Change of Name Without Any Legal Proceedings:
- At common law it is possible to assume another name as long as there is no fraudulent reason for doing so. Florida law does not prohibit someone from using a different name than the one they were given at birth. There are restrictions on the use of fictitious names, however.
- A woman’s name is changed by marriage and the marriage itself will serve to change her name on government records. There is no requirement for a court proceeding. A woman cannot be compelled to adopt her husband’s surname but if she does, she can keep that name for as long as she wishes, even after the marriage has ended by death, dissolution or annulment. She cannot be compelled to adopt her maiden name after the marriage ends. Also, she can change her name back to her maiden name after the marriage if she wants.
- The name of a child born out of wedlock may be changed if the mother and father later marry and they both request a change and there is no father’s name on the birth certificate. The name of a child can also be changed if both mother and father sign an affidavit acknowledging their paternity. Or, the father can sign an affidavit voluntarily acknowledging his paternity. This will also result in a change of name for the child. If the father’s name is listed on the birth certificate, however, both mother and father must resort to legal proceedings to change the name of the child and to change the name on the birth certificate.
Change of name as a result of legal proceedings:
Name changes can occur as a result of legal proceedings such as adoption, dissolution of marriage, annulment or establishment of paternity. In these cases, the name change is a part of the legal proceeding and no separate proceeding is required.
Change of name through formal proceedings:
F.S. 68.07 sets out the procedure for a formal change of name. Generally this can be done if there is no illegal or fraudulent motive. A petition is filed along with a set of fingerprints of the person requesting the name change. The petition must allege the reason for the request and show the court that there is no fraudulent motive for the name change. The petition must contain detailed information about the petitioner’s credit history and criminal records, if any.
Note: This article discusses name changes through legal proceedings in a family law context and does not cover corporate names, fictitious names or professional names. These are all governed by separate statutes.