Indiana residents who wish to change their name as an adult likely have many questions about the name change process, which can be daunting. Indiana law does not require a court order for a name change. A person over 18 years old can change their name by simply starting to use their new, desired name.
Obtaining a court order legally changing your name may still be helpful, to make the process of updating your name easier. Unfortunately, you may encounter difficulties from your employer, creditors, government agencies or other organizations when trying to update your name without a court order. Some may even refuse to acknowledge the change.
The name change process
The Indiana name change process involves several steps and requirements to make sure the name change is legally allowable. The first step is filing a name change petition with the court in the county that you live. Once the court receives your petition, they will schedule a hearing to officially change your name. The hearing is typically held about 30 days after you file your petition.
After your petition is filed, you must publish a notice of your name change in a local newspaper for 3 weeks. There is no specific requirement for which newspaper must be used, but it is best to use your county’s most widely published newspaper. The purpose of publishing the notice is to put the public on notice that you are going to change your name.
At the hearing, you must present evidence that the notice was published for the required 3-week period. Once that is presented, the court must grant your name change. You are not legally required to tell the court why you are changing your name, but some judges may ask anyway, so be ready to give a brief reason.
When you cannot change your name
You may not legally change your name in certain circumstances. If you are in prison, or trying to elude creditors or a criminal charge, you cannot change your name. Even if you do not have any open criminal charges, you may be required to take additional steps if you were convicted of a felony within the last 10 years, such as notifying the local district attorney and Sheriff’s Office.
Although the name change process should be simple, challenges can arise. The guidance of a professional may help.