Your name is an important part of your identity. It gives others information about your background and your gender identity. For many transgender people, the legal name change process can be empowering, yet complex.
In New York, you can start using a new name without going to court. However, third parties (such as the DMV, the Social Security Administration, and others), will look for a court order. One way of changing a name is through marriage or divorce. This involves listing the new name on the marriage license or a divorce decree.
Changing a name for any other reason involves going to court. In asking the court for a name change, the applicant must file certain documents. The court will review the documents and grant a name change where there is no evidence of fraud or criminal intent behind the change. This process can be done by an applicant themselves, or with the help of an attorney. Hiring an attorney can be helpful to help walk through the steps of the court proceeding.
Once a court grants a name change application, the applicant must notify third parties. This can be a complicated process. For more information about what steps to take after a name change, see the attached guide, “Instructions for Notification of Name Change.”
The Center for Elder Law & Justice can help LGBTQ+ people age 50 years and up file name change petitions, for free. Contact Christopher Phillips, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (716) 853-3087, ext. 283 to discuss this program in more detail.Post Name Change Instructions - FINAL