How Can You Change Your Name as a Transgender Person?
Once you’ve identified as transgender, the next logical thing is to change your name. Your name is a big part of your identity. It’s important that you be able to identify the way you want. Thankfully, the process to legally change your name in Texas is not that complicated.
Although the process itself isn’t all that difficult, if you miss one step, your entire petition can be dismissed. If this happens, you’ll have to file a whole new petition. Each time you have to start over, you have to pay new filing fees. It also can delay the process by months.
If you want to do it right the first time, you’re better off using a Houston family law attorney. They understand the legal requirements, have experience with name changes, and know the ins and outs of the court system. They will make sure your petition is handled properly the first time around.
If you’re transgender and ready to change your name, it’s time to call a family law attorney in Houston, Texas.
What is the Legal Process to Change Your Name?
The process to change your name is Texas is similar to that in most other states. You have to file an actual case with the court. Changing your name is treated like any other legal petition. It has to be reviewed and approved by a family law judge.
In order to legally change your name in Texas, you have to take the following steps:
- Complete your fingerprints
- Get a criminal and financial background check done
- Fill out the necessary court forms
- File your name change petition and pay the necessary filing fee
- Attend your hearing
- If approved, get a signed order
- Record the order with vital statistics (i.e. Social Security Administration)
At any point in this process, you can make a mistake. This is why it’s smart to have an experienced family law attorney file your petition for you.
Why Do You Need to Complete Background Checks?
In order to apply for a name change, you need to get two separate background checks done. One is a criminal background check. The other is a financial background check. The court requires these background checks for a very important reason.
A lot of people try to change their names in order to avoid legal action. If there are pending criminal charges against you, the court isn’t going to let you change your name. It’s hard enough for the courts to track defendants down when they don’t change their names. They aren’t going to let you make it even harder.
As for the financial background check, the same theory applies. If there are people who have filed (or intend to file) a civil case against you, you can’t change your name. In fact, if your background check shows that you are delinquent or in default on any loans, your request may be denied.
The court has an obligation to protect creditors. If you owe a bank a ton of money, it wouldn’t be fair for you to change your name and dodge your debts. The judge may give you a chance to pay off any delinquent accounts. But if there’s actual civil litigation pending against you, the judge isn’t going to approve a name change.
What do You Have to Do Once the Name Change is Approved?
Most people have to attend a hearing in order to complete the name change process. Unless you can somehow get this waived by the court, you’ll have to appear in person.
The judge will ask you why you want to change your name. You’ll also have to answer a few questions on the record. Based on your answers, the judge will either approve or deny your petition.
If your petition is denied, you can always file again later. For example, if the request is denied because of pending criminal charges, you can wait for these charged to be cleared up. Then re-file your petition. Your family law attorney in Houston can even request that the judge offer a conditional approval. If the condition is that you clear up the pending charges, the name change can be approved once that is completed.
Once your name change is approved, make sure you notify the following people of your new legal name:
- Social Security
- Mortgage company
- Tax assessor
- Local authorities if you have outstanding tax liens or fines
- Insurance companies
If you have any questions, you can call and speak with a Houston family law attorney today.
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