Choosing Your Name
“Change is painful, but nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”
Our name identifies us to the world, yet it is usually chosen for us by others. Our name can signal our membership in a family, culture, community, or religion, or even our attachment or commitment to the person or people who share it with us. When those connections and relationships enrich and empower our lives, we might embrace and celebrate our name. But sometimes we go through powerful and transformative experiences in our lives that mark a turning point — “before and after” experiences or realizations that alter our relationships not only with others, but with ourselves, and, thus, with our own name. Sometimes we go through a journey that leaves us wishing to give ourselves the gift of a name we have chosen ourselves.
"They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."
The first thing to know about choosing a name is that it is a choice the law empowers adults to make for themselves. As long as you are not doing it for illegitimate purposes (e.g., to hide from the law, evade creditors, or steal someone else’s identity), you are allowed to choose your name. That includes your first, middle, and last names. You can reclaim a former name, repurpose one of your current names (e.g., make your middle name your last name), or even choose a name you never had before.
The second thing to know about choosing your name is that if you want to make it official, it’s a legal process. That means if you want your chosen name to be the one that appears on official documents (e.g., driver’s license, passport, social security card, tax forms, etc.) you need to understand and follow all the formal rules and procedures for doing so. Giving yourself the gift of a new name may be one of the most beautiful and empowering things you ever do, but it still involves forms, fees, filings, and fingerprints!
"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."
Which brings us to the third thing you need to know about choosing your name: We can help you do it! Whether you are divorcing or divorced, separating or separated, transitioning or transitioned, or simply wish to celebrate your new life with a new chosen name, we can guide you through the legal process you’ll need to follow to make it official.
Our firm created our NameChoice experience to make it as easy and efficient as possible for you to give yourself the gift of a chosen name. With NameChoice, one of our experienced, dedicated attorneys, will skillfully and compassionately guide you through the entire legal process of choosing your new name, from ensuring you properly complete and file all the required forms and documents, to appearing with you before the Judge at your name change Hearing.
If you are curious about choosing your name, we would love to help guide you. We can help answer your questions and share insights you might not have considered yet. And if you ever need help navigating any part of your name choice journey, whether inside or outside of the Courtroom, we’ll be here to support you with expertise, experience, and compassion.
“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”