After you were born, you did not have a choice as to what your parents named you. Fortunately, as an adult citizen of the United States, you have the right to use any name you choose, provided you do so without any intent of defrauding or harming others. For example, you may not adopt the name of a famous personality or even the brand name of a popular product. Wanting to change your name for that purpose can be considered as one with malicious intent.
Every state has at least one method to change an individual's name, but some states have two methods. These are commonly known as court petition and usage. Depending on the state in which you live, both are legal and valid methods. For example, California residents have the right to be known by whatever first and last name they choose.
The most popular way an individual can legally change his or her name is by/through what is called Court Petition Method. A name change by this method is accomplished by simply completing Name Change Form and by filing it with the county clerk's office.
This method is quite similar to the process involved when you register the name of a business, called DBA (Doing Business As). You fill out the proper forms, file it with the county clerk, and then publish a notice of filing in a local newspaper.
The objective of this notice is to publicly announce your intention to change your name. This notice also allows any person who may have any good reason to object, to file a motion against your name change. However, if your notice is properly published and has served its term (usually 4 weeks or 30 days), the court will grant your request for name change.
As its name suggests, changing your name using the Adopted Use Method means simply that you adopt a new name and use that name in all aspects of your personal, social and business life.
Unfortunately, this method is not acceptable in most states. Therefore, if the state in which you presently reside does not recognize the Adopted Use Method, simply set up a residence in a state that has the usage provision and change your name there.
This method is equally valid and legal as a name changed via the Court Petition Method. Unlike court petition, however, the Adopted Use Method requires no formal court filings. Most of the forms you will need to fill out will be with governemnt agencies like the Motor Vehicle and SSA.
Once you have decided to adopt and use a new name, you have to inform your employer, friends, family members, etc. Inform them that you now want them to call you and use only your new name. If applying for a new job, or securing for credit you have to use your new name. You may not use your old name and new name simultaneously.
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