This article about name changes was written by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and updated by TexasLawHelp.
Can I change my name as part of a divorce?
Yes. You can have your maiden name restored as part of your divorce. The name change is not automatic; you must request it (or agree to it) as part of your divorce petition, waiver, or answer. You can only restore your maiden name, not change it to a new one. The divorce decree will include your restored name and you will use a copy of the decree as evidence to make any changes to your official identification documents.
How do I change my name if I’m not divorcing?
If you are married and are changing your last name to match your spouse’s, you can use your marriage license as proof. For minor changes to your first or middle name, get an application to amend your birth certificate from the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics (www.dshs.state.tx.us). To change your last name, you will need a court order. To file a petition for name change, you must be at least 18 years of age. You must pay a filing fee, and attach a card with your fingerprints to the petition. The reason for the change of name must be lawful and “in the public interest.” A name change to avoid creditors, for example, would not qualify.
- Prepare a Petition to Change Name of an Adult. Free self-help court forms are available on www.texaslawhelp.org.
- Get a fingerprint card through the Texas Dept. of Public Safety (DPS). DPS uses an outside company called Safran for fingerprints. To find locations throughout Texas, go to www.ibtfingerprint.com/locations.
- File the verified (sworn) Petition with the fingerprint card attached, along with filing fees (about $200 but varies by county) in the county where you live. If you are unable to afford court costs, you can probably have the filing fee waived by filing a Statement of Inability to Afford Court Costs. Free form and instructions on filing the Statement are available at www.texaslawhelp.org.
- Appear before a judge and provide testimony about why you want to change your name.
- If the name change is granted, go to the clerk’s office and get a Change of Name certificate or a certified copy of the court’s order as proof of the change.
- Notify the appropriate agencies (Social Security Administration, the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Texas Department of Public Safety) of your new name. They will not be notified automatically.
Can I change my name if I have been convicted of a crime?
Yes, but there are more requirements. If you are a registered sex offender, you must attach a completed sex offender registration update to the petition. All offenses charged above a Class C misdemeanor must be listed in the petition, along with the case number and court of each offense. If you were convicted of a felony, you must show that:
- It has been at least two years from the date you received your certificate of discharge from the Texas Dept. Criminal Justice (TDCJ), or
- It has been at least two years from the time you were released or discharged from probation, or
- You were pardoned.
How can I change the name of my child?
To make minor corrections to a child’s first or middle name(s), contact the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics, www.dshs.state.tx.us to amend the birth certificate. If you want to change the child’s last name, you will need a court order.
- A petition for change of name of a child is a separate lawsuit unless it is part of an adoption or paternity proceeding. It cannot be requested in a divorce or modification suit. If the parties agree to the change, they can use the free court forms on www.texaslawhelp.org.
- The order granting change of name does not alter custody, visitation, or parental rights and duties, nor is it a substitute for a legal adoption. It only changes the name.
- Legal notice (service) of the petition is required for the child’s parent (whose rights have not been terminated), managing conservator, or guardian. A child 10 years or older must consent to the change in writing. The court must find that the change is in the child’s best interest.
I am worried about including my address on my court documents. Am I required to disclose this information to get a name change?
Usually, yes. The law requires a person filing a name change case to include their home address on their court documents. However, for cases filed on or after September 1, 2021, you will not have to disclose your home address or the reason you are requesting a name change if the following are true:
- You are a participant in the Office of the Attorney General's Address Confidentiality Program; and
- You can provide the court with a copy of your authorization card certifying that you are a participant in the Address Confidentiality Program; and
- You are filing a case for an adult name change.
If you are a participant in the Address Confidentiality Program and the court grants your name change, your order will be confidential.
For more information, visit Address Confidentiality Program.