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Name Change Basics

To ask the Court to change your name or your child's name, you need to give the Court the following:

  • court papers asking for the change, this includes: Name Change Petition and Proposed Order. The petition must be filled out and signed in front of a Notary Public. You may need additional forms to change a child’s name. You may also need to give a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to the Court
  • proof of birth
  • court fee ($210 in Supreme and County Courts; $65.00 in New York City Civil Court)
  • in Supreme Court you must also submit a Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI) to have a Judge assigned to the case. There is no fee to file this form.
  • depending on your situation there may be additional papers that you need to give the court.

If you are concerned for your safety or your children's safety, read about Privacy.

Note: You may not need to ask the Court to change your name if you already Changed Your Name Through Marriage, Divorce, Adoption or Citizenship.


Where to Go

A name change request can be made in the County Court or Supreme Court of the county where you live. If you live in New York City, you can go to the New York City Civil Court or the Supreme Court in the county where you live. The Civil Court costs less money than the Supreme Court.

Use the Court Locator box to find the Court nearest you.

 

The Name Change Petition

The Name Change Petition must include the following information:

  • the reason you want to change your name or your child’s name;
  • if you or the child were convicted of a crime, information about the crime and time served. You can attach a copy of the Certificate of Incarceration or Certificate of Disposition to your Petition. If you committed certain serious felonies and you are in prison or on parole, see Name Change: Criminal Conviction;
  • if you were convicted of bankruptcy, when the judgment was made and the terms. You can attach a copy of the judgment along with the Petition;
  • if there are judgments or liens against you or the child, explain when the judgment was made, who the judgment is owed to, and the amount of the judgment. If you have judgments or liens against you or your property, you can attach copies;
  • if you or the child are involved in a lawsuit, give the names of the people in the lawsuit, the reason for the lawsuit, and what court the lawsuit is in. You can attach copies of the court papers to your Petition;
  • if you pay child or spousal support. You can attach a copy of the support order;
  • if you are changing a child’s name you need to give information about any other parents or legal guardians. See More About Child Name Changes.

There are DIY Forms Programs and court forms available online.

 

Filing the Papers

Bring proof of where you live and your identity along with the court papers and filing fee to the court. It is a good idea to call first to see what else the court may require you to bring. Use the court locator box to find the court’s phone number. Your papers will be reviewed by the Court Clerk and submitted to a Judge. But, if you are changing a child’s name you may have to notify the other parent or legal guardian and come back to court. See More About Child Name Changes. If you committed certain felonies and you are in prison or on parole, you will need to serve the District Attorney and Court where you were convicted. See Name Change: Criminal Convictions. You may be able to file your papers over the internet using NYSCEF, the New York State Courts Electronic Filing system. Check to see if you can do this on the e-filing County list.

If the Judge approves your name change, you will need to publish your new name in the newspaper that the court tells you to use. The newspaper charges a fee for publishing your name change.

The Judge can also make you tell other parties about your name change, such as, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, Selective Service System, a wife or husband or ex-wife or ex-husband, Bankruptcy Court, N.Y.S. Criminal Justice Services, and any other party that the Judge thinks should be told.

If the Judge grants your name change request, you will need copies of the Order to change all your legal documents, like your social security card and driver’s license.

 

Reasons for Denial

If the Judge believes that you are changing your name to commit fraud or to hide from the law or the police, or to avoid paying child support or debts, or for some other illegal reason, the Judge may deny your request to change your name.

The Judge may also deny your name change if the name you choose is offensive, like Kill U. All; or misleading, like Officer, or Doctor; or you choose the name of a famous person, like Beyoncé Knowles, or Chance the Rapper; or you choose the name of a company, like Google or Facebook.

If you are asking to change the name of a child, the court decides if the name change is in the child’s best interest. Read More about Child Name Changes.

 

Fee Waiver

If you do not have money to pay the court costs and fees, you can ask the Court for a Fee Waiver to continue without paying the court costs. Some courts call this "Poor Person’s Relief." But, even if the Court grants your Fee Waiver request, you will still have to pay for any fees that the newspaper charges to print your name change.

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