What do Miley CyrusJohn Legend, and Marilyn Monroe have in common?


They all legally changed their name! 

This week, I'm going to teach you how to do something practical: change your name and/or gender marker.

Changing your name or gender marker is an easy DIY process!  If you want guidance, of course, I can help, but out of all the things that you can do legally, this is a pretty easy one.  You can change your name anytime you want to; you can change your name when you get married or you can do that when you get divorced!  It's even possible to change your child's name!


Let's start with adults.


Prepare what's called a petition:

1. Stating you are 18 years or older;
2. Disclosing any criminal offenses (felonies or misdemeanors); and

[If you have been convicted of a felony, it must be two years after the END of that sentence.]

3. Attaching a fingerprint card.

You've got to put that all together and file a petition in a court in the county that you live in.  There are some requirements for how long you must be in Texas and be living in that county, but the county that you live in is the place you're going to file the petition (e.g., for El Paso, it’s 6 months in Texas and 90 days in El Paso County).  When you file the petition, you must pay a filing fee.

You can also file a dual petition for name change and gender marker change.  That means you can ask the court to change both identifiers on the same petition and pay one filing fee.


You either pay your filing fees, which are a little over $300, or you can file what's called an Affidavit of Indigency or Statement of Inability to Pay, in which you state that you can't pay your filing fees.  If the court accepts that document, fees are waived.


Most courts have sample petitioners and affidavits online.

What's next?

Several weeks or months after you file the petition, you go in front of a judge for an uncontested hearing.  At the hearing, you tell the judge why you want a name change, why it's in your best interest, and the judge will most likely grant it, simple as that!


Pro Tip:

Take copies upon copies of orders for the judge to sign; take at least THREE copies of the order that you prepare.  You use those original orders to take to DPS (you have 30 days to do that).  If you're changing your birth certificate, if you're changing your driver's license, if you're changing your Social Security Card, those will require original orders.  COVID times are a little weird, so the different organizations may accept copies, but call first!


Prepare a petition:

1. Stating you are 18 years or older;
2. Disclosing any criminal offenses (felonies or misdemeanors); 

[If you have been convicted of a felony, it must be two years after the END of that sentence.]

3. Attaching a fingerprint card; and
4. Attaching a letter in narrative from your doctor or therapist showing: 

a) a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, 

b) the fact that you're getting treatment for that diagnosis, and 

c) that it's in your best interest to change your gender marker to better represent your


Same story, keep that original order!  Note: you can only change between male and female genders in Texas.  Unfortunately, Texas doesn't recognize any non-binary genders, so you can't change it to something other than male or female. 


If you're getting divorced, you don't need to go through that long process.  Instead, you can ask the court during the divorce to give you a legal name change and you can use divorce decree as your proof, so long as there’s a provision in the decree granting a name change.


If you get married, your name change is not automatic either, so you have to go through the process of submitting your marriage certificate to get your name change with DPS.



This situation comes up when people divorce or they don't want the kid to take baby daddy's name, or one ex really wants to stick it to their ex-spouse and change all the names of the kids. Well, not so fast señorita!  You either need consent or the other parent must know.

It blows my mind how often people try to use the kids against each other.  GROW UP!!


Now, sometimes the parents agree to a name change.  Let's say both parents consent and you want to change your kiddos name.  Wait!  Not so fast!  If they're over 10, they must consent to the name change as well.  So, both parties consent as parents or legal guardians (in some cases) and the kid consents if over 10, what’s next?  You file the petition, prove consent at the hearing, and get a court order.

What if a parent doesn't agree or you can't get consent?  Then, you must file that petition, set a hearing and serve the other party.  Anybody that's a legal guardian has 20 days to answer after being served with the petition and notice of a hearing.  If they answer and say, "I don't want my kiddo’s name changed," then you're going to have a contested hearing in front of a court. 


Pro Tip:


You’re not going to get your kid’s name changed if you’re being petty after a divorce or break up.  The name change must be in the best interest of the child!

What happens if the other parent's rights are terminated?  You can still change that name, you just need to include the termination order as part of your petition.  Same thing if the other parent had passed away, for example, then that would be something you would indicate and attach a certified copy of the death certificate.

What if you don't know who baby daddy is?  You will have to PUBLICLY post service.  It’s called “service by publication” and it must happen.  If no one comes forward to contest the name change, you should be good to go.

If you have any questions, email me or call the office and I’m happy to assist!