Do I have to Follow the New Jersey Name Change Publication Requirement?

Do I have to Follow the New Jersey Name Change Publication Requirement?Occasionally, the New Jersey name change attorneys at Katherine O’Brien Law are asked by clients whether or not they must follow the New Jersey name change publication requirement, or whether they can have that requirement waived.  The answer to this question is, yes, it is possible to have the name change publication requirement waived and/or relaxed.  However, whether or not the court will relax the publication requirement in your specific case will depend on the reasons why you would like to avoid the name change publication requirement.

Ordinarily, the formal New Jersey name change process requires petitioner to publish notice of their name change in a newspaper of general circulation twice – once before the hearing takes place and then once again after the hearing.  See New Jersey Rules of Court R. 4:72-3 (“Notice of application shall then be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county of plaintiff’s residence once, at least two weeks preceding the date of the hearing.”); and R. 4:72-4 (“Within 20 days after entry of judgment, a copy thereof, from which plaintiff’s social security number shall be redacted, shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county of plaintiff’s residence . . .”).

The name change publication requirement is intended to put creditors or other interested parties on notice of the new name as it is unlawful for an individual to change their name for the purpose of avoiding creditors, to avoid criminal prosecution, or for fraudulent reasons.  Moreover, in addition to requiring these two publications, the court records of a name change are not sealed.  Instead, they are open, public records.

In The Application of EFG to Assume a New Name, however, the petitioner was a long-term victim of domestic violence who wanted to begin a new life of safety away from her abuser. Court records, police records and the petitioner’s medical records all demonstrated that the petitioner’s abuser had subjected her to life threatening violence and that there was a significant risk that he would cause additional harm in the future.  In order to prevent her abuser from obtaining her new name and address, the petitioner asked that she not be required to follow the usual publication requirement and that the record of her application be sealed.  After reviewing the petitioner’s certification and documentation, The New Jersey Appellate Division held that, under the circumstances, the victim’s right to protect herself and her identity justified waiving the publication requirement and sealing the records.  The court explained that, when faced with such a request, a judge must undertake an analysis of the facts.  If an applicant can demonstrate a “compelling interest,” the petitioner’s application for a name change shall be approved dispensing with the requirement of publication and sealing the record. Thus, if you would like the court to dispense with the formal name change publication requirement and seal your application for a name change, you must be able to demonstrate good reason for doing so.

New Jersey Name Change Lawyers

If you have any questions about the New Jersey name change publication requirement, contact the experienced name change lawyers at Katherine O’Brien Law today for a free consultation at 856-832-2482.

Katherine O'Brien

New Jersey expungement lawyer Katherine North O’Brien has been practicing expungement law for her entire career and has handled hundreds of complex criminal record expungements. She has also assisted in the drafting of briefs on expungement issues before the New Jersey Supreme Court. Katherine is passionate about helping people clean their criminal records and, therefore, started Katherine O’Brien Law to offer those with criminal convictions a fresh start.