Instructions for Filing for a Name Change - Minor

Changing your name can be complicated; consider talking to an attorney. Information about finding an attorney is available on our Finding Legal Help page. One way to talk to an attorney is to visit a free legal clinic. See our Legal Clinics page for a list of clinics statewide.

Utah's laws about name change are Utah Code §42-1-1 through §42-1-3


Before Filing the Name Change Petition

  • The minor must live in the county where the name change petition will be filed for at least one year before the petition is filed.
  • The name change petition cannot be filed while the minor is involved in any kind of lawsuit, or while the minor is on probation or parole.
  • Some courts may require the filing of the Department of Corrections Certification Regarding Sex Offender Registry form for minors older than 10. A minor must not be barred as a sex offender from name changes under the provisions of Utah Code Section 77-41-106
  • The name change petition cannot be filed to avoid creditors, fines, or sentences in criminal actions.
  • The name change process cannot be used for an unworthy motive, or to commit fraud on the public.
  • The court will not change a name to one that is bizarre, unduly lengthy, ridiculous, or offensive to common decency and good taste.
  • Before changing a minor's name, the court must find that the name change is in the minor's "best interest." It will do so by considering several facts, which may include but not be limited to the following:
    1. the minor's preference, in light of the minor's age and experience;
    2. the effect of a name change on the development and preservation of the minor's relationship with each parent;
    3. the length of time a minor has used a name;
    4. the difficulties, harassment, or embarrassment a minor may experience from the present or proposed name;
    5. the possibility that a different name may cause the minor insecurity and lack of identity; and
    6. the motive or interests of the custodial parent.

Common Terms

  • Petition: The document that begins the name change process.
  • Petitioner: The person filing the Petition for Name Change.
  • Minor: In these forms, the word "minor" refers to anyone less than 18 years old.
  • May: In legal terms, "may" means "optional" or "can."
  • Shall: In legal terms, "shall" means something is required.

Fees

The fee for filing a name change petition is listed on the Cover Sheet for Civil Filing Actions, which must be filed with your Petition.

If you cannot afford the filing fee, fill out a Motion and Affidavit to Waive Fees. Sign this Application in front of a notary or the court clerk, and file it with the court when you file your Petition for Changing Minor's Name. The judge will review your Application, and determine if you do not have to pay the fees. If the judge decides you are able to pay the fees, the judge will not sign the final order until the fees are paid.


Forms (for name change of a minor)

You can type your answers into the form, or you can print a blank form and handwrite your answers. It is always best to type information into the forms, rather than filling them in by hand. If a clerk or judge cannot read your handwriting, the documents will be returned to you to do them over. Forms required for changing a minor's name are:


