Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Name Change

For some, the saying, “New year, new me” means a fresh start that includes changing a legal name. A person who is not changing his or her name due to marriage has the right to do so in Florida so long as certain requirements are met.

A person requesting a name change must file a petition for name change and pay a filing fee to the clerk of courts. In order for a court to grant a name change petition, the court must be satisfied that the person seeking the name change is not doing so for an illegal or ulterior motive, or to avoid creditors. The person must also show that his or her civil rights have never been suspended, or if they have, that they have been restored.

If a person shows all of this, it is rare for a court to deny a petition for a name change, and if it does, it must make factual findings in its order as illustrated in the recent appellate case In re Johnson, 4D18-695 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018). In this case, the petitioner sought a name change, but the same was denied despite his facially sufficient petition. The court did not make factual findings in its order but the appellate court gleaned from the order that the petition was denied because of the trial court’s belief that the name change was being sought for an ulterior or illegal purpose. The trial court also inexplicably denied the petitioner’s request for a court reporter to record the proceedings.

On appeal, the trial court’s decision was overturned. The appellate court ruled the trial court was required to make factual findings as to its decision to deny the petition and cited Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.535(b) for the holding that a proceeding shall be recorded on the request of any party.

Note that name changes can be completed as part of other family law cases such as Florida divorce or paternity proceedings. Schedule a consultation with a Miami family law attorney to determine if you can proceed with your name change request.