How to Change Your Legal Name in Washington State


There are all sorts of reasons why you might want to legally change your name, including marriage, divorce or a radical change in your life, or maybe you just really hate your name. In Washington state, it's relatively easy to change your name if you are being married or divorced, but if you simply wish to change your name for any other reason, several steps are involved.

Things You'll Need

  • Name Change Paperwork
  • Pen
  • Government Issued Photo ID
  • Acquire Petition for Name Change and Order for Name Change forms. The form may be available on your county's website, or you can call the courthouse and have them faxed or mailed to you. You can also stop by to pick the forms up.

  • Fill out the forms. You will need to include your old name and your new name, and you must affirm that you are not changing your name to avoid creditors or to defraud anyone. You will also need to state that you are not currently required to register as a sex offender or under parole. You will also need to give your reason for petitioning to change your name.

  • Turn the papers in to your district court along with the filing fee. At this time they will give you a court date, which is when you will come before a judge to plead your case.

  • Remember your court date. Although it's unlikely any action will be taken against you, technically you are summoned, and it is an offense to not show up.

  • When you arrive at the court wait until your name is called. You will then come forward, raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. After you are sworn in the judge will go over your form and make sure that everything is correct.

  • Take the order to the recording office once the judge approves and signs the court order. You will pay yet another fee. The court will generally will mail you a copy of the record a few days later, but you will leave with the order in your hand, which is all you need to start telling organizations that you have changed your name.

  • Remember to change your name on your driver's license, passport, insurance policies, online accounts, bank accounts and credit cards. You should inform the Internal Revenue Service and all doctors, dentists and schools.

Tips & Warnings

  • One reason to change your name is if you are best known by a name other than your birth name -- if, for example, you are always known by your middle name, a nickname or a stage name.
  • Different rules and procedures apply to changing the name of minor children. If you are changing your name and your children's names because of domestic violence, the proceedings will be kept confidential to protect you.
  • Be polite and quiet in the courtroom.
  • If you consistently use a new name for a while, it's considered a common-law name change. You may need an affidavit, signed and sworn before a notary public and filed with the court, to be able to change your name on legal documents.

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