Is a name change public record?

You can’t search for the word ‘name’ because it’s too common. Anyways, is a name change public record? Is the occurence in court public record but not the new name? How’s that work?

If you legally change your name, that is, you go to a judge and file paperwork and get your name changed, then it will be a public record. But they are likely just kept at the local level.

Go to your local county courthouse and ask around.

However, if someone is just changing their name because of a marriage that will likely not be as easy to find.

I don’t have a specific instance. I’m just curious in theory. Thanks, Bob :slight_smile:

IANAL, and all that, but…

It’s my understanding that in virtually every English-speaking jurisdiction, you have the right to assume whatever name you choose, so long as there is no intent to defraud. I.e., you cannot change your name to avoid paying debts, but you can choose to change it for whatever reason you have that is not an attempt to escape legal responsibilities.

It’s customary to make a public record of it by publishing a legal ad, and/or going before a judge to have a formal decision on court record. But there’s nothing to prevent someone whose birth certificate says “Rainbow Bright Smith” changing it to “Jessica Louise Smith,” or “Sadie Lipschitz” changing it to “Gwen Hazel Campbell” if she so chooses. The use of legal ads and court-recognized changes is to have something on record to convince the DMV, the Board of Elections, and so on that you are legally and officially who you claim to be.

Rules vary depending on where you live. In the U.S., they vary from state to state. One state I used to live in requires all name changes to be printed in the newspaper in the “public notices” section before they’re considered valid.

In any case, you can go to the courthouse where the name change was registered, and the paperwork is available to the general public.

When our son Eric was born my husband and myself could not come to agreement on the name initially so I signed the birth ccertificate for “male Fxxxx” and was given a paper to send in when the name had been decided which we turned in the next day.

Fast forward 4+ years to the time for kindergarten enrollment when a certified copy of the birth certificate was needed. Much to our surprise we learned that a mistake had been made by the person who entered the additional information and they used the father’s name as the child’s name. Our son was actually legally named (father’s name) Jr. An affidavit was filed saying an error had been made but it would require a legal name change with the court. The alternative is that our son has a three page document of a birth certificate for (father’s name) Jr AKA Eric T. Fxxxxx.

His Social Security number, driver’s license etc are in the name of Eric but his “name at birth” is still legally considered Father’s name Jr.

When my first son was born I gave him my last name, as his father and I were not together, and I saw no reason to give him his father’s last name.
Fast forward 2 years and his father and I are a couple again. We discuss changing our son’s last name to his, and after a drive to the hall of records, showing our ID’s, and handing them $15, we were presented with a new birth certificate for our son. I was amazed at how simple the process was. (This was in NJ.)

In my state of Indiana, there are 3 answers. You may change your name without any government action, as long as the change is not for the purpose of fraud. If you are Don Juan Acton, and you don’t like all the jokes, you can be Dennis James Acton if you want.

If you are Al Pockowitz, and, for business purposes, you want to be Mr. Drainfixer, you can avoid pitfalls by filing a “Doing Business As,” or DBA with the county. Some examples: Buster Mancken buys Roger’s Bar & Grill. He keeps the bar’s name, and files a DBA. Steve Scour and Barry Burnish form a cleaning service, a partnership, Partners In Grime. They file a DBA.

If you want to do it formally, and remove all doubt, you can go to court for the change from Roger Julius Vachss to Round John Virgin.

Yet, this is a state that has over-the-phone denied me to get a duplicate copy of my driver’s license when I lost my wallet, even though I have indicated I can send them a copy of my military ID card and pay stub (with NJ highlighted)? :rolleyes:

But then again, I have seen in multiple communities where they publish notices to the public on the legal hearings/proceedings in the newspaper classifieds, just to give the public a chance to respond to the petition. So, in that way, it also becomes public record.

I just want a copy of my drivers license. I don’t want to change my name.

How do you find a name change from over 50 years ago? I know his name now, his parents name, and that he was in the service. Anybody know or have any ideas?

That gives me a bright idea! I’m going to change my name to Name and thus render myself unsearchable!

Zombie alert.

Change your name to what Prince used for a bit and you’ll be unsearchable since nobody has that button on their keyboard[sup]1[/sup].

FTR for quibblers: Yes, *I *know all about composing arbitrary Unicode strings on a standard keyboard. As do you. But not 99.5% of the rest of the populace.

Do you know when and where the change occurred?

For example, if you know he went before a judge in New Madrid, MO in 1972 you can look up the records for that court.

The more you know about where, when, and how the easier it gets.

But that was all just a publicity/artistic thing.
He still kept the name he was given at birth as his legal name, and he is listed on voter records here in Minnesota as P. R. Nelson.

My name is not what was is on my birth certificate. I have never gone through any formal name change and I don’t think anybody could find my birth name (unless I have mentioned it to them; I have never kept it secret). In those benighted days you did not have to show a birth certificate to register for school, or get a social security card. With slightly more difficulty, I have got passports in my assumed name. Incidentally, my parents started using this new name before I was one, so I have never actually used the other one.

Quebec is different. They use the old civil code (I think it must go back to the Roman code) and do not allow informal name changes. What they would do if they discovered that my name has been changed, I cannot imagine. When I fill out forms, a question is often “Nom a la naissance” but I ignore those instructions. It is mainly to prevent women from using their married name, which is not permitted legally. Under the old code, it was required, now it is forbidden.

Brilliant! </OP>