How To Do A Name Change in South Carolina
There are many reasons why people want to change their name. Many people change their last name when they get married. Others want to change their last name after a divorce. And, some people want to change their name to fit their gender identity.
If you get married and want to change your name, then it’s a pretty simple procedure. You simply take a certified copy of your marriage license to your local Social Security office. Once you receive your new Social Security card, you can then:
- Change your name on your driver’s license and other ID documents
- Update your voter’s registration
- Change your name on your bank and investment accounts
- Change your name on university transcripts, degrees, and professional licenses
There’s no need to involve a lawyer or the court when you change your last name after a marriage.
This article discusses when you need to go to court to change your name.
Name Change During a Divorce
Often, women want to return to using their maiden name after a divorce. You can do this as part of the divorce case. A spouse that wants to use a prior last name can ask the court to restore their last name in the divorce complaint. The judge grants the request if certain criteria are met. Judges wants to make sure a person is not changing their name for fraudulent purposes. Because of this, the judge needs to know certain information:
- Whether you’re currently in bankruptcy
- If you’re on any sex offender registries
- Whether you have a criminal record
- If you’re currently paying child support or alimony, and if you are in arrears
- Whether you’re on any abuse or neglect registries
Name Change Not Through Divorce
People choose to change their name for a variety of purposes. If someone has gone by their middle name their entire life, they may choose to change their middle name to their first name.
Some choose to resume their maiden name after the judge already granted a divorce.
In the transgender community, changing a name to match a gender identity is an important milestone.
In these cases, South Carolina insists that residents change their name through the court. You have to file a petition through the court. Then, the judge has a hearing on the matter. The hearing is usually very brief and not something to stress over. It’s a formality for the judge to ensure that the paperwork is in order. The judge also checks to make sure there is no fraudulent purpose behind changing the name. If everything checks out, the judge signs the order that changes your name.
You Need Certain Documents to Change Your Name
There are certain documents you’ll need to file your petition. In addition to the petition itself, you’ll also need to include the following:
- a SLED name change packet, which you can obtain from the Clerk of Court. SLED will conduct a background check and process fingerprints. SLED will also return a report stating whether or not you are a registered sex offender
- Report from the Department of Social Services stating that you are not on the Central Registry of Child Abuse or Neglect. You can request this report by filing a DSS Form 3072 with DSS
- a certified copy of your birth certificate
- an affidavit stating whether you are paying court-ordered child support, and whether you are current on your obligations, or stating your arears
How Do I Change My Child’s Name in SC?
Changing a child’s name in South Carolina is more complicated than changing an adult’s name. For example, if a mother wants to change her child’s last name to be the same as hers, the child’s father has a say, too. The other parent must be served with the petition and given the opportunity to object. Then, the judge must appoint a Guardian ad Litem to determine whether the changing the child’s name is in the best interests of the child.
How Long Does It Take To Change My Name in SC?
For an adult who isn’t resuming a maiden name as part of a divorce, the process doesn’t take very long. It takes a couple weeks to get the required documents back from DSS and SLED. Then, you can file the petition. Once the petition is filed, the clerk will assign a final hearing date. Each court manages their calendar differently. The wait may be longer in some courts than others. Changing an adult’s name usually take 2 or 3 months
For a minor child, it can take a bit longer because of the need to have a GAL appointed and do an investigation. Some name changes for minors can be quite complex and require additional witnesses. This is especially true for transgender children.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
The procedure for changing a child’s name is complex. When changing a child’s name through the court, it’s very difficult for someone to correctly meet all the legal requirements without hiring a lawyer. The Maron Law Group can help you change your child’s last name at a lower cost by offering a flat fee for a filing a petition to change your child’s name.
For adults, it’s possible to do the process yourself with the correct forms. But, if there are any oddities in the situation, it’s usually best to consult a lawyer. Also, a lawyer can ensure that everything is filed correctly the first time, which can save a lot of time and headaches later on.
How much does it cost to change a name?
For an adult, changing a name involves a $150 filing fee with the court for the petition. For most situations, the Maron Law Group charges a reasonable flat rate. We also can assist you with the petition and putting the documents in order for an even lower rate. There are also fees associated with the SLED and DSS reports.
For a minor child, the same $150 filing fee applies. GAL fees also come into play. If the case is straightforward, many GALs will charge a reasonable flat rate. Just like with adult name changes, we typically charge a flat rate for minors as well.
The Maron Law Group accepts name change cases across the entire state of South Carolina. Contact us today at (843) 998-0644 for a free consultation.