California birth records). You may want to seek a court ordered gender change to amend your birth certificate if you were born outside of California. Please see the section on Gender Change if you want to find out more about changing your name and gender, your gender only, or your name only to conform to your gender identity and want to find out all your options. 

Denial of Name Change
In some limited cases, the judge may not agree to change your name. Click to learn about the main reasons why your petition may be denied.
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