How to Obtain a Name Change in Florida
For an Adult:
1. Can I have my name changed in Florida?
Only bona fide residents of Florida can petition to have their names changed in Florida. Additionally, you may only seek a change of name from the county’s court in which you are domiciled. This applies to adults. For minors (persons below the age of 18 in Florida) special rules apply.
2. When can I have my name changed in Florida?
Florida 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.
You may want to check with the Court where you plan to file your case for specific days or times when name change hearings are scheduled. You may have your hearing on the same day that you file your case or a future hearing will be set.
3. Where do I go to petition to have my name changed in Florida?
Generally, the Circuit Court has jurisdiction to hear petitions for name change in Florida for petitioners that are not seeking the change of name due to dissolution of marriage or adoption. The form listed below in the “steps” section should be used when an adult wants the court to change his or her name. This form is not to be used in connection with a dissolution of marriage or for adoption of child(ren). If you want a change of name because of a dissolution of marriage or adoption of child(ren) that is not yet final, the change of name should be requested as part of that case.
This form should be typed or printed in black ink and must be signed before a notary public or deputy clerk. You should file the original with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where you live and keep a copy for your records.
4. How do I petition to have my name changed in Florida?
Step 1: Logistics
Unless you are seeking to restore a former name, you must have fingerprints submitted for state and national criminal records checks. The fingerprints must be taken in a manner approved by the Department of Law Enforcement and must be submitted to the Department for a state and national criminal records check. You may not request a hearing on the petition until the clerk of court has received the results of your criminal history records check. The clerk of court can instruct you on the process for having the fingerprints taken and submitted, including information on law enforcement agencies or service providers authorized to submit fingerprints electronically to the Department of Law Enforcement. The process may take several weeks and you will have to pay for the cost of processing the fingerprints and conducting the state and national criminal history records check. A list of Circuit Courts is available here, or you can simply use a phone directory for your county and contact them that way.
Step 2: Complete Forms
The official form “petition for change of name” is available here, on page 3.
The heading of the form calls for the name of the petitioner. Your current name should go there, as you are the one who is asking the court for something. The judicial circuit, case number, and division may be obtained from the clerk of court’s office when you file the petition.
Some information is only required if known: date and place of birth of the petitioner, petitioner’s father, his name, petitioner’s mother, her maiden name, and where the petitioner has resided since birth for instance.
It may be helpful to compile a list of all of the people and/or places that will need a copy of your final judgment. This list may include the driver’s license office, social security office, banks, schools, etc. A list will help you know how many copies of your order you should get from the clerk of court after your hearing.
Remember, a person who is NOT an attorney is called a non-lawyer. If a non-lawyer helps you fill out these forms, that person must give you a copy of a Disclosure from Non-lawyer, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.900 (a), before he or she helps you. A non-lawyer helping you fill out these forms also must put his or her name, address, and telephone number on the bottom of the last page of every form he or she helps you complete.
Finally, if a husband and wife or family wish, they may join in one petition for a change of name and the petition must show the facts required of the petitioner as to the husband and wife and the names of their minor children may be changed at the discretion of the court.
Step 3: You are ready to file your Petition with the Court
Note, when only one parent petitions for a change of name of a minor child, process shall be served on the other parent and proof of such service shall be filed in the cause; however, if the other parent is a nonresident, constructive notice of the petition may be given pursuant to chapter 49, and proof of publication shall be filed in the cause without the necessity of recordation. The consent form is available here. Do not sign this form unless in the presence of the clerk of court or Notary Public.
Step 4: Be prepared for your hearing
Next, you must obtain a hearing date for the court to consider your request. If you are seeking to restore a former name, a hearing on the petition MAY be held immediately after the petition is filed. The final hearing on any other petition for a name change may be held immediately after the clerk of court receives the results of your criminal history records check. You should ask the clerk of court, family law intake staff, or judicial assistant about the local procedure for setting a hearing, if an immediate one is not possible. You may be required to attend the final hearing. Included in these forms is a Final Judgment of Change of Name (Adult), Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.982 (b), which the judge may use. You should check with the clerk, family law intake staff, or judicial assistant, to see if you need to bring a final judgment form with you. If so, you should type or print the heading, including the circuit, county, case number, division, and the parties’ names, and leave the rest blank for the judge to complete at your hearing or trial.
Step 6: Obtain the signed copy of the Decree for Name Change from the Court
If the judge grants your petition, he or she will sign this order. This officially changes your name. The clerk can provide you with certified copies of the signed order. There will be charges for the certified copies, and the clerk can tell you the amount of the charges.
5. Are there any restrictions?
Specific restrictions are not articulated in statute, but the statute does note that the state has an interest in your criminal history and that a change of name cannot be petitioned with fraudulent intent. Therefore, should the court decide fraud/deceit is your motive, the Court can deny your petition.
6. 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. 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 according to your circumstances.
How to Obtain a Name Change for a Minor in Florida
1. Who can seek to have a minor’s name changed in Florida?
In Florida, only a minor’s natural or adoptive parents can seek to have a minor’s name changed. Under Florida law, a “minor” is anyone who had not yet reached the age of 18-years-old.
2. Where do I go to have a minor’s name changed in Florida?
Same rules as applied to adults.
3. When can I have a minor’s name changed in Florida?
Same rules as applied to adults.
4. How do I petition to have a minor’s name changed in Florida?
Step 1: if the minor is 14 or older, refer to Step 1 under question 4 above on pages 1 and 2.
Step 2: Complete appropriate forms
The Petition should only be completed by one Petitioner for one child. If you wish to change the name of more than one child or if there is more than one Petitioner, you should complete and file a Supplemental Form for Petition for Change of Name (Minor Child) for each child and/or a Supplemental Form for Petition for Change of Name. The supplemental form(s) is an attachment to the petition. Be sure that the bottom of each page of each supplemental form is initialed by the petitioner(s).Do not sign this petition unless in the presence of a clerk of court or Notary Public.
If both parents agree to the change of name and live in the county where the change of name is sought, you may both file as petitioners. In this situation, service is not necessary, and you need only to set a hearing. You should ask the clerk of court, family law intake staff, or judicial assistant about the local procedure for setting a hearing.
If only one parent is a resident of the county where the change of name(s) is sought or only one parent asks for the child(ren)’s name(s) to be changed, the other parent must be notified and his or her consent obtained, if possible. If the other parent consents to the change of name, a Consent for Change of Name (Minor Child(ren)), Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.982(d), should be filed. That form is available here.
If the other parent does not consent to the change of name, you may still have a hearing on the petition if you have properly notified the other parent about your petition and the hearing. If you know where he or she lives, you must use personal service. If you absolutely do not know where he or she lives, you may use constructive service (like a newspaper). For more information about personal and constructive service, you should refer [to] the “General Instructions for Self-Represented Litigants” found at the beginning of these forms provided by the link above, and the instructions to Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Forms 12.910(a) and 12.913(b) and Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.913(a). However, the law regarding constructive service is very complex and you may wish to consult an attorney regarding that issue.
Step 3: File your Petition with the Court
Same rules as before for adults.
Step 4: Be Prepared for Your Hearing
Same rules as before for adults.
Step 6: Obtain singed copy of Decree for Name Change form the Court
If the judge grants your petition, he or she will sign this order. This officially changes your child(ren)’s name(s). The clerk can provide you with certified copies of the signed order. There will be charges for the certified copies, and the clerk can tell you the amount of the charges.
5. Are there any restrictions?
Yes, just like with adults, any convictions or charges brought against a minor should be brought to the Court’s attention in your petition documents.
6. How much will the minor’s name change cost?
Same limitations with trying to assess the costs for an adult. The best policy is to consult your local clerk of court.