Steps to Filing a Minor's Name Change Case

  • Step 1: Complete and file the appropriate forms.
    • Petition for Minor's Name Change
      • Fill in all the blanks on the Petition.
      • Make copies of all documents to keep for your records, and for anyone who is a parent, custodian, guardian, or who, by law, is entitled to notice of the name change action. Also give notice to a minor old enough to independently decide whether the minor wants the name change.
      • Sign the Petition in the presence of a notary public or court clerk, who must verify your identity and your signature. It is best to do this before going to court. Most banks have a notary, although many may charge a fee for this service to non-customers. By signing in front of a notary, you are stating under oath that the document is true.
    • Cover sheet: This can be downloaded here.
    • Request for Hearing. The court will not schedule a hearing unless you request one.
    • Application and Affidavit for Waiver of Court Filing Fees: Complete this form only if your income is so low that you cannot pay the filing fee. For more information and forms, see our page on Fees and Fee Waiver.
  • Step 2: Obtain written consent to changing the name from the minor's natural parent(s), guardian, or custodian. (A form is included for this purpose.) File these written consents with the court, when you file the Petition. If you do not obtain this consent, the court will require that notice and the Petition be sent to these persons. The hearing will then be re-scheduled to allow them time to respond and to participate in the hearing.
  • Step 3: File your case with the court, and obtain a hearing.
    • Take the documents identified in Step 1 above to the district court in the county where the minor has lived for the past year. Locate the counter for the court clerk, and give these documents to the clerk, along with the required filing fee.
    • If the Petition was not yet signed in the presence of a Notary Public, you must sign it before the clerk at this time.
    • When you file the Petition, ask the court clerk whether the district court automatically sets a hearing. If a hearing is automatically set, the clerk will notify you of your hearing date, either by phone or in writing. If you do not hear from the clerk within a week, you should contact the clerk and ask about your case status. Be sure to have your case number ready to give to the clerk.
    • If the court does not automatically set a hearing, but requires you to file a request for a hearing, use the form included here.
  • Step 4: Serve any required notices about the Name Change petition. If you do not obtain written consent to changing the name from the minor's natural parent(s), guardian, or custodian, you must serve that person with a Summons and a copy of the Petition before the hearing. The necessary Summons document is included with these forms.
    • Include the court's address in the Summons, and on all the forms. If the court's address is not on the Summons, the judge may make you serve these documents again.
    • You may serve the Summons and Petition by United States mail (first class, certified, return receipt requested), or by commercial courier (such as Federal Express or United Parcel Service).
      • NOTE: Service will only be complete if the receipt is personally signed by the person to whom the documents are sent, and then returned to you by the post office or commercial courier service. No one else is allowed to sign the receipt for the documents.
      • After the signed receipt is returned to you, attach it to the document called Proof of Service by Mail. Also attach the summons to the Proof of Service by Mail, and then file these documents with the court.
    • If you cannot obtain service by mail, we recommend that you use a sheriff or constable to serve the Summons and Petition, instead of a friend or relative. If you have a low income and cannot pay the service fee, service will be provided free if you present a sheriff or constable in Utah with an Application for Waiver of Court Fees. Provide the sheriff or constable with a copy of the Petition for Minor's Name Change and two properly completed Summonses.
      • After delivering the Petition and one Summons to the party being served, the sheriff or constable will return the other Summons to you, along with a document they create called a Return of Service. Make copies of these for your records, and then file the originals with the court.
    • The person served will have 21 days to respond if served in Utah, and 30 days if served outside Utah.
    • For a detailed description of various methods of service allowed in Utah, review Rule 4 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure, or contact one of the sources of legal advice and referral listed above, by clicking here.
  • Step 5: If it is not possible to serve the other parent, complete the forms for asking the court to waive service. Some examples of when it might be impossible to serve the other parent are if a father has never acknowledged paternity, or if the other parent's parental rights were terminated. To ask the court to waive service on the other parent, complete the following documents, and file them with the court when you file your Cover Sheet and Petition (Step 3 above):
    • Motion to Waive Service - PDF Document PDF | Word Document Word
    • Petitioner's Affidavit in Support of Motion to Waive Service - PDF Document PDF | Word Document Word
    • Order to Waive Service - PDF Document PDF | Word Document Word
  • Step 6: If the case is contested, consider retaining an attorney and/or asking for appointment of a guardian ad litem.
    • If you receive a response to the Petition that opposes a name change for the minor, then the case is contested. The party filing the response will probably appear at the hearing, perhaps with an attorney. You should consider whether to proceed without an attorney. If you proceed without an attorney, you and the contesting party must move the case along according to the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure (i.e., file appropriate motions, do discovery, attempt mediation and settlement, certify that the case is ready for trial, etc.). Directions about how to do this are beyond the scope of these instructions. For more information, you might attend one of the pro se clinics mentioned elsewhere in these instructions, and listed on the courts' website here.
    • Whether or not you decide to hire your own attorney, you may want to ask the court to appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor. There is an Application for Appointment of Guardian ad Litem and an Order Appointing Guardian ad Litem with these forms. If there is a cost for doing so, the court will decide who shall pay the cost. The petitioner may have to pay some or all of the cost, or the person opposing the name change may have to pay some or all of the cost.
  • Step 7: Attend the hearing. At the hearing, this is what you should do:

    Because most name changes are granted, prepare the final Order Changing Minor's Name before the hearing, and bring it with you.

    Arrive early at court, and bring the minor with you. Both of you should be dressed appropriately. Persons who show up in shorts, tank tops, or other casual wear may be asked to leave.

    Check the written calendar of cases to make sure you are in the right courtroom. Usually, a calendar of cases is posted outside the courtroom. A calendar may also be placed on courtroom tables.

    If your case is not on the calendar, ask the court clerk about this. Speak to the clerk before or after the court session; never interrupt court proceedings to talk to the clerk.

    The court almost always sets more than one hearing at a time. Take a seat in the audience section of the courtroom until your case is called. When the judge enters, everyone stands until the bailiff says they may be seated.

    When your case is called, announce to the judge that you and the minor are present by standing up, saying your name and that the minor is with you, and saying that you are representing yourself. When the judge indicates, walk to the podium. (Sometimes, the judge may ask that you be sworn in to testify from the witness stand about the information in your Petition.)

