We represent a lot of clients in divorce actions in Texas Family Law Courts.  The majority of the female clients inquire about changing their names or restoring their name to their former surname.   In other cases,  we have clients that are not involved in a divorce action and request to change their names as well.

In summary, an adult may file a petition requesting a change of name in the county of the adult’s place of residence (Tex. Fam. Code Section 45.101).  It is not necessary for a married petitioner’s spouse to be made a party to the suit for a name change.

The petition for a name change must be verified and include the present name and place of residence of the petitioner, the full name requested  for the petitioner, the reason for the change in name is requested, whether the petitioner has been the subject of a final felony conviction, whether the petitioner is subject to the registration requirements of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure chapter  62, and a legible and complete set of the petitioner’s fingerprints on a fingerprint card format acceptable  to the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Tex. Fam. Code Section 45.102(a)).  The petition must include a number of it4e4ms of information or a reasonable explanation of why one or more is not included.

A party may waive service after the suit is filed by filing a waiver acknowledging receipt of a copy of the citation.  The waiver may not be signed using a digitized signature.   The waiver must contain the party’s mailing address, and it must be s4eorn before a notary public who in not an attorney in the suit unless the party waiving  is incarcerated.   The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure do not apply  to these waivers  (Tex. Fam. Code Section 45.107).

In a suit to change the name of an adult brought under the Family code chapter 45, subchapter B, the court shall order a change of name for any person other than a person with a final felony conviction or a person subject to the registration  requirement of the Texas Code of Criminal  Procedure  chapter 62, if the change is in the interest or to the benefit of the petitioner and in the interest of the public (Tex. Fam. Code Section 45.103(a)).

Generally, if you are an adult and has no criminal record, and are trying to just get rid of your name and get a more appropriate name,  you are going to get it from the court.  The granting of an application for change of name is a matt4er of judicial discretion and should be granted unless there exists some wrongful, fraudulent, or capricious purpose; however, a person does not have an absolute right to change his name by court order.  The court has wide discretion in deciding whether to grant a petition for change of name of an adult and may inquire into many areas, other than sex, such as whether the petitioner has judgments against him or has been a bankrupt or whether the change  is sought to conceal  an adverse credit rating or a criminal record  or to otherwise work a fraud.

A court may order a change of name under Family code chapter 45, subchapter B, for a person with a final felony conviction if, in addition to the requirement of Family Code section 45.103(a), the person has been pardoned or has received a certificate of discharge by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or completed a period of community Supervision or juv3enile probation order by a court and not less than 2 years have passed from the date of the receipt of discharge or completion of community supervision or juvenile probation.

And finally, on the final disposition of a suit for divorce, for annulment, or to declare a marriage void, the court shall change the name of the party specifically requesting the change to a name previously used unless the court states in the decree a reason  for denying the name change.  The court may not deny the name change solely to keep the last name of family members the same.

A change of name does not release a person from any liability incurred in that person’s previous name or defeat any right the person held under a previous name.  A person whose name has been changed in a suit for divorce, for annulment, or to declare a marriage void may apply for a change-of-name certificate from the clerk of the court as provided in the  Family Code section 45.106.

If you qualify for a name change under the Texas Family Code, make certain that your petition states the prayer for a name change to avoid any risks when you appear in front of a judge.