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“New Year, New Me” but is it time for a name change?

As the New Year approaches, many look at it as a fresh start to create new goals, accomplish existing goals, tap in to a newer version of themselves, and even get their lives on a better track overall. New Year, New Me. Whether its by creating New Year’s resolutions, Vision Board’s, or just a mental state of mind, don’t let the New Year start without you at least thinking about new intentions, or at minimum, reflecting on what you overcame during the past year(s).

Whatever the New Year brings, having a game plan, even if its as simple as finally applying for a name change, is a game changer in getting it accomplished. In the State of Georgia, people can request to change their name for about any valid reason they desire. For example, some people change their names to get a clean start from an abusive past, some to get away from an old city and old life style, some people inherited nicknames that they primarily used on a day to day basis, some change it for religious reasons, others change it, just because. Some other reasons for a name change can be adoption, divorce, or sentimental family reasons. You can even change the name of your minor child. Whatever it may be, changing your name can be simple, but make sure its done legally and correctly to avoid confusion with taxes, marriage licenses, medical and school records and even for government agency identification purposes, like getting a new passport or driver’s license.

In order to begin the process, you will need to file a Petition for a Name Change in the Superior Court of the County where you reside. To officially change your name, or the name of a minor child, you’ll need to get a Final Order granting the name change. To avoid the confusion and make the change official, you can present to Order with the new name to government agencies, banks, employers and financial institutions to update your ID and other Official Records.

Each county has different fees associated with completing a name change, but over all, the process is across the board the same. File the Petition, make sure its notarized, submit relevant affidavits to the court to explain your unique case of the name change, publish the request for a name change to give friends and loved ones notice of the requested change (can be waived if there’s safety concerns causing the name change), attend a hearing before judge to confirm your request, get your Final Order, then its officially New Year, New You.

For minor children, the process is similar but both parents must agree to the change, or at least get notice of the requested change before the court can issue an order. The parent or parents of the child shall be served with a copy of the Petition. O.C.G.A. § 19-12-1 Legal parents do have the right to object to the proposed name change of a minor child and the court will give both parents an opportunity to present their cause before entering a Final Order granting or denying the name change of a minor child. Without an objection, depending on the availability of the court, the entire name change process can be finalized within approximately thirty days from the filing of the petition if the individual whose name to be changed is an adult, or within thirty days from the date of service upon the parent, parents, or guardian of a child whose name is to be changed if everyone resides within the State of Georgia. O.C.G.A. § 19-12-1(d) If there’s objections, or a parent/ guardian lives in another state, the Final Order may be issued after sixty days from the date of service upon the parent. Overall, parents can submit their written consent if there’s no objections to the name change of the minor child.

A name change for a minor child can also be completed during the Legitimation process. Check out our Blog Posts on Legitimation for more on that subject. Whichever route you desire to take, the New Year is a great opportunity to cross these legal needs off your to-do list. Just ensure you do it correctly by consulting with an experienced attorney, submitting all required forms, and giving notice to all relevant people/ agencies, and having your new name updated on all relevant documents.

The New Year is a great opportunity to make drastic or even just necessary changes for your future.

Happy New Year to the new you!

Renee Richardson