Legal name changes in Nevada can be accomplished in three different ways:
- by getting married in Nevada and taking the spouse’s surname;
- by getting divorced in Nevada and reverting to a maiden surname; or
- by petitioning a Nevada court to change names to anything the petitioner wants
People getting married or divorced simply have their names changes written into the marriage certificate or divorce decree, respectively. In contrast, people petitioning the court for a new name have to file various forms and possibly publish the news in a local paper.
In this article, our Las Vegas family law attorneys discuss how to get a legal name change in Nevada:
- 1. By marriage
- 2. By divorce
- 3. By court order
- 4. Name change of a child
- 5. What to do after a name change
Nevada marriage license applications have a box where brides and grooms can request to change their middle name and/or last name, but there are limitations.
Applicants can change their middle name to either:
- the current last name of the other applicant;
- the last name of either applicant given at birth;
- a hyphenated combination of the current middle name and the current last name of either applicant; or
- a hyphenated combination of the current middle name and the last name given at birth of either applicant.
Applicants can change their last name to either:
- the current last name of the other applicant;
- the last name of either applicant given at birth; or
- a hyphenated combination of the potential last names described above
Then once the couple marries, the Nevada state marriage certificate will serve as legal proof of the name change.1 Certified marriage certificates are available from the local county clerk:
For instance, people who married in Las Vegas can order a marriage certificate online from the Clark County Clerk. And people who are married in Reno can obtain a marriage certificate in person or through the mail from the Washoe County Clerk.
Note that it is the newlywed’s responsibility to inform other government agencies (such as the DMV) about the name change. Scroll down to section 5 for information on how to do this.
The majority of marriage-based name changes involve a bride taking the groom’s last name or hyphenating her name with his. There is also a trend where both spouses hyphenate their surnames. Though more and more, brides are choosing to keep their maiden names after marriage.
Read our related article on 5 steps for getting married in Las Vegas.
People who changed their names through marriage can get their names changed back by getting divorced. Upon request, the judge in the case will include the name change in the divorce decree. This decree serves as legal proof of the name change.2
People can get certified copies of their divorce decrees from the court which granted the divorce. For instance, a person who divorces in Las Vegas would contact the Clark County Family Court Clerk at (702) 455-2590.
Note that it is the divorcee’s responsibility to inform other government agencies (such as the Social Security Administration) about getting his/her name changed back. Scroll down to section 5 for information on how to do this.
It is common for brides who took their spouse’s last names to change back to their maiden names following divorce. Though many choose to keep their names, especially if they share children or they have cultivated a professional career using their married name.
Adults (age 18 and up) who wish to change their name in Nevada should follow the steps below:3
3.1. Meet prequalifications
In order to petition for a name change in Nevada, the petitioner must have lived in Nevada for at least six (6) weeks before filing the petition. Furthermore, the petitioner must intend to remain in Nevada for the foreseeable future.
In addition, the petitioner may not change names in an effort to avoid legal obligations or liabilities. For example, a judge will not grant a name change petition if the reason is to try to escape debts or an arrest.
3.2. Complete the paperwork
The petitioner needs to complete a “Petition for Change of Name” and file it with the local district court. The petition requires the following information:
- date of birth
- current name
- desired name
- reasons for the name change
- any past felony convictions
- fingerprints (only if there are past felony convictions)
If the petitioner neglects to include past felony convictions and the judge learns about it, the judge will automatically deny the petition.
In addition to the petition, other required paperwork typically includes:
- a Notice of Petition for Change of Name (which is not necessary to fill out if the petitioner is also changing gender identity); and
- Request for Summary Disposition & Declaration in Support (which asks the judge to grant the name change without holding a hearing)
3.2.1. Clark County Family Court name change forms
- Family Court cover sheet
- Petition for Change of Name
- Notice for Petition for Change of Name
- Request for Summary Disposition & Declaration in Support
- Order for Change of Name
3.3. File the paperwork
The change of name paperwork needs to be filed with a local district court. There is also a filing fee.
In Clark County for instance, the petitioner would file the paperwork with the Family Court, located at:
601 North Pecos Road
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Clark County Family Court also permits petitioners to file online or through the mail. The filing fee is currently $270, though it may be possible to get it waived due to financial difficulties. Learn more at the Southern Nevada Legal Aid Center Change of Name website.
3.4. Publish the Notice of Petition for Change of Name
Following publication, the paper will usually file an “Affidavit of Publication” with the court. Otherwise, the petitioner needs to get the affidavit from the newspaper and file it with the court him/herself.
Note that the court may waive this publication requirement if doing so could put the petitioner in danger. For example, see the Clark County Form for Waiver of Publication.
Also note that transexuals petitioning for a gender change never have to complete this publication requirement.
3.5. Submit the Order for Change of Name to the Judge
Once ten (10) days pass from the date of publication, petitioners should submit the Order for Change of Name to the judge. Petitioners can do this in person or by mailing it to the court.
Assuming there are no problems, the judge will sign the order. Then the judge may mail it back or call the petitioner with instructions on how to pick it up. Finally, the petitioner needs to file the order with the court clerk (unless the judge already did so).
This Court Order serves as legal proof of the name change.
3.6. Obtain certified copies of the Court Order
Petitioners then need to purchase certified copies of the Order for Change of Name from the court clerk. The number of copies depends on how many different places the petitioner needs to send copies to in order to prove his/her name change. These copies are usually not expensive.
3.7. Tell everyone who needs to know
It is the petitioner’s responsibility to inform various government agencies and companies (such as the petitioner’s bank) about the name change. Many of them may require certified copies of the Court Order at least photographs of it. Scroll down to section 5 for more information about this.
If both parents agree on the