If you don't have a copy of your divorce decree, you can use the Divorce Records Request Letter. If you don't have a copy of your birth certificate, you can use the Birth Certificate Request Letter. Both take only minutes to complete on Rocket Lawyer.
Once you have a copy of your divorce decree, check to see if it includes a provision that grants your name change. If it does, this document will serve as your legal proof of name change and you will have to contact your local county clerk to change your name. If this provision was left out of your final divorce decree, contact the court that handled your case and ask if they will allow you to amend the document. Not all California courts allow amendments, so if they deny your request, you need to proceed with a petition for name change.
Although your divorce decree grants you the legal documentation to change your name, you will need to notify the appropriate government agencies of your new name. Some of the most common offices requiring notification are the Social Security Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles. To save time, you may fill out Social Security form SS-5 in advance. Take the form to your local Social Security Office. The staff there will verify your personal documents and give you a certificate showing that the Social Security Office has approved your name change. Alternatively, you may mail your completed form SS-5 to your local Social Security Office with a certified copy of your proof of identification, divorce decree, and proof of age and your documents will be returned to you with your new social security card by mail.
Once you have the certificate approving your name change from the Social Security Office, you can take it to the Department of Motor Vehicles to change your name on your driver's license while you wait for your new social security card. You have to do this step in person at your nearest California Department of Motor Vehicles. Your new license and Social Security card should be mailed to you within six weeks. These new forms of identification and the certificate from the Social Security Office may be used to change other legal identification, like your passport.
If your divorce is not final or your divorce did not take place in California, see the California Courts instructions for Name Change After or During a Divorce Case.
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.