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How to Change Your Name in NC After Marriage, Divorce & More

How to Change Your Name in NC After Marriage, Divorce & More

April 02, 2024 A.T. Debnam

This article reviews the process of changing your name after life events such as marriage and divorce and the process of changing your name for other reasons such as a person disliking their name, maybe for religious reasons, couples combining surnames to form a new one or gender identity issues.

What are the Common Reasons for Changing Your Name?

The most common reasons people change their name are due to marriage, divorce or death of a spouse. However, there are many other reasons people want to change their name such as they simply do not like their name; their name is difficult to pronounce; their name is too common or their name is too well known (i.e., celebrity); same sex partners sharing surname; couples combining surnames into one and issues related to gender identity.

What are the Required Steps for Changing Your Name

After a person is married, all they need is a certified copy of his/her marriage license to legally change his/her name on things such as driver’s license, social security card and passport. It is best to wait at least ten (10) days after the ceremony to ensure the marriage license has been returned to the county Register of Deeds office.

When getting a divorce, a woman (or man) may apply to the clerk in the county he/she resides to change his/her name.

At the time of divorce, a woman may change her name to her maiden name; the last name (surname) of a prior deceased husband or the last name (surname) of a prior living husband if she has children who have that husband’s last name.   If a man changed his name after marriage and is now getting divorced, he may change his name back to the last name (surname) he had before marriage.

The easiest way to accomplish a name change during divorce is to include a request for the change in the complaint for absolute divorce if you are the one filing for divorce.  If your spouse is the one who filed the complaint for divorce, then you will need to assert a counterclaim for divorce and request that you be allowed to change your name as described above.  The new name will be incorporated in the divorce judgment. If an attorney is handling the divorce for you make sure to tell your attorney that you want to resume use of your former name.

A person can still resume his/her former name after a divorce is entered by completing an Application/Notice for Resumption of Former Name and submitting it to the clerk of court in the county in which he/she resides.  This form can also be used in the event of the death of a spouse. This form can be found at: Application/Notice for Resumption of Former

The first step in the process is to have a Notice of Intent to Change clocked in by a civil clerk in your county and posted on the Superior Court’s office bulletin board for ten (10) consecutive days.  If the tenth (10th) day is on a weekend you must keep it posted until the next business day.

After your notice is posted for the required ten (10) days then you must complete and submit to the court the following documents:

  • Application for Name Change (must be notarized)
  • Two Affidavits of Good Character Signed by County Residents
  • FBI and State Bureau of Investigation Records Checks
  • Fingerprints

Applicants can visit the FBI and the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation websites for information on how to obtain a background check and/or fingerprinting. 

Applicants will also need to be prepared to provide a birth certificate to the clerk of court when submitting the above documents. Please note that the clerk may ask for any additional information they determine to be necessary to completely review the name change application.

Once the documents are completed and submitted to the court, the clerk of court will determine whether there is good and sufficient reason to grant or deny the name change. If the clerk finds good and sufficient reasons have been presented for the change of a name, the clerk will issue an order changing the applicant’s name from the person’s true name to the name sought to be adopted. The clerk will issue a certificate documenting the name change and record the order on the special proceedings docket.

The clerk is responsible for forwarding the name change order to the state Vital Statistics office.  If the person changing his/her name was not born in the state of North Carolina, the North Carolina vital statistics office will forward to the vital statistics office in the person’s state of birth.  The clerk will also forward a copy of the order to the Department of Public Safety.

Requests to change a minor child’s name can be made by the child’s parents, guardians, or guardian ad litem. Changing a minor’s name requires the consent of both parents (if living) except under certain circumstances set forth in North Carolina General Statutes §101-2(d)(1-3).

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What Documents Must You Update/What Agencies to Notify When Changing Your Name

  • Driver’s License
  • Social Security Card
  • Passport
  • Veteran’s Benefits
  • Postal Service
  • State Benefits
  • Voter Registration
  • Update Bank Accounts/Financial Accounts
  • Request Credit Cards with a new name

Common FAQs About Changing Your Name

The fee for filing an adult name change application is $120.00.

The fee for filing an application for resumption of former name is $10.00.

Forms required for a name change can be found on the North Carolina Judicial Branch website:

Yes, a clerk can deny a name change if the clerk finds that there are good and sufficient reasons to deny the applicant’s request.  A registered sex offender is prohibited from changing his/her name.

If doing an adult name change, you are only allowed to change your name once except you can resume your former name.  Minor child name changes cannot be changed more than two times.

Navigating the name change process can feel daunting and overwhelming.   The experienced Divorce & Family Law attorneys at Smith Debnam can help.

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