The attorneys at Finklea Law Firm receive calls on a regular basis from men and women seeking advice and guidance for legal name changes. While the individual reasons for someone wanting to legally change his or her name vary from person to person, the process by which it is accomplished is the same.
If you are seeking a court order legally changing your name, you should contact an attorney who will submit, on your behalf, a petition in writing that specifically includes your reason(s) for requesting a name change, your age at the time of the request, your current place of residence, your place of birth, and the new name you wish to assume for future use. The requirements are set forth in South Carolina Code Section 15-49-10.
Additionally, South Carolina Code Section 15-49-20 sets forth the specific documentation that must be attached to your petition for a name change. Specifically, your attorney will perform on your behalf the following steps that will be required for a judge to consider your request:
Request a name change kit from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) that will contain information about ordering a background check and how to get your fingerprints done;
You will be required to visit your local law enforcement agency to get fingerprinted on a specific card provided by SLED. Upon being fingerprinted and filling out the background check form, we will forward the information to SLED with the required fee and they will issue you a certified background check;
You will need to obtain a verification from SLED that you are not listed on the sex offender registry;
You will be required to obtain a verification from the South Carolina Department of Social Services indicating that you are not listed on the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect; and
A signed affidavit by you, the petitioner requesting a name change, stating whether you are under a court order to pay child support or alimony.
Once this documentation has been received, it is attached to your petition and filed with the court. Your attorney will then request a hearing where you will be required to appear before a Family Court Judge and provide brief testimony as to the reasons for the requested name change. Your attorney should review with you the questions that will be asked of you in court so that you will not be surprised or caught off guard by the specific inquiries. After hearing the testimony, and assuming there are no complications, the judge will sign the order granting you a name change.
~ Joshua A. Bailey (August 2013)