Changing Names (Answers to Common Questions)
I Am Going To Be Getting A Divorce And Want to Return To the Name I Used to Have - Can I Do This?
Yes, in a divorce you may have your maiden or prior name restored to you. You must put this request in your complaint or petition for divorce in the section where you tell the court what you would like it to do for you. Since it is in your divorce proceeding there is no extra charge for this and you do not have to have the name change published separately.
I Just Want To Change My Name - How Can I Do This?
(1) File a Petition for Name Change. If you are an adult and want to change your name, you must file a petition the superior court in the county where you live. The petition must list your reasons for asking to change your name.
(2) File a Verification of Petition. You must also sign and file a document called "Verification of Petition." In the Verification of Petition, you are swearing that the information in the petition is correct.
(3) Publish Notice of Name Change. Within seven (7) days after you file the petition and verification of petition, you must arrange to have a notice published for four (4) consecutive weeks in the newspaper designated by that court. The notice must contain your name (the name of the petitioner), the new name you want, the court where you filed the petition, the date you filed the petition, and the right of any interested or affected party to appear and file objections. Thirty (30) days after you have filed the petition and provided the court with proof that you have published notice of the name change in the newspaper as the court required, the court will have a hearing on your petition for name change and render final judgement. If someone files an objection against your petition of name change this may take longer.
Note on Fees: You will have to pay a filing fee to file the petition for name change and a publication fee to publish the notice of name change in the newspaper.
What If the Person Is Under 18 Years Old (a Minor)?
If the person who wants to have their name changed is a minor (under 18 years old), you must follow the regular procedure, plus you must get the written consent of the minor's parents. If both parents of the minor are dead, the minor's guardian must provide written consent. The written consent must be attached to the petition.
Written consent of a parent is not required from a parent that has not contributed to the support of the minor for the five continuous years before the petition for name change is filed.
The petition must also be "served" on the parents or guardian. This means that the petition is given in person to the parents or guardian by the sheriff or another local "process server". This is called "service of process." You have to pay a fee to have the petition served on the parents or guardian.
If the parents or guardian live outside of Georgia then a copy of the petition should be sent by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery. If the address of the parents or guardian is not known, then they can be "served" by notice publication in the newspaper.
If the petition is served on the parents or guardians living in Georgia, then the court will hear the petition and give a final judgment thirty (30) days from the date of service.
If service is by certified mail or overnight delivery to the parents or guardians living outside of Georgia, then the court will have a hearing on the petition for name change and give a final judgment sixty (60) days from the date the parents or guardian receive the petition.
For more information please contact the Atlanta Legal Aid Society or Georgia Legal Services Program office nearest you.
For Clayton, Cobb, Dekalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett Counties, call Atlanta Legal Aid Society: 404-524-5811
For all other counties, call Georgia Legal Services Program: 1-800-498-9469 (toll free)
For Seniors age 60 and older, call the Georgia Senior Legal Hotline: 1-888-257-9519 (toll free)