How to Change Your Name in Louisiana
Most folk change their names when getting married, divorced, or for reasons specific to them. Name changes have occurred for centuries, but convincing key government agencies to change your Social Security, driver's license, voter registration, and all that other fun stuff requires some paperwork. Depending on your circumstances, it may also require going to court. We'll show you how to change your name in Louisiana, including:
- Identifying the right process for you;
- Figuring out where to file the necessary paperwork; and
- How to start using a new name
1. Identify and Follow the Correct Louisiana Legal Name Change Process
Changing your name is a personal decision. Many people wish to take their spouse's surname (last name) after marrying them. Others, going through a divorce, decide to return to a former name. Some people, never having liked their name, or due to changing family relationships, change their names for reasons unique to them. There are different processes available for each of these situations and more. Determine which applies to you.
It's easiest to change your surname when getting married. Traditionally, wives took their husbands' last names upon getting married, and while this is no longer legally required it remains the most common practice. Marriage does not automatically change a person's name, but it allows them to change it if they wish.
Soon before getting married, apply for a marriage license. Fill out the marriage license application form and return it to the parish's designated office. Once married, submit the completed license and you'll eventually receive a marriage certificate. It's a good idea to get a few certified copies – you'll need them to change important docs such as your Social Security Card and driver's license.
A divorce requires a legal proceeding. Assets are divvied up, child custody and support payments are decided, and once completed a divorce decree is issued by a court. This is often a long, drawn out, and emotional process. Many spouses who changed their name upon getting married wish to go back to their old name. Accomplishing this can be done during the divorce process.
Parties can ask the court handling their divorce to confirm a name change. If granted, this will be reflected in the court's final divorce decree. The divorce decree will contain an order changing your name back, and this can be used to prove a name change.
Petition for a Change of Name
All other name changes outside another legal process will require petition a court. Louisiana residents can file a petition in state district court. What happens next and steps you'll need to take vary from parish to parish, but expect to:
- Fill out the petition form in detail, giving your reasons for changing your name;
- Support the petition by proving your identity, possibly including your birth certificate and photo ID;
- Attend a court hearing on the name change petition; and
- Satisfy the judge that your name should be changed.
There are some legal restrictions. Anyone convicted of a felony cannot change their name until their sentence (probation, imprisonment, and parole included) are completed. Louisiana law also prohibits those convicted of 'crimes of violence' from petitioning for a name change. Fraudulent, illegal name changes are a bad idea. Changing your name to escape debts, lawsuits, taxes, child or spousal support payments, or criminal charges won't work.
The judge will consider your petition and may grant or deny it. If granted, you can receive a certified copy of the order changing your name.
2. Update Your Social Security, Driver's License, and Voter Registration
Your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order changing your name is necessary to update your identification and official documents. Start by visiting the local Social Security office to receive a revised Social Security card.
Once that's accomplished, contact the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles to receive a driver's license in your new name. Use that to update your U.S. passport, voter registration, and other official documents.
3. Start Using Your New Name
Changing names will inevitably throw people off. Make sure you inform family, friends, employers, banks, creditors, insurers, your kids' schools, and neighbors about your new name to avoid confusion. Update social media and email accounts as well.
Get the Forms You Need in Louisiana
While a name change is a relatively straightforward legal task, it can prove confusing and time-consuming. Hiring a lawyer can make it expensive as well. Try using our Louisiana name change forms to get started now.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.