Change Your Name In Alabama

How to Obtain a Name Change for an Adult in Alabama

1. Can I have my name changed in Alabama?

Only bona fide residents of Alabama can petition to have their names changed in Alabama.  Generally speaking, a bona fide resident of Alabama is a person who has lived in Alabama for at least six months AND intends to remain living in Alabama indefinitely.

Importantly, unlike most states, you must be at least 19-years-old to be considered an adult in Alabama.

2. When can I have my name changed in Alabama?

Alabama law does not limit or specify when or how often an adult may have his/her name changed.  However, individual courts may impose their rules and regulations and, in some circumstances (see below), refuse to grant a name change.

3. Where do I go to petition to have my name changed in Alabama?

In Alabama, a person can only obtain a name change from the probate court(s) in the county in which he/she resides.  To find your local probate court, please click here.

4. How do I petition to have my name changed in Alabama?

There is no single governing law or standard in Alabama for name changes.  Accordingly, each probate court is likely to have its own particular rules and forms.

If you live in one of the following counties, your local probate court offers a helpful website with easy-to-follow instructions:

Jefferson County (Birmingham)

Madison County (Huntsville)

Montgomery County (Montgomery)

If you do not live in one of the above counties, you need to first get in touch with the clerk’s office of your local probate court.  The clerk’s office may be willing to tell you if the probate court has any local rules or requires you to use particular forms.

5. What if my local probate court does not offer information online and the clerk’s office is not willing to help me?

Unless you live in one of the above-mentioned counties that offer a website, you will very likely be reliant on the clerk’s office for assistance.  While clerks’ offices are often to provide you with limited information and guidance, you may find your local probate clerk’s office unhelpful.  If this is your case, please follow this general procedure:

Step 1: Draft a petition to request that your name be changed.

NOTE: For an example of what a petition should look like, click here.  If you choose to model your petition after this one from Jefferson County, Alabama, be sure to use the name of your county and probate judge(s)—not those of Jefferson County!

Step 2: Have your petition notarized by a notary public.

NOTE: To find a notary public, click here.

Step 3:  Collect the following documents: (1) original birth certificate, (2) proof of any   prior name changes, and (3) at least one form of non-expired, government-issued identification, i.e. driver’s license, non-driver’s license identification card, or passport, that indicates your current address.

Step 4: Make at least two photocopies of your petition and the documents in Step 3.

Step 5:  Present yourself, your petition, and the documents and photocopies from steps 3 and 4, at your local probate court clerk’s office.

NOTE: Some probate courts, particularly in the case of adult name changes, are willing to grant the name change “over-the-counter.”  This means that the probate court clerk will grant your name change on-the-spot, without you having to actually go before the probate judge at a hearing.

If your local court or your particular circumstances do not permit an “over –the-counter” name change, the probate court clerk will take your petition and schedule a hearing before the probate judge.  If a hearing is scheduled, you will be required to return to the court at a later date for the hearing and explain why you want a name change.

6. Are there any restrictions?

You cannot obtain a name change in Alabama in furtherance of a wrongful or outright illegal purpose, i.e. for the purpose of avoiding civil or criminal liability, having to pay a debt or judgment, or service of process.

The probate court may require you to take extra steps or deny your petition altogether if these or other related circumstances apply to you:

1.       If you have ever been convicted as a Criminal Sex Offender

2.       If you are currently a party to any judicial proceeding anywhere in the United States

3.       If you are currently a criminal defendant

4.       If you have ever been convicted of any felony or crime involving dishonesty or immoral behavior

The probate court may also require you to authorize a criminal background check prior to granting your petition for a name change.

7. How much will my name change cost?

Even if you obtain the name change yourself, without hiring attorney, you will still incur certain costs, i.e. filing fees, court costs, criminal background check fees, etc.  What you ultimately have to pay largely depends on the particular circumstances of your case.  The total costs can range from as little as $15.00 to well over $100.00.  Your local probate court should have a set fee schedule, which will give you a fairly reliable estimate of what your name change will ultimately cost.

 

How to Obtain a Name Change for a Minor in Alabama

1. Who can seek to have a minor’s name changed in Alabama?

In Alabama, only a minor’s natural or adoptive parents can seek to have a minor’s name changed.  Under Alabama law, a “minor” is anyone who had not yet reached the age of 19-years-old.

A minor’s name can only be changed in Alabama if the minor and at least one parent is a bona fide resident of Alabama.  Generally, a bona fide resident is someone who has lived in Alabama for the past six months and intends to remain in Alabama indefinitely.

2. Where do I go to have a minor’s name changed in Alabama?

A minor’s name can only be changed by the probate court(s) in the county in which the minor child resides.  To find the appropriate probate court(s), please click here.

