In order to get a legal name change for a minor in New York, you will need to get a court order approving the name change. There are five steps:
- File a Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI) and a Petition for Change of Name
- File the signed Order for Change of Name
- Publish notification in a local newspaper
- File an Affidavit of Publication
- Change the minor’s name with government agencies like the Social Security Office and the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Legal Documents to Complete
If you do not live in New York City, print and file a Name Change Petition, Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI), Index Number Request, and Order with the clerk of the Supreme Court for the county where the minor lives. You will need the following documents:
- A blank copy of a Petition: www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/civil/forms/NameChangeMinor.pdf
- A blank copy of the RJI: www.iapps.courts.state.ny.us/fbem/forms/RJI.pdf
- Consent Form: www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/civil/forms/NameChangeConsent.pdf
- A blank copy of the Order: www.courts.state.ny.us/forms/ncorder.pdf
- Certified Birth Certificate
Note: If you don't have a certified birth certificate, you can use Rocket Lawyer's Birth Certificate Request Letter.
A parent or legal guardian must file the Petition. Fill out the Petition and the top section of the Order by hand, in black ink. The parent or guardian is the petitioner. If you are outside the city of New York, change the heading to reflect the number of the Superior Court for your county. When you fill out the form, you are the petitioner and the clerk of court will tell you your court number and assign you a case number when you file the Petition and Order at the court house. You will also need to change the Order to reflect the name change of a minor. Fill in the heading and the first line with your name, but the remainder of the document will apply to the minor.
If filing outside the city of New York, complete the RJI: fill in the top two blanks with “Supreme Court” and your residence county. You are the Plaintiff. Write in your name under “Plaintiff.” There is no defendant; you may write none or leave it blank. The “Nature of Judicial Intervention” will be other: (specify: Legal Name Change Hearing). For “Nature of Action or Proceeding,” check other: and write in Legal Name Change For a Minor. Check all boxes “no” for the next section. Your “Time Frame” should be checked 0-8 months. Leave the next section blank. Under “Attorneys for Plaintiff,” put an X next to “self rep” and fill in your name, address and phone number. Leave the “Defendants” and “Insurance Carriers” section blank. Write none for “Related Cases.” Sign and date the bottom. If you have questions regarding the RJI, the Clerk of Court should be able to answer them at the time of filing.
In addition to the Petition, Order, and RJI, parents or legal guardians not filing the Petition and minors over the age of 14 need to fill out a Consent form. Each parent or legal guardian that does not sign the Petition will need to fill out their own Consent and attach it to the Petition. If the minor eligible for the name change is over the age of 14, they must also fill out their own consent form. The Consent form provided is for minors.
Note: There are additional notification steps you must follow if you want to change the name of your child without the other parent’s approval or if you are the child’s guardian and the parents do not consent.
File the Forms
Once you have all documents filled out, go to your local county courthouse with your documents, including a certified copy of the minor’s birth certificate, and at least one copy of each, and file them with the Clerk of Court in the county where you reside. You should fill in your case number on the Petition, RJI, and Order and have the Clerk review the RJI to ensure that it is complete. Request a stamped copy from the Clerk. There will be a fee to file the paperwork. If you cannot afford the fee, the Clerk can provide you with an application to file for free.
The Judge’s Decision and Publication
For New York City and the rest of the state, the judge will review your request and mail you the signed Order or a Notice rejecting your request. If your request is granted and you receive a signed Order, you will need to file the signed Order with the clerk’s office as you did with the Petition. You can request certified copies of the signed Order for a small fee. You cannot use the Order until you have filed it with the Clerk and received a certified copy showing that it has been filed.
After you receive a certified copy of the Order, you will need to publish a Notice with a local newspaper, in the county of the Order, within 20 days. Call the newspaper to find out the steps necessary for publication and the applicable fee. Fill out the Notice with the minor’s information. Your publication should have the following format:
Notice is hereby given that an order entered by the _______ Court, ____county, on the ___ day of ___, bearing Index Number ____, a copy of which may be examined at the office of the clerk, located at ____, in room number ____, grants me the right to assume the name of ___________, the date of my birth is ______, the place of my birth is _________, my present name is _______.
After the Notice has been published, you will need to return to the clerk’s office and fill out an Affidavit of Publication. Once the Affidavit has been filed, the name change will be final. The certified copy of the Order can then be used to change all of your child’s legal documents, including his or her social security card, passport, and driver’s license.
Additional Steps for Non-Consent
Parents or guardians that do not fill out a consent form have to be served with a copy of the Petition and a notice of the time and place of the name change hearing on (a) both parents of the minor, if they are living, unless the petition is made by one of the parents, in which case notice must be served on the other, if he or she is living, and (b) the general guardian or guardian of the person, if there is one. But if any of the persons required to be given notice by this section live outside of the state, then the notice must be sent by certified mail to the last known address of the person to be served. If the people needing service cannot be located, the court may dismiss the notice requirement.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.