Legal Name Change in California

How to Legally Change Your Name in California

People change their names for a variety of reasons:

  1. 1. Some individuals simply do not like their birth names,
  2. 2. Others change their names because of a divorce,
  3. 3. Some parents seek a name change for their child to match parental surnames or the surname of an adoptive parent, or
  4. 4. People seek name changes to accurately reflect their gender identities.


In order to change one’s name in California, people need to seek a court order, or permission from a judge. Once the legal name change request is granted, the individual may change his or her birth certificate, social security card, bank or financial matters, or passport, to name a few.

Changing Your Name is Easy as 1, 2, 3

The process to legally change your name in California starts and ends in the court house. The process itself can take up to three months to complete, and longer in areas that are more populous or have a busier court system.


The first step is to complete and file a petition for change of name. Thereafter, the second step is to appear in court when summoned to discuss your petition with the judge. Typically, the appearance date is six to 12 weeks from the date you filed your petition. The final step involves receiving permission to change your name. The court issues a decree or order legally giving you permission to change your name.

Special Circumstances

California does not require a name change petition or decree to change your gender. Should you change your gender, you can process the request at the DMV, the U.S. passport office, the Social Security Administration, and even obtain an amended copy of your birth certificate, if you were born in California, without a court order. If you were not born in California, you will need to obtain a name and gender decree to request an amended birth certificate from your place of birth.


California law also protects victims of domestic violence. They can process a confidential name change under the Safe at Home program. Incarcerated persons, including those released to parole or probation, must seek written consent to change their names with the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation or the incarcerated person’s probation officer.

Obtain Assistance with Your California Legal Name Change Petition

The court may deny a petition for a legal name change if you fail to follow the correct filing procedure. The petition may be incomplete, missing information, or fail to include the required filing fee. Furthermore, a court may also deny a legal name change petition in either of the following situations:

  1. 1. If the person seeking to change his or her name aims to commit fraud, or
  2. 2. If someone hides a true identity from law enforcement or other government agencies.


Seek assistance from a California Legal Document Assistant to prepare and file your legal name change petition. To ensure a stress-free and smooth process, contact IntegriDocs to assist you with completing and filing the name change paperwork!

Contact Us!

IntegriDocs provides affordable attorney services including low-cost legal document preparation services in California for those not seeking legal representation and needing only assistance in drafting legal documents.

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