    Always address the judge as "Your Honor." Be courteous to all court personnel. Remember, the judge has the power to fine you or send you to jail if you are rude or discourteous.

    Answer any questions from the judge. Tell the judge that the minor has been a county resident for one year immediately before filing the petition, the reasons for changing the minor's name, and that what you wrote in the petition shows the name change is in the minor's best interest. Also, tell the judge that no one else will be affected by the name change. If someone will be affected, tell what that impact will be. Be prepared to tell the judge about any court cases in which the minor is involved, and whether the minor is on probation, parole, or out-of-home placement with the Dept. of Youth Corrections.

    The judge will probably want the minor to testify about whether the minor wants the name change. The judge may also choose to interview the minor in the judge's chambers (the judge's personal office), because it is usually less stressful on the minor than taking the witness stand in open court. The judge may have the minor wait in the hall during testimony from you or other witnesses.

    If another party is present, he or she will be allowed to ask you questions. After that party or other witnesses testify, you will be allowed to ask them questions.

    Some courts are so busy that the judge will not allow the hearing to proceed if anyone contests the name change. Instead, the judge may set a later trial date to allow more time to receive testimony and evidence.

    If everything is proper and it is in the minor's best interest to change the minor's name, the judge will announce this at the end of the hearing. After the judge makes a decision, you should ask permission to hand the judge the Order you have prepared. The judge will usually sign it at the end of the hearing, if it is correct.

    If the case is contested and there is a trial, the judge will announce the final decision and order at the end of the trial. Whoever is ordered by the judge to draft the written Order must include what the judge finds and orders. If an attorney did not represent you, take careful notes when the judge announces the findings and order. At the end of the hearing, the judge will almost always ask if there is anything else. That is a good time to ask about anything you did not understand. If your notes are not adequate, obtain a copy of the proceedings so that you will include everything that the judge said. (A fee will be charged for this copy, even if your filing fee was waived.)

    The Order must be completed within 21 days after the hearing or trial. Copies must be sent to any opposing parties, or to their attorneys, if they had attorneys. They have 7 days to object to the Order. (If you mailed the copies, they have 10 days to object.) If an objection is made, the Order should be checked to make sure it accurately reflects what the judge said. If there is an error, it must be corrected. If there are no errors, submit the Order to the judge to review and, hopefully, sign.

    If the judge is not ready to decide your case after the hearing or trial, the judge will take it "under advisement." Later, the judge will send you a written decision. If the written decision grants the name change, then you should file the Order Changing Minor's Name with the court, so that the judge can sign it. Read the written decision carefully, and make sure that the Order reflects what the judge's written decision actually states. You have 21 days to do this.

    If the matter was contested, send a copy of the completed documents to the opposing parties or their attorneys. They will have 7 days to file an objection. (If you mailed the copies, they have 10 days to object.)

  • Step 8: Give notice of the name change to anyone to whom the judge directs notice. Whether the judge signs an order granting or denying a minor's name change, the judge may also order that the petition notify the minor's school, church, and others of the minor's correct name.
  • Step 9: Return to the court after the judge has signed the Order Changing Minor's Name, and ask the clerk for one or more certified copies of the Order. Keep these copies in a safe place, with other important papers. Then you will have the Order whenever you need it for purposes of changing the minor's name (such as on the minor's birth certificate, social security records, etc.). The court will charge a fee to copy and certify the Order.
  • Step 10: If the name change is denied, re-write the Order Changing Minor's Name to reflect the judge's decision, and file it with the court.
    • After the order denying the name change has been entered, you will have 30 days to appeal.
    • An appeal is beyond the scope of these instructions. To discuss the possibility of an appeal, you may want to contact an attorney or attend one of the pro se clinics mentioned elsewhere in these instructions.
  • Step 11: If you want to change the minor's birth certificate after obtaining a court order changing the minor's name, you may do so by filing the order with the state registrar in one of the following ways:
    • Obtain an amended birth certificate by going to the Vital Records office, paying the fee, and presenting a certified copy of the court's name change order, as well as a valid picture identification. The Vital Records office is located at:
      Utah Office of Vital Records and Statistics
      288 North 1460 West
      Salt Lake City, UT 84114
      (801) 538-6105
    • An amended birth certificate may also be obtained through the mail. That process involves some delay, because a notarized signature must be returned to the office before the amended birth certificate can be issued. The address for requesting an amended birth certificate by mail is:
      Utah Office of Vital Records and Statistics
      P.O. Box 141012
      Salt Lake City, UT 84114-1012

Page Last Modified: 5/9/2014
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