Georgia Name Change FAQ

General Summary of Name Change Laws

The Courts are often willing to accept name changes for almost any legitimate reason. However, the granting of a Petition for change of name is discretionary with the court, and the court may deny a Petition on grounds, which would not constitute lawful objection. For an Order of name change to be granted, the court must find compliance with the requirements of notice and the requirements for the allegations in the Petition. The court must find also find good and sufficient reasons for the change and also find it consistent with the public interest. Lastly, when the change of name is for a minor, the Court must find that the change is in the best interests of the minor child.

One cannot change his/her/the minor's name for a fraudulent reason, change to a name that could affect the rights of another person (such as a celebrity) nor change to a name which involves vulgarity.

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Overview of Process in Georgia for an Adult

In the state of Georgia, any adult who wants to change his/her name must first file a Petition with the Superior Court of the County of his or her residence setting forth the reasons for the change. Within seven days of the Petition being filed, the Petitioner shall publish a notice of the name change, signed by the Petitioner, in the official legal newspaper for the County where (s)he resides. The publication of the name change must be published once a week for four weeks. After thirty days from the filing of the Petition, and after proof to the court of publication of the notice required is made, if no objection is filed, the court shall proceed at chambers at such date as the court shall fix to hear and determine all matters raised by the petition and to render final judgment or decree thereon.

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Overview of Process in Georgia for a Minor

In Georgia, the process for obtaining a name change for a minor begins with the filing of a Petition to Change Name of a Minor which sets forth the reasons for the change, by the parent or guardian of the minor, with the Superior Court in the jurisdiction in which the minor resides. The Petitioner must attach to the Petition a certified copy of the child's birth certificate. The Court requires that a notice be published to announce the Petition to the public shortly after the Petition is originally filed. A hearing date will be set, within thirty to sixty days, where the Petition will be fully examined and any objections to the Petition will be heard. During the interim, any adult who has a legal right to notification of the Petition (such as a parent, legal guardian, etc.) shall be given proper direct notice by the Petitioner. This is referred to as Service of Process. After these requirements have been met, the Petitioner and minor shall appear before the court at the Hearing to offer proof of these efforts. The Court will hear any objections to the Petition offered by third parties and review the Petition. If everything is in order and the Court agrees to the intent and nature of the Petition, the Court will sign an Order making the name change official. For an order of name change to be granted, the Court must find sufficient reasons for the change and also find it consistent with the public interest.

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What are some of the most popular reasons for change of name?

Name changes are sought for many reasons. Perhaps you simply do not like your birth name and want a name that better suits you. Perhaps you are making or have made a career change, and feel that your birth name hinders you in your new job. Perhaps the minor has a nickname which (s)he now desires to make his/her official legal name. As far as the reason(s) for change of name, the reason(s) should be valid enough that a Judge would at least accept it/them. Remember that the reason(s) will go a long way in helping the Judge determine whether or not to grant the Petition.

Name changes are common and are typically pretty easy to carry out. Our legal document services contain detailed filing information and instructions to help one successfully change his/her/the minor's name without the cost of an attorney.

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What are the fees involved with a name change application?

The cost of our legal documents is the only charge we will collect. Other charges you may incur in the filing of any legal pleading with a court could include: filing fees, postage for certified mailings, fees associated with the signatures and seals of a Notary Public, publication fees and service of process charges. It is difficult to determine exactly what fees will be needed due to the varying circumstances surrounding any legal action or case. Moreover, the processes and requirements for a name change application vary sometimes from County to County or even courthouse to courthouse. We recommend that you contact your local Court Clerk for information regarding the exact current cost of these fees.

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How long will the entire application for change of name take?

Name change actions can take anywhere from a day to six (6) months (sometimes even longer). The time it takes for such action to be ordered/decreed varies not only from County to County, but sometimes from courthouse to courthouse as well. Should time be a major factor for you, to see how long a name change at your local courthouse will take to process, we recommend that you contact the courthouse where you anticipate filing your particular legal action.

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Can the entire procedure take place online or will a court appearance be necessary?

We always recommend that our customers file their actions (legal documents) in-person at their local courthouse. This is the fastest, easiest and best approach to filing. Besides appearing to file your legal documents, name change actions often require other appearances within court.

If you have further questions regarding court appearances pertaining to a name change application, we recommend that you contact your local Court Clerk with your questions.

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If I was born in Florida but have since moved to Georgia, in which state should I file my application for change of name?

In order to file for a name change, one must meet the residency requirements of the state in which they wish to file. In other words, in order to petition a state for name change, you must be a permanent resident of that state. All states require a Petitioner/Applicant to be a resident of the state -- often for at least six months and sometimes for as long as one year -- before filing for a name change there. Someone who files for a name change, typically, must offer proof that (s)he has resided there for the required length of time.

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I am only interested in changing my first name. Do your legal documents apply to this circumstance?

Our name change legal documents are applicable to changes of the first name, middle name, last name and/or any combination.

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Do I need to go through the court ordered procedure if I am only correcting my first and/or middle name(s)?

If you are only correcting a first or middle name AND you were born in Georgia, you MAY NOT need to go through the court-ordered process. We recommend that you contact the Vital Records Department/Agency in Georgia. Contact information for the Georgia Division of Public Health can be found at http://www.vitalrec.com/ga.html. You may also want to contact your local Court Clerk for further information.

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Are your name change legal documents appropriate if I have recently married?

