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This content was last updated on 3/31/2022

Can I legally change my name?

You can change your name legally through a court process. You file a form called Petition for Name Change in the county where you live. The District Judge in the county looks over your Petition. If the Judge okays (grants) your Petition, your name is changed.

Once your name is changed, it is your responsibility to tell everyone that needs to know. Make sure you think about all the legal, public and private agencies, companies and other people who need to know.

If I was born in another state, but live in Kentucky now, can the Kentucky court change my name?

Yes. Kentucky law lets any person living in a Kentucky county change their name. It does not matter where you were born or where your birth certificate was issued as long as you are a Kentucky resident now. 

Who can file for a name change?
  • You can change your own name if you are a legal adult (18 or over)
  • You can change your minor child’s name if you are their biological parent or guardian. 

 

Name Change for Adults

 

 

I am an adult and want to change my name.  What do I need to do?

You need to file a form called a Petition for Name Change. This form must be typed. You can type right on the form to fill it out. Don’t print it and fill it out by hand.

After you fill out the form, print it out and take it to the Office of the Circuit Court Clerk in the county where you are going to file. Do not sign the form until you are in front of the Circuit Court Clerk. You also need to take a valid photo ID with you.

If I live on a military base in Kentucky, where can I file for a name change?

You can file in the district court in any county next to the military base.

Do I have to go to court to get my named changed?

If you want to change your name and you have a valid photo ID, you don’t have to go to court. You can file the necessary paperwork with the Circuit Court Clerk.

If you don’t have a photo ID, a court date has to be set up. Call the Office of Circuit Court Clerk in your county to schedule a court date.

If the Court okays my name change, what happens next?

If the court approves your name change, they give you a Decree of Name Change. Ask for several certified copies of the Decree. This is your proof that your name change is legal.

Who do I need to tell that I changed my name?

You need to tell: 

  • government agencies – like the Social Security Administration
  • your employer
  • your creditors
  • other agencies and businesses that you deal with – like insurance companies and banks

Kentucky law says that you have to change your driver’s license within 10 days of your name change.  You can find a list of Driver Licensing Regional Offices here:  drive.ky.gov

I am an adult and I want to change my name, but my parents do not want me to. Can they stop me?

No. The parents of an adult do not have the right to object to an adult’s name change.

 

Name Change for Children

 

Can I change my child’s name?

The rules for changing a child’s names are more complicated.

To start the name change for your child, file a form called a Petition for Name Change. This form must be typed. You can type right on the form to fill it out. Don’t print it and fill it out by hand.

After you fill out the form, print it out and take it to the Office of the Circuit Court Clerk in the county where you are going to file. Do not sign the form until you are in front of the court clerk.

If both biological parents agree to the name change and sign the Petition, the Court changes the child’s name.  

If one parent of the child(ren) has died, the living parent can file the Petition.

If one parent does not agree to the name change and won’t sign the Petition, or one parent is not around to sign the Petition, the parent signing the Petition must let the other parent know about the proposed name change.  

When you fill out the Petition, make sure you put in the other parent’s last known address. If the other parent doesn’t want to sign, it might be good to talk to a lawyer.

The Clerk will take the Petition and ask you to sign it. They fill in the court date, time, and courtroom number. There has to be a court hearing for a name change for a child. The clerk should give you a copy of the Petition with the stamped filed date, the court date and time and the courtroom number filled in on the form.

How do I let the other parent know I am filing for a name change for our child?

Ask the Clerk to serve the other parent by certified mail or by having the Sheriff take the petition to the other parent. Make sure the court date and time and the courtroom number are filled in on the form.

If you have the Clerk mail the Petition, you have to pay the certified mailing fee.

If you want the Sheriff’s office to serve the other parent, the Clerk gives you a second copy of the Petition and summons for you to take to the Sheriff’s office. You have to pay the Sheriff’s Office directly for the service.

At the court hearing, the parent asking for the name change has to tell the Judge why they want the child’s name changed. The Judge decides if the child’s name can be changed.  

If my child and I live on a military base, where do I file to change the name of my child?

You can file in the district court in any county next to the military base where you and your child live.

What does it cost to file for a name change with the court?

The filing fee for a name change is different from county to county. Contact the Office of the Circuit Court Clerk in your county for information on the filing fee costs.

 

More Information

 

Can I change any of my names (first, middle or last)?

Kentucky law does not give a limit on what names can be changed. You can change any of your names. Just make sure you say in the Petition which name or names you want to change.

If I am getting a divorce, do I have to file for a name change with the Court?

No. Ask the Court to restore your maiden name or a former name in your divorce papers. The Court can change your name once the divorce is final.

If I am in the process of adopting a child, do I have to file for a name change for the child once the adoption is complete?

No. Adoptive parents can put the name they want for the child in the adoption papers. The Court can change the child’s name once the adoption is final.

What if I want to change my name for safety reasons?

If you think changing your name can help keep you safer because of domestic violence and/or stalking experiences, contact your local domestic violence program or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for more information and help.

 

 

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