There are many reasons for seeking a name change:
- You want your name to reflect your gender identity
- You were not legally adopted, but would like to take your stepparent's last name
- You are divorced and want to return to your maiden name
- You want to take you mother's family name
- You and your spouse/partner want to combine your last names to create a hyphenated or completely new last name
In the past, it was not uncommon for government agencies to accept a change of name based on common usage, despite what was on that individual’s birth certificate, or despite the lack of a birth certificate. Security regarding individual identity has tightened in the post-9/11 world, however, and government agencies are increasingly hesitant to recognize a change of name or issue new forms of identification without a court order granting a name change or authorizing the issuance of a delayed birth certificate. Further, certain identifying documents bearing one’s name, such as a Social Security card or out-of-state driver’s license, used to be sufficient for obtaining new or current identification. This is no longer the case in almost all states/state agencies, and many, like the South Carolina DMV, now require a valid, certified birth certificate before issuing a license for the first time.
In South Carolina, legal name changes (not incident to marriage or divorce) and delayed birth certificates can only be obtained via court order. A person seeking a change of name or issuance of a delayed birth certificate must petition the family court in the county where s/he resides and will typically be required to attend a hearing before a family court judge to obtain an order. Additionally, the pre-court process is laden with cumbersome and confusing paperwork. To those unfamiliar with the process, it may seem quite overwhelming and, ultimately, not worth the effort.
If you’re considering a name change, contact our office and let one of our experienced attorneys help you navigate the process. No matter your reason for seeking a legal name change, we can will walk you through each step from beginning to end to ensure that your experience as painless as possible!