A name change is nothing new, as people have been engaging in the practice for centuries. The reasons behind wanting a different name vary, with some more common than others. For instance, marriage and divorce represent the majority of people who wish to change their name, or change it back to what it was before they met their former spouse.

In addition to marriage and divorce, other top reasons for a name change may include any of the following:

  • Dislike of the current name;
  • Husband taking Wife’s Name: This process is streamlined in 9 states, with others likely to follow suit;
  • Changing a Child’s Surname: Common in cases involving absent fathers;
  • Combining or hyphenating surnames to create a new name;
  • Transgender name changes;
  • Desire for a More or Less “Ethnic” Name: Some individuals request a name change for ease of pronunciation or spelling, or they choose to return to their heritage by choosing a surname that represents their cultural background;
  • Religious Reasons: Similar to the above, a person may wish to adopt a name that honors their personal beliefs or religious affiliation; and
  • Political or Personal Statement: Some individuals wish to make a statement with their name, such as Christopher Garnett, who changed his name to KentuckyFriedCruelty.com.

Of course, not every reason behind a legal name change request is in fact, legal. If an individual is seeking a new name as a means to avoid paying debts, or any other reason that is considered fraudulent, the court will deny his or her request. The court usually does not need a good reason for a name change, but whatever the reason is, it cannot be nefarious in nature.

How Do I Get a Court Order for a Name Change?

Depending on the reason for changing a person’s name, it may be necessary to obtain a court order. In cases that don’t involve marriage as a basis for a name change, going through the petition process may be required. Prior to petitioning the court, it may be in the individual’s best interest to consult an attorney.

To begin, you can file an application for change of name with the probate court in whichever Oregon county you reside. Some counties provide the forms you will need at the courthouse, whereas others require you to furnish your own forms. You will need the following:

  • Petition for Change of Name;
  • Notice of Change of Name Hearing;
  • Affidavit — Proof of Posting Notice of Hearing;
  • Affidavit — Proof of Posting Notice of Name Change;
  • Change of Name Decree; and
  • Notice of Change of Name Decree

An attorney can assist with gathering the correct forms, filling in the information, and filing the forms with the court. If the courthouse does not have the forms available, you may be able to find them online.

What Do I Need to File with Oregon for a Name Change?

Since counties vary, it is important to find the correct information, required documents,  and steps you need to take as it pertains to your own jurisdiction.

You will need to fill in the required information on the Petition for Change of Name, entering your current name and proposed name. Do not sign the form yet, as it needs to be notarized. You must also fill out the Notice of Change of Name Hearing form, and contact your county to find out when name change hearings take place, so that you can pick a date with the clerk.

Ask the court clerk for information on the affidavits listed above, and when you should sign and file those documents. Visit the clerk on the day of your hearing, and bring at least two copies of every document with you. Once the judge signs the decree, you will need to find out about posting the Notice of Change of Name Decree. Usually, they are posted for 14 days, at which point you can take the affidavits and the other documents to the clerk to be notarized and filed with the court.

How Does Oregon Prevent Name Change Fraud?

The process of legally changing a person’s name aims to prevent fraud by requiring the individual to take the necessary steps that will put them in front of a judge. The actual hearing is a time for the judge to ask questions, and make a decision as to whether the individual’s request is a legal one. If the judge finds otherwise, the request will be denied.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Name Change?

If you wish to legally change your name in Oregon, you can consult a family law attorney in your jurisdiction. As mentioned above, there are a number of documents and steps involved in the legal process of changing one’s name, and an experienced lawyer can help you to navigate the legal system with ease and assurance. Furthermore, having an attorney review your documents will prevent mistakes and delays in your case.

However, many people can file for a name change without any problems, and it is possible to proceed without help from a lawyer. While you do need to go to court and have a judge sign a decree, it typically does not require any legal arguments or anything beyond a formal protocol.