3. When can I have a minor’s name changed in Alabama?

Alabama law does not limit when a minor’s name can be changed.  As a general matter, though, Alabama probate courts are going to subject minor name change petitions to greater scrutiny than petitions for adults.

Alabama public policy favors consistency and stability in all aspects of a minor’s life, including his/her name.   Consequently, frequent name changes or name changes in close temporal proximity to one another will likely face stronger opposition from the courts.  Alabama probate courts are also less likely to approve the change of minor’s name as the minor gets older.

4. How do I petition to have a minor’s name changed in Alabama?

The rules and procedures for changing a minor’s name in Alabama can vary substantially from county to county.  The probate courts in the following counties offer online information to help get you started:

Jefferson County (Birmingham)

Montgomery County (Montgomery)

Because the rules, procedures, and forms vary from county-to-county, if you live outside Jefferson or Montgomery Counties, a good first step would be to contact the clerk of the probate court from whom you will seek the name change.  The probate court clerk may be willing to guide you through the process or, at least, provide you with the local rules and forms.

5. What if my local probate court does not offer information online and the probate court clerk is not willing to help me?

The probate court clerk may, and often does, prove very helpful.  However, he/she is under no obligation to guide you through the process.  If you find the probate court clerk unwilling to assist you, follow this general procedure:

Step 1: Draft a petition to request that the minor’s name be changed.

NOTE: For an example of what a petition should look like, click here.  If you choose to model the petition after this one from Jefferson County, Alabama, be sure to reference the names of the appropriate county and probate judge(s)—not those of Jefferson County!

Step 2: Sign the petition.

NOTE: One of the trickiest parts to obtaining a name change for a minor is figuring out who can and who must sign the petition.  The following rules apply:

1) Where both parents’ names are on the minor’s birth certificate: BOTH parents MUST sign the petition.  If one parent refuses, the other parent may submit the petition with his/her signature only, but a hearing will be scheduled (see below).

2) Where only one parent’s name is on the minor’s birth certificate: ONLY that parent, whose name is on the minor’s birth certificate, can and must sign the petition.

Step 3: If the minor is at least 14-years-old, have he/she sign a consent statement.

Under Alabama law, a minor who is at least 14-years-old must actually and personally consent to the name change.  For a sample consent statement, see the bottom of this form petition.

Step 2:  Have the petition AND the minor’s consent statement (if applicable) notarized by a notary public.

NOTE: To find a notary public, click here.

Step 3: Collect the following documents:

1.            Minor’s original birth certificate

2.            Proof of adoption (if applicable)

3.            Proof of any prior changes to the minor’s name

4.            For each parent who has signed the petitioner, at least one form of non-expired, government-issued identification that indicates that parent’s current address

Step 4:  Make at least two photocopies of the petition, the minor’s consent statement (if applicable), and the documents in Step 3.

Step 5: Depends on your circumstances:

1.            If both parents’ names are on the minor’s birth certificate AND both parents signed the petition, then:

Both parents need to take the minor child and all of the documents outlined in Steps 3 and 4 to the appropriate probate court clerk.  In many Alabama counties, under these precise circumstances, a minor’s name can be changed “over-the-counter” without a hearing before the probate judge.

2.            If only one parent’s name is on the minor’s birth certificate OR only one parent signs the petition, then:

The parent who signs the petition needs to submit it, along with the documents outlined in Steps 3 and 4, to the probate court clerk.  Under these circumstances, a hearing must be held before the probate judge.

Once a hearing is scheduled, the probate court will attempt to notify the other, non-signing parent.  On the day of the hearing, the parent who has custody of the minor MUST bring the minor with him/her.

6. Are there any restrictions?

In Alabama, name changes cannot be sought or obtained for any wrongful or outright illegal purpose, i.e. concealing a crime or fraud, furthering a crime of fraud, avoiding civil or criminal liability, etc.  Often, minor name changes are sought following a divorce, legitimation proceeding, custody battle, etc. when tensions between the parents are high.  Where a parent seeks to have a minor’s name changed solely to spite or get back at the other parent, a probate court is not likely to grant the change.

Courts are very likely to consider a petition to change a minor’s name under a “best interests of a child” standard.  There must be a legitimate reason for changing the minor’s name.

7. How much will the minor’s name change cost?

Even if you obtain the name change yourself, without hiring attorney, you will still incur certain costs, i.e. filing fees, court costs, criminal background check fees, etc.  What you ultimately have to pay largely depends on the particular circumstances of your case.  The total costs can range from as little as $15.00 to well over $100.00.  Your local probate court should have a set fee schedule, which will give you a fairly reliable estimate of what your name change will ultimately cost.


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