Our name change legal documents are not to be used when the name change is a result of marriage -- a simpler procedure should be involved. Please see http://www.namechangelaw.com/change%20name-marriage.htm for specific information regarding name change as a result of marriage.

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Are your name change legal documents appropriate in adoption proceedings or paternity actions?

Our name change legal documents are not to be used in connection with an adoption or paternity action, since in such cases the name change should be done as part of that case or proceeding.

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In your notes regarding this service it states that if someone has claimed bankruptcy, they should consider contacting a lawyer. I filed for bankruptcy but have been discharged for 5 years. Should I still consider using a lawyer or is it ok to use this service?

Our name change legal documents are for simple uncontested name change actions only. Attempting to change one's name when contemplating filing for bankruptcy and/or after one has claimed bankruptcy can be complicated and our name change pleadings are not applicable in such situations. These situations would typically require the assistance of an attorney who is a member of the bar in the state in which one lives.

Other situations where are services are not applicable include: Our services should not be used if the applicant or minor has been convicted of a crime, has judgments or liens against them, is not a U.S. citizen, or is a registered sex offender. Instead, such applicants should consider contacting an attorney in their area. These circumstances could cause complications, which may result in the action being denied and/or contested.

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Does your service provide me with all the required forms, information and filing instructions?

Our state-specific name change materials contain more than just the needed forms. Our staff reviews state statutes, laws, regulations, and requirements when developing our legal documents. Detailed instructions are included with each package. Within that text is always a recommendation that our customers contact their local Court Clerk to ensure that all necessary forms have been obtained. Our legal documents are state-specific. We recognize however that local laws vary -- not just from state to state, but even from County to County. We make every effort to ensure that our legal documents are as comprehensive as possible -- County and courthouse variation information however is not always readily available to our staff. Also, we cannot promise any of our customer's perfection -- only our best efforts. Your local jurisdiction may require forms or papers that we have missed. More often than not, if something is missing from a legal document set, it is usually a single form or County cover sheet. These missing forms are usually available from the local Court Clerk.

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How does your Document Preparation Service work?

Our Document Preparation Service requires that you complete an online Questionnaire. Your responses on the Questionnaire will then be used to prepare the documents. If our staff requires additional information, or if you fail to answer the required questions, our staff will contact you via e-mail. The prepared legal documents, with further instructions, will be returned to you as an attachment to an e-mail within a few business days (assuming we do not need additional information from you).

This service cost $99.95 for an Adult or Minor name change. Our fee includes the preparation of the legal documents and delivery of the documents in a data format. Paper copies of the legal documents can be mailed to you for a small additional charge. Other charges which may become necessary in the filing of any legal document with a court could include: filing fees, postage for certified mailings, fees associated with the signatures and seals of a Notary Public, publication fees and service of process charges. These fees and charges are the responsibility of the Petitioner, not our company.

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If I choose to purchase the Document Preparation Service, will I still have to contact all entities to amend documents, for example, passport, driver's license, etc. Or will those changes be submitted for me through this process for Document Preparation?

Once the legal documents have been delivered, you will have further steps to take. Our service does not include any notarization of forms. Likewise, we do not file your papers with any court or assist with other requirements, such as service or publication procedures. While we do provide a listing of agencies/places to contact after your action has been ordered or decreed (approved and finalized), we do not assist in these procedures. These steps will be your responsibility.

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If the paternal father's name isn't on my stepdaughter's birth certificate do we need to notify the paternal father of the Petition?

Any parent or adult who retains parental or custodial rights over a minor has a right, based in statute, to be notified and must provide consent or waiver of consent to legal actions regarding the minor. The actual law will vary from state to state, but the general rule is that both parents must consent to a name change for a minor. Our legal document services are designed for uncontested legal actions only - actions where all interested parties can come to agreement.

To use our Georgia Name Change for a Minor service, certain adults with legal rights regarding the child will need to be notified of the proposed legal action. Any non-petitioning parent, managing conservator or legal guardian will need to be notified. The applicant is required to do this even if (s)he has sole custody of the child. Similarly, if the applicant is the child's legal guardian, they will also need to serve the child's parents. Consent should be obtained from any non-petitioning parent who has not terminated their parental rights. Important Note: The written consent of a parent shall not be required if the parent has not contributed to the support of the child for a continuous period of five years or more immediately preceding the filing of the Petition.

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What if the request to change my name is denied?

Most name change Petitions are granted, however, the law gives the Court the power to decline a person's request for a name change. Therefore, the Court can refuse a name change request if there is a reason to decline the request.

If a name change Petition was denied because there was not enough evidence to support the request, then you will have to wait until the circumstances that led to the denial change before you can file another Petition. This is because once the Court makes a decision about an incident or an event; it cannot address that same incident or event again. If the Petition was denied because of a procedural error (for example, you did not file the correct forms), then you should correct the error and request another time to ask the Judge to approve your name change.

Finally, whenever you lose in Court, you have the right to request the Court to reconsider its decision and you have the right to appeal the decision to a higher Court. Please note that in most cases you have 30 days or less from the date of the Judge's decision to exercise these rights or you may lose your right to reconsideration or appeal. You should seek the assistance of an attorney to exercise these rights.

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Name Change Forms

Self-Prepared

Adult Name Change $29.95
Minor Name Change $29.95

Paralegal-Prepared

Adult Name Change $99.95
Minor Name Change $119.95

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