A big statement to the world about who you are, there is something really powerful in a name. When your name no longer matches your gender identity, there are steps you can take to legally change your name to one that helps complete your identity. From emotional to practical, there are many positive reasons to change your name for transgender individuals.
Adult Name Changes
The process for adults wanting to change their name is simple, but can seem daunting and nerve wrecking, especially if you are changing your name to match your gender identity. You don’t have to go it alone, we are happy to help and make the process much smoother. If you decide to go it alone, we hope this blog helps you in the process.
The process to change your name is as simple as filing the correct documents, publishing a notice in the local legal publication and attending a hearing. Each step is as important as the others and all are required in order to legally change your name.
The first document that gets filed is the Petition for Name Change. This short document is simply the request to the court to give you a case number, a hearing date, and ultimately an Order for Name Change. The Petition includes very general information including your current legal name and the name that you prefer.
After filing the Petition, you can get a hearing date from the court by either calling the Clerk’s Office or the bailiff directly if you know which judge will be on your case. The hearing date must be scheduled at least four or more weeks after you have filed the Petition. This is because you are required to publish your request for the name change in a local, legal publication such as the Daily Record. The publication has some specific requirements including the case name and number, the specific time and location of the hearing and your current legal name and preferred name. This publication is to give the public, specifically creditors, notice that you are requesting to change your name.
The legal publication will send you proof of publication that is required to be filed with the Court before your hearing. Depending on the legal publication, they may file it for you but you should contact the Court to confirm or bring a copy with you to the hearing.
At the hearing, you should bring with you a copy of your Petition and a proposed Order for Name Change. The hearing is usually very short and you will answer some questions from the judge You should be prepared to tell the judge the reason that you want to change your name. It is OK to simply state “I want to change my name to match my gender identity”, assuming that is the reason.
You will leave the hearing with a copy of the signed Order and should then request about 3-5 certified copies. You will use these at the Social Security office to obtain a new social security card, the DMV for a new identification card and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Vital Statistics Office for a new birth certificate. Other financial agencies such as your bank or credit cards may ask for a copy as well.
Minor Name Changes
The process for minors is similar but requires, usually, both parents to consent to the name change. If a name change for a minor is contested, you will need to do some additional filing requirements to show that the other parent has received notice of the hearing. Depending on the age of your child, the judge will take into consideration the desire of the child, the child’s best interest and the co-parent’s position when determining if a minor child’s name will be changed.
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Some clients prefer to have an attorney represent them to navigate this process and we are happy to help. Sometimes, a minor error on the publication or petition may mean you have to republish correctly and continue the hearing. An attorney specializing in this area can help keep it efficient for you.
If you decide to file on your own, the Nebraska Supreme Court has a self-help website with more information about the process.
This article should not be construed as legal advice. Everyone has a unique case and it’s impossible to provide legal advice without knowing the facts unique to your situation.