NJ Name Change FAQ’s
Do I need a New Jersey name change attorney?
There is no requirement that you retain an attorney to assist you during the name change process in New Jersey. However, as can be seen, the name change procedure in New Jersey is technically demanding, especially for those who do not have a legal background. Moreover, if the requirements are not followed each step of the way, whether due to incomplete information being provided in the petition and/or due to improper service of the petition or publication or filing errors, the court will deny your name change application.
The name change process in New Jersey is a bureaucratic and paper-intensive process. Obtaining a New Jersey name change attorney to help with the legal name change process can have several benefits, including faster processing time, less time and effort spent on the process, and a greater ease of mind and chance of success.
What is the cost for a New Jersey name change?
Currently, the New Jersey Superior Court filing fee for a legal name change is $250.00. In addition, you will have to publish notification of the name change in a newspaper of general circulation (or whichever newspaper the courts orders that you to publish the notification in) both before and after the hearing. Newspaper publication fees can be as high as several hundred dollars. Moreover, you will need to serve the Petition and Order on various governmental agencies via certified mail, costing an additional approximately $8.00 per mailing.
At the Law Office of Katherine O’Brien, we handle name change petitions on a flat fee basis. For uncontested name changes (meaning there is no objection) we charge a fixed fee of $1,695.00 to handle your name change in a professional and timely manner.
How long will the name change take?
Legal name changes in New Jersey currently take between 60 to 90 days, on average.
Will a court appearance be necessary?
Maybe. Depending on the court and/or judge assigned to handle your case, a court appearance may or may not be necessary. If a court appearance is necessary, we will prepare you for the appearance and appear with you at the hearing and answer various questions from the court on your behalf.
If I was born in New York but have since moved to New Jersey, in which state should I file for a name change?
You must file for a name change in the state within which you currently reside. Thus, even if you were born in New York, and your birth certificate was issued in that state, you would have to apply for a legal name change in New Jersey, where you currently live.
I only want to change the spelling of my first name. Do I still need a legal name change?
Yes. You must file for a formal legal name change if you are making any changes at all to your first name, middle name, or last name and/or any combination. This includes making only minor changes to the spelling of your first, middle, and last name.
Do I need to go through the formal name change procedure if I am only correcting my name?
If you are only correcting your name and you were born in New Jersey, you may not need to go through the formal legal name change process. Requests for corrections of vital records must be supported by verifiable documentation. In addition, requests for corrects will vary depending upon the type of correction being filed. We recommend that you contact the New Jersey Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistic in New Jersey regarding the correction. Click here for information regarding correcting vital records through the Office of Vital Statistics.
Do I need to go through the formal legal name change procedure if I recently married or divorced?
No. A formal legal court ordered name change should not be necessary if your change is name is the result of a marriage or a divorce. Instead, your name should be changed as a part of the judgment during that case or proceeding. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-1, when undergoing a divorce or the dissolution of a civil union, either spouse can resume the use of their prior surname or any other surname. For more information, please see our blog post on Name Changes After Divorce in New Jersey.
Is a formal court-ordered name change proceeding necessary in adoption proceedings or paternity actions?
No. A formal legal court ordered name change should not be necessary if the name change is connected with an adoption action or a paternity action. Rather, your name should be changed in connection with that action.
Is the process different for minor name changes?
Yes. In the case of a child under the age of 18 requesting a name change, both biological parents must consent to the name change. If you are unable to locate one of the biological parents, notice of the name change application must be served by upon a non-party parent at their last known address. If the non-party parent objects to the name change, the name change application will turn into a contested proceeding, with the best interests of the child standard governing whether the application will be granted.
Often times, either the child of divorced parents or minor’s mother wants the child adopt the stepfather’s last name. So long as the biological father does not object to the name change, the application will usually be granted. However, if the biological father does object, the name change will be considered a contested name change. The court will order that the bests interests of the child should determine whether the name change will be granted. If the biological father has maintained a relationship with the child, the court might not grant the name change using this standard.
Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to be eligible for a name change?
No. The New Jersey name change statute permits application by “any person” and does not limit relief to United States citizens. As the court noted in Raubar v. Raubar, 315 N.J. Super. 353, 362 (Ch. Div. 1998), this language has remained unchanged since the statute was adopted in 1877.
Thus, New Jersey’s name change statute applies to permanent residents as well as U.S. citizens. See Application of Pirlamarla, 208 N.J. Super. 112 (Law Div. 1985). Federal law, however, does require a permanent resident alien to report a name change to the Department of Homeland Security. Thus, to in order to ensure consistency with federal immigration policy, any name change orders in these cases should require the petitioner to notify federal immigration authorities of the name change as pursuant to federal law. See Pirlamarla, supra, 208 N.J. Super. at 117-18. For more information on this, read our blog post on Immigrant Name Changes in New Jersey.
I am changing my name out of concern for my safety. Do the publication requirements still apply?
No. The publication requirement may be waived and your name change application may be sealed (made not available to the public) if we can demonstrate a well-founded concern for your personal safety should that information be made publically available. This is often the case for victims of domestic violence. See In re E.F.G., 398 N.J. Super. 539 (App. Div. 2008). For more information on this, please see our blog post regarding Whether You Must Following the New Jersey Name Change Publication Requirement.
If you have any additional questions about New Jersey name changes, schedule a free consultation.