The simplest way to change your name in Washington state is by getting married or divorced. However, to change your name legally without one of these life events, you need to go through the courts. In addition, you need to contact Social Security and Washington’s Department of Motor Vehicles to update your information.
Get a marriage license.
Once you marry, you have the right to change your name to your spouse’s last name. You can also choose a hyphenated version of your name.
You can obtain a marriage license at your county auditor’s office, most of the time. The state website has a list of most of the offices, so you can look up your county for more information.
The cost varies by county. Also, you obtain the license before you get married and give it to your officiant. Usually, if you don’t use it within a certain time period (often 2 months), the license is void.
Sign your marriage license with your old name.
Though you are changing your name to your spouse’s name, you need to sign your marriage license with your old name. You are still legally that person until the license is signed.
Sign all other documentation with your new name.
Essentially, you just start using your new name upon completion of your marriage. You can use your marriage license to officially change it with government entities and the DMV.
Request a return to your previous name.
If you divorce, you can just as easily return to the name you used before you married. Your divorce lawyer simply needs to include that name in the dissolution proceedings.
Find your district court’s website.
In Washington, you file your petition through your district court. The paperwork is not standardized across the state, so you must find the the correct paperwork for your county. Most likely, you’ll need to fill out a Petition for Name Change and an Order for Name Change.
Find the forms, and fill them out.
On your district court’s website, find the appropriate forms. Print them out so that you can fill them in. Your district court may allow you to fill them out online, but most likely, you will need to actually file them with the court in person. That way, you can prove who you are. You can also pick the forms up in person at your court’s office if you prefer. You’ll likely need basic biographical information, including the names of your children and spouse, if applicable.
Gather your documentation.
You will need a proof of identity, such as a driver’s license or a passport. You may need a birth certificate, depending on where you live. Check your court’s website for a list of requirements, or call ahead.
Have a payment ready.
Most courts will charge you a fee for filling. For instance, in King County, the fee is $170, as of 2015. You can save some money by filing a family’s paperwork together if more than person is changing his or her name.
File with the court.
Take your documents to the court’s office. A clerk will take your paperwork and let you know if there’s anything else you need to do. at this point, you’ll also make a payment to file your paperwork.
Understand the reasons your new name may be rejected.
You can generally change your name to what you want for any reason you want with some exceptions. For instance, the judge may reject your name change if you are a convicted felon or if you are changing your name for an illegal purpose. She may also reject it if you are trying to evade creditors.
Each state has different laws regarding what you can and cannot name your baby.
In California, a name cannot contain umlauts or accents.
In Texas, Roman numerals are allowed for suffixes but not Arabic ones (i.e., you can name your child John Smith III but not John Smith 3).
In every state, a name cannot contain inappropriate or offensive language.
Wait for it to go before the judge.
A judge will review your order, although it is not likely you will need to appear before the judge. In many cases, if you get your petition in in the morning, your case can be heard in the afternoon. When the proceedings are done, you will be issued paperwork showing your name has been legally changed that you can take to other offices.
Begin the process quickly.
When applying for a name change with the Social Security Administration (SSA), the administration asks that your documentation be within the last 2 years. In addition, you’ll need your social security card to change other documents, so contacting the SSA should be your second step.
Find the form to print out and fill in.
You’ll be able to print out the form you need from the SSA’s website. You must mail it in, which is why you need to print it out, though you can also get it from your local SSA office. For the form, you’ll give basic information such as your address and the names of your parents.
Find the documents you’ll need.
You must show you’re a citizen, and a certified birth certificate is the best way. If you don’t have that, you may be able to use your passport. For instance, you’ll need the court order that shows you have a new name. If you changed your name by marriage or divorce, you’ll need that documentation.
Walk in or mail in your form.
You can easily walk your forms into your local SSA office, and that may be best, as the clerk can help you if you’re missing anything. If that’s not an option for you, you can mail the form instead. You will also mail it to your local SSA office. This form does not require a fee.
Expect your card in the mail.
Your social security card should arrive within a week or two. Officially, the SSA says it takes about 10 business days, as long as you provided everything you needed.
Gather your documents.
You’ll need the court order changing your name, your marriage certificate, or your divorce decree. You should also take your current driver’s license and your new social security card.
Present your documents.
You need to request the change in person. Take your documents to an office that issues driver’s licenses. You can find the closest one by looking at the DMV’s website. The website also has important information such as the hours and driving directions.
Make a payment.
You do have to pay to change your license. As of 2015, the fee is $10, as long as your license isn’t about to expire.
Change your vehicle registration.
If you change your name, you also need to update your vehicle registration. You can go through this process at the same time you change your license, though you need to go to a vehicle licensing office or a quick title office instead.
You’ll need the court order that changed your name and your car title. You’ll also need to pay a fee, which is $31 at a vehicle licensing office as of 2015 or $81 if you use a quick title office. The vehicle licensing office takes about 2 months to return the new title to you, while a quick title place can do it immediately.
Instead of taking it in, you can mail the information to Refunds and Title Services, Department of Licensing, PO Box 9909, Olympia, WA 98507-8500.
Don’t forget to change your name everywhere.
Once you’re done with the DMV, you still have some work ahead of you. You need to change your name with your bank, on your credit cards, on your passport, with your job, and at your school. Be sure to bring along your social security card and your new driver’s license to prove that your name has changed. You may also need your marriage certificate.
File a name change petition in the county where the child lives.
To change a minor’s name, you must be the minor’s parent or their legal guardian. To obtain a petition, go to the county court’s website where the minor child lives and download the Minor Name Change Petition. After accessing the correct form, you will need to fill it out and file it.
To fill out the form, you will need:
Your name and the parents names (if you are not the parent);
The child’s current name;
The child’s new name;
The reasons for the name change; and
To certify that you are not changing the name for fraudulent purposes and that the change will not harm the interests of anyone else.
To file the form, you will need to take the completed original to the county court where the child lives. There, the court clerk will accept the petition and assign it a case number.
Pay the filing fee.
When you file the name change petition, you will need to pay a filing fee. Each county in Washington will have different fees, so be sure you check with the court you will be filing with to check the amount. For example, in Pierce County, the filing fee is $137.00.
If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may be able to get it waived if you can prove your inability to pay. To get a waiver, you may be required to provide bank statements, pay stubs, and proof of public benefits.
Schedule a court date.
After paying the filing fee, the clerk of courts will schedule a court date for you. On the scheduled day, you and any other interested party will appear before a judge in order to explain why the name change should be approved.
Notify the other parent.
After you file your petition, you will need to notify one or both of the child’s parents. Each parent has the right to challenge the name change petition. Furthermore, in Washington, each parent has an equal right to have the child have their last name.
Get the child’s permission.
If the child is 14 or older, they must give their own consent to the name change. If this is the case, have the child sign the petition before you file it.
Go to court.
On your court date, the judge will hear each side of the case and consider the child’s wishes; the effect of the change on the child and the relationship with either parent; and any embarrassment or harassment the child may receive if the name change is granted or denied.
Record your order.
If the child’s name change is granted, you will need to record the name change order with the county auditor. In some counties, this will automatically be done when the name change is granted. In other counties, you will have to do this yourself.
While there is a fee for recording something with the county auditor, this fee is usually included when you file the name change petition. For example, in Pierce County, part of the $137.00 fee is the cost of recording the name change order.