Individuals change their names in Florida and across most legal jurisdictions in the United States on a daily basis; the most common situations that prompt name changes are marriages and divorces, but adults are allowed to petition the court system for this purpose. This civil process can be accomplished through a law firm or on a do-it-yourself basis known as pro se.
Chapter 68 of the Florida Statutes provides the legal basis for a name change- The introduction to this chapter mentions chancery courts as the venues to carry out this process; this should be interpreted as the clerk of the circuit court, family division.
The bulk of the name change process consists of filling out Form 12.982(a), Petition for Name Change. This form starts off with a statement of full name as it currently appears on legal and official documents; this section must include a statement of full name desired. A declaration of current residential address, previous addresses and full names of parents is followed by marital status, names of minor children, and previous legal names.
In the case of a woman who wishes to revert to her maiden name while still married, a copy of the marriage certificate should be included with the petition. A history of occupations, professional licenses held and education should be included as well as a declaration of prior arrests, convictions and bankruptcies.
Along with Form 125.982(a), a Name Change Affidavit must be completed and signed; this sworn statement indicates whether the petitioner has been required to register as a sexual offender.
Since 2009, name change petitioners in Florida have been required to submit a set of electronic fingerprints that will be used to conduct a state and national criminal background investigation; this must be done at the Sheriff’s Office in the county where the petition is filed and may take a couple of weeks to be completed.
Petitioners who were born in Florida must complete Form DH247 in addition to an FDLE form that will be used by the court to issue the final judgment. The court fees must be paid at the time the aforementioned forms are filed with the county clerk. The fees are set by each jurisdiction; for example, the name change fee in Pinellas County was $400 in March 2018.
A hearing before a judge must be scheduled so that the judgment can be entered. In the case of women who are reverting to their maiden names while still married, the hearing can be granted on the spot. A single hearing is usually all it takes to finalize the process and issue a judgment; in case of written objections, the judge may need time to review them and allow the parties to respond.
Once the final name change judgment is issued, the next step will be to notify government and business entities so that adjustments can be made. It is better to start with the Social Security Administration and the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles before approaching professional licensing boards, banks, investment firms, insurance companies, utilities, schools, and business associations.