NC: Name Change

Name Change During Marriage

You will need a certified copy of your marriage certificate to get your name changed after you are married. After ten (10) days of marriage, you can obtain a certified copy of the marriage certificate from the Registrar of Deeds in your county of residence. You will show proof of your marriage using the certified copy of your marriage certificate at the DMV and Social Security office to change your name on your license and Social Security card.

Name Change During Divorce

Males and females have different options for changing their names after divorce. Females may reclaim their maiden name, last name of a previous spouse who is deceased, or the last name of a previous spouse who is still living if she has children with the last name. Males who changed their name for their marriage may change their last name back to their last name from before marriage. Your last name may be changed during the process of obtaining an absolute divorce by petitioning the court, or after you have received your judgment of divorce by applying for a name change through the clerk of court.

To change your last name during the divorce process, the judge must list your requested name change on the final divorce decree. The final divorce decree will provide proof that you are legally able to change your name.  If your divorce decree does not indicate your name change, you must petition the court through a legal name change.

Legal Name Change

A legal name change occurs outside of a marriage or divorce setting. You must petition the court to achieve your requested name change by filing an application before the clerk of the superior court of the county in which you live, after giving 10 days’ notice of the application by publication at the courthouse door. To complete this application, you will need to obtain fingerprints at the sheriff’s department, a criminal record check at the State Bureau of Investigation (“SBI”) and a criminal record check from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”). A legal name change is the only way to change your first name, and the process can take a few months to ensure correct filing and proper service. Couples who are choosing a different last name than their current names will need to go through the process of a legal name change. Minor children must go through a legal name change with a focus on a significant reason for the name change.

Name Change of Minor Child

You must petition the court with your name change request for your minor child. This process requires the parent or guardian to file a petition for name change (minor) and an affidavit of parental consent. Changing a minor’s name can take a few months and requires proper notice to relevant parties or notice by publication. You must provide a significant reason for the name change request. After the parent or guardian submits the reason for the name change, the other parent or guardian must provide approval for the change. All living parents listed on the birth certificate of the child must provide permission for the name change. If the other parent or guardian is deceased, a death certificate is necessary for proof. If the other parent cannot be found to complete an affidavit of parental consent, the name change will be denied. The other parent or guardian has the right to object to the name change. If there is an objection, there will usually be a hearing on the matter before a judge.

If the minor child has only one parent or guardian with custodial rights or the child can demonstrate that he or she has been abandoned by one of his or her parents or guardians, then the minor child can achieve a name change by petitioning for the requested name change with the consent of the parent or guardian who has custody.