How to Change Your Name in Colorado
We're given our names at birth, and they're scattered throughout every part of our lives. People know and refer to us by our name. We sign documents in our name. Government offices issue birth certificates, driver licenses, and Social Security cards in our name. Banks and businesses provide bank accounts, credit cards, and loans in our name. People even sue us in our name. So, as you might imagine, when it's time to change your name there's some work to do.
How to change your name in Colorado mostly depends on your situation. We'll cover the most frequent name changes here, including how to:
- Identify the right process for you;
- Figure out the paperwork that needs to be filed; and
- Use your new name after it's changed.
So whether you're getting married in Denver, divorced is Aspen, or making a statement in Boulder, read on to find out how to change your name in Colorado.
1. Identify and Follow the Correct Colorado Legal Name Change Process
Marriage is the most common time and reason for name changes. Couples take one spouse's name, hyphenate or combine their names, or otherwise modify their names. A marriage name change is an old tradition and the law recognizes this reality.
A Colorado state marriage license serves as proof of a marital name change. Fill out the marriage license and certificate in your existing, pre-marriage name. Colorado gives you the option to sign the certificate in your new name once the marriage is finalized. Once the ceremony is performed, your marriage license can be used to update other documents.
Many separating or divorcing spouses want to shed their marital name. But there are other considerations that can cloud the question. Parents may wish to keep the same last name as their children. Or you might decide to stick with your name, only to regret that decision down the road.
The Centennial State allows a divorcing party to change their name back after divorce or separation. You can request this as part of a normal divorce filing and a court will generally grant this request. You can also restore your previous name after the divorce is final too, so there's no rush if you're still uncertain.
Petition for a Change of Name
You can also file a petition for a change of name in court. This is a more protracted process. Petitioning for a name change generally involves:
- Filling out a petition and filing it with your local court;
- Verifying the petition by affidavit;
- Laying out the reasons for seeking a name change;
- Submitting a criminal history check, at your expense, to the court and disclosing any additional criminal dispositions;
- Publishing notice of your petition in a local newspaper three times, and filing proof of publication with the court;
- Attending a court hearing where the court will consider your petition.
Colorado is keen to prevent fraud, identity theft, and other evils that may arise from a name change. Petitions can be denied if the name change would be detrimental to anyone else, is made for a fraudulent or illegal purpose, or would be improper in the eyes of the judge. Convicted felons face a higher mountain to climb and are ordinarily prohibited from changing their names, though there are some narrow exceptions.
If satisfied, the court can grant your petition and issue an order changing your name. Get certified copies of that order, as they'll be necessary to update your Social Security card and driver license.
2. File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
Marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order in hand, your next stop is the local Social Security office. Get your Social Security card reissued in your new name. Then, visit the Colorado DMV to change the name on your driver's license. An updated Social Security card and driver license will allow you to prove you are who you now say you are.
3. Start Using Your New Name
Using your new name is important. Tell family, friends, your employer, colleagues, neighbors, and other contacts that your name has changed. Contact your bank, insurance company, creditors, and similar parties as well, and update your email accounts and social media.
Get the Forms You Need in Colorado
While a name change is ordinarily a routine legal process, figuring out the paperwork can be confusing. You could hire an attorney, but hiring an attorney is expensive. FindLaw has a better solution for you. Use our Colorado name change forms instead and save yourself the time, energy, and money.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.