How To Legally Change Your Name In Texas

All kinds of people might want or need to change their names for all kinds of different reasons.  Maybe you’re getting married or divorced, or maybe you just don’t like your name for whatever reason. 

In that situation, you’ll need to know exactly how to go about getting your name changed in Texas. 

In this article, we’ll go into detail about all the requirements you need to meet, what procedures you need to follow and the different conditions that apply to legally changing your name.  Let’s get started.

Do I Need A Court Order To Change My Name In Texas?

The answer to this question is usually yes.  However, there can be exceptions in cases of marriage or divorce.  If you have recently gotten married, it might be possible for you to do it without the need for a court order. 

To do this, you’ll need to show proof of your marriage to the driving license office and the social security office. If you are divorced, check the Final Decree of Divorce, the document that finalizes your divorce as official and legal. 

This document may or may not show that the court ordered that your name be changed as part of the divorce.  If it does, your name is changed, but if not, you’ll need to get a separate court order. 

Even if your name has been changed already, it will be up to you to make sure that it is changed on your official documents (social security card, driver’s license, state ID card etc.)

How Much Does It Cost To Change My Name In Texas?

It depends on which county you live in, but there is usually a fee associated with changing your name in Texas.  This is usually in the region of $150 – $300 but to find out for sure, you can contact the district clerk’s office for your county to ask them. 

If you are on a low income, then it might be possible for you to request that the court waive the fee.  You might also have to pay secondary costs, such as a fee for fingerprinting and a criminal background check.

Can I Change My Name In Texas If I Have A Criminal Record?

It might be possible, but it depends on the court’s decision.  You’ll need to provide information about any criminal convictions you have as part of the process. 

The court will consider these and decide whether changing your name is both in your interest and the interest of the public.  If they find that it is, they will grant the name change.

Things are a little different if you have a felony conviction, however.  A court is unable to change your name if you have been convicted of a felony unless the following three conditions apply:

  1. Either You have received a pardon
  2. Or at least two years have passed since you completed your sentence (i.e. left prison or completed probation)
  3. The name that you are requesting to switch to is the primary name used in the records of your criminal history

Things are different again if you’re required to register as a sex offender.  In that case, a court is unable to change your name unless two conditions are met:

  1. You have formally notified your local law enforcement authority that you are requesting a name change from the court
  2. You provide proof that you have done this to the court

Can I Change My Name In Texas If I’m Under 18?

No, to change your name in Texas, you must be 18 years of age or older.  However, your parent or legal guardian can file a name change request for you.

Will Changing My Name Also Change My Child’s Name?

No, changing your name will change your name only.  If you have children and want to change their names as well, then this will require a separate legal procedure.

Can I Change Both My First And Last Names?

You can change any or all of your names, or even keep them all and add them to another one.  For example, if your full name is Sarah Rebecca Brown, you can change all of these names or any combination of them.

How Long Does It Take To Change My Name In Texas?

The answer to this question depends on how busy your local district court is.  It could be as little as a few days, but at the other extreme it might take up to six months.

Other Restrictions

This is a list of restrictions that apply to changing your name via a court order in Texas.  Provided that you are in compliance with them, then there should be no problem for you if you want to change your name.

  • You are 18 years of age or above
  • You are filing your request in the county where you are legally registered as living
  • You are not trying to change your name for purposes of fraud or to avoid repaying debts
  • The new name you have chosen isn’t vulgar
  • You have a good reason for wanting to change your name
  • You do not have any felony convictions
  • If you do have a felony conviction, then you’ve either received a pardon or at least two years have passed since you completed your sentence.
  • You are not a sex offender
  • If you are a sex offender, then you informed your local law enforcement authorities that you are attempting to have your name changed and provided the court with proof of this.
  • You have given proof of all felonies and all misdemeanors of class A or B to the court

What Is The Procedure For Changing Your Name In Texas?

We’ve already mentioned the regulations and restrictions on changing your name, but what exactly is the procedure?  We’ll go over it step by step here.

  1. Complete your petition: This means filling in the form.  The form is fairly straightforward, but remember that a notary needs to witness you signing it, so don’t add your signature until you’ve met with one.  Make sure you get the adult’s name change form because the form for changing a child’s name is a different and separate one.  To submit it, you’ll need to pay the filing fee, unless you’re requesting that the court waive the fee, as mentioned above.
  2. Complete the order to change an adult’s name: Fill out, (but do not sign) the order to change an adult’s name.  The court will sign if they grant your request.
  3. Have your fingerprints taken: The Texas Department of Public Safety should be able to tell you when, where, and how you can make an appointment to do this.  Remember that there is also a fee for this process.
  4. Make copies of the court papers: This includes all documents that are associated with the process, including the petition, fingerprint card, etc.
  5. File your papers with the court clerk: You’ll need to file the original papers but make sure to bring the copies with you.  The clerk should stamp your copies as “filed”.
  6. Go to the court hearing: If you’re not sure of the time and date of your hearing, call the clerk to find out.  Make sure to bring all the relevant documents or copies of them.  The judge will ask you why you wish to change your name, so you might want to make sure you have your answers straight ahead of time.  If the court agrees to change your name, the judge will sign your order.
  7. File the order with the clerk: Even if you’re successful, you need to file the order to make your name change official.  It’s best to get two or more certified copies from the clerk because you’ll need them to show to various different agencies.
  8. Change documents and information to reflect your changed name: This includes everything from your driver’s license and social security card to your bank, employer, subscription services, and all kinds of other things.  Just about every organization or agency which uses your name will need to know that it’s been changed.  In particular, you must change the name on your driver’s license within 30 days of changing your name.

Final Thoughts

So, that’s just about it for changing your name in Texas.  It’s often not a quick, straightforward process, but hopefully, the information and advice in this article will be able to help you get through it. 

Remember, however, that neither this article, nor any other article you’ll find online, is a substitute for formal advice from a legal professional. 

If you’re still unsure about anything after reading this article, the best thing for you to do would be to contact a legal professional for further information and advice.

Robert Miller