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Can I legally change my name to anything?

Posted by Arnold A. Arpino | Feb 05, 2015 | 0 Comments

Most likely! You'd be surprised at the number of inquiries we receive from people who want to legally change their name. Everyone has a right to change their name. However, there are exceptions, such as: You are prohibited from changing your name to hide from your creditors.

You are prohibited from changing your name to escape criminal liability.

You can't change your name in order to commit a crime.

You can't change your name with the intention to mislead others. (Examples: changing your name to Tiger Woods or Katy Perry without showing a Court you have a valid reason for doing so).

You can't choose name that includes numerals or punctuation.  You are prohibited from changing your name to “2010!” However, some courts have permitted people to spell out the numbers, for example "Nine" instead of "9." The most famous example being a former NFL wide receiver changing his name from Chad Johnson to “Ocho Cinco” to match his jersey number.

You can't choose a name that would intimidate, offend, or be considered obscene. What are the most common reasons people change their names? Marriage and divorce are the two most common reasons people legally change their name.  That can be done by the Judge in a divorce proceeding, or by a government agency after a marriage. Other times, adult children who do not have a good relationship with their parents will legally change their last name to be disassociated with their mother or their father.  We often advise clients who wish to do this to think very long and hard about the potential consequences and potential negative impacts it can have on familial relationships. We've also legally changed a name for people who simply do not like their name.  We had one client in particular, who really did not like her first name.  In public, social settings, at work she would introduce herself by her middle name.  Most people she came into contact with never even knew her birth name, except for close friends and family.  What is the process to legally change your name? In New York a person is required to file a name change petition with the Supreme Court in the County that they reside in. This will include an order to show cause for legally changing your name, and a decree or order/judgment to legally change your name. Once these documents are prepared, they must be filed in the county clerks office with the required filing fees.  As of January, 2015 the required filing fees are $210.00 for an Index Number and $95.00 for a request for judicial intervention. Thereafter, A judge or will review your filings and grant the name change. New York also requires advertisement of the usage of your new name, which is accomplished by a listing with a local newspaper as ordered by the Court. At Arnold A. Arpino & Associates, P.C. we are able to help clients who wish to legally change their name.  Use the consult request feature on our website, or give us a call! All major credit cards are accepted, and payment plans are available as well.

About the Author

Arnold A. Arpino

Arnold practices Creditor's Rights & Collections, Health Law, Real Estate, & Estate Planning.

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Arnold A. Arpino & Associates, P.C., is a full service law firm that represents individuals and businesses in a variety of different practice areas. Our firm regularly appears in the Courts throughout Long Island, New York City, and the Hudson Valley.

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