A name is legally changed through a statutory process that begins with the filing of a Petition for Name Change. A Judge will review the Petition and, if granted, the petitioner or the petitioner’s minor child will have a new name. The person whose name was changed will be responsible for informing other relevant legal, public, and private entities of this change.
Kentucky law allows for a name change of a person residing in a Kentucky county. It does not matter where the person was born or where birth certificate was issued as long as the person is currently a Kentucky resident. Please contact a different law firm about the possibility of name change if you live in any other state, as our lawyers are only licensed in and familiar with Kentucky law concerning this topic.
People who commonly seek a name change include:
- Adult (18 or older), for self, simply because a name change is desired.
- Wife, for self, during a divorce proceeding before the final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is made (though if the proceeding is not anticipated to be lengthy, it may make more sense to request through the divorce pleadings and wait on the final Decree).
- Wife, for self, during or following an action for legal separation.
- Divorced wife, for self, who failed to include a restoration of her maiden or former name within her divorce pleadings and whose divorce is now final and her marital name intact.
- Person in a same sex couple, for self, to match partner’s last name (as same sex partners cannot be married in Kentucky under KRS 402.040(2).
- Mother, for child to take step father’s name.
- Mother, for child with father’s last name, if following a divorce father effectively abandons child by failing to provide required child support or exercise visitation.
- Mother, for child born out-of-wedlock, to any name without consent or participation of father if paternity has not been legally established (and therefore, father is not listed on child’s birth certificate. KRS 213.046.
- Mother, for child born out-of-wedlock, to father’s last name, whether or not paternity has been legally established.
- Father, for child born out-of-wedlock, to father’s last name, if child currently has mother’s last name.
While it is possible to simply start using a new name without taking any further action, the statutory name change procedures are intended “to insure that a permanent record is made of the name change.” Burke v. Hammonds, 586 S.W. 2d 307 (Ky. Ct. App. 1979). The legal, public, and private entities that one would want to know of and use the new name generally require a permanent, legal record of name change which only occurs after the Petition for Name Change is granted by the reviewing Court.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Which of a person’s names may be changed (first, middle, last)?
- The relevant Kentucky statutes on change of name do not specify a limit on how a name may be changed. Therefore, any name(s) may be changed. In the Petition, the desired name change must be specified in full. KRS 401.030.
- Which court reviews name change petitions?
- The District Court of the county in which the person whose name is sought to be changed resides. KRS 401.010 & KRS 401.020.
- What other legal entities must be informed of a granted name change?
- The local County Clerk’s office must receive the Order for recording in all cases. KRS 401.040(1). Depending on your particulars, there are other statutory requirements as well.Should you use our firm to apply for a name change, we will provide you with a list of other entities to inform after the Judge-signed Order for Name Change is received.
- Who may have their name changed?
- There are two basic categories of name changes that may be made: 1. Name change for self if a legal adult (18 or over). KRS 401.010. 2. Name change for minor child (17 or under) by parent(s) or guardian. KRS 401.020.
- Will my name be changed after submitting a Petition for Name Change?
- A petition is a legal request brought to the Court and as such there is no guarantee that it will be approved by the reviewing Judge. There are, however, certain petitions that certainly will not be granted for failure to meet the statutory requirements. These include: • A 16 or 17-year-old, for self, even if he or she does not live with either parent. • Husband, for wife, during a divorce or an invalidity of marriage proceeding but before the final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage or Decree of Invalidity of Marriage is made.Part of an attorney’s role is to review the client’s information and submit legal documentation that will give the client the best chance to accomplish the desired goal. Our thorough review is part of the overall name change service we provide. Please see “Legal Services Offered and Cost” below for a link to submit initial information for our review.
- If I am a divorcing wife, do I have to file a Petition for Name Change to have my name changed following a divorce?
- No, the wife may request that the Court restore her maiden or a former name within the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (or other divorce pleadings). The Court may then change her name upon entry of the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. KRS 403.230(2).
- If I am a wife going through a legal separation, do I have to file a Petition for Name Change to have my name changed following the legal separation?
- Yes, there is no Kentucky statutory provision that allows the Decree of Legal Separation to restore a wife’s maiden or former name.
- If I am in the process of adopting a child, do I have to file a Petition for Name Change for that child following the adoption?
- No, the parents may include the child’s desired new name in the Petition for Adoption of Child and the Court may change the child’s name upon entry of the Judgment of Adoption. KRS 199.520(1).
Legal Services Offered and Cost
Name Change for Self
Legal fees: $250 flat fee
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Name Change for Child
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