Most name changes are requested at the time of a marriage dissolution, but other people request them for various other reasons. Some people have a name that invites ridicule or they may just want to change it for esthetic purposes.
The simplest way to change your name is if you are obtaining a marriage dissolution and wish to revert to your maiden name or to a prior married name.
If your divorce is still pending, you can request on the proposed Judgment form to restore your former name. If you are requesting a change to a name other than your former name, then you must file a Petition for Change of Name.
If your divorce was finalized and it was done in California, you can submit an Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order. You will have to advise the court clerk of the case number, parties’ names, and date of the divorce order or give the clerk a copy of your Notice of Entry of Judgment.
You need a court order to legally change your name and to generally have it changed for all other purposes such as for social security, passport, and for your driver’s license.
The process is simple and only requires that you submit to the court your Petition for Name Change. The clerk will give you an Order to Show Cause for Change of Name that you will need to publish in a newspaper. A list of these news outlets will be provided.
You will receive a court date at which time the judge will review your petition and proof of publication and will grant the request unless there are circumstances preventing it.
There are a number of restrictions on changing your name. You may not change it if you are on probation or parole unless your parole or probation officer agrees in writing. You will need the consent of the Department of Corrections if you are incarcerated in a state prison.
You may also not change your name if you intend to commit fraud, to evade detection by police or other law enforcement agency, to avoid paying debts or other obligations, or for any other illegal purpose.
Your name request cannot be obscene, threatening, or construed as a racial slur. If your name is that of a famous person, it cannot be changed if it would mislead or interfere with the rights of that person or others.
Also, it is unlikely you can change your name to a number or a name that is intentionally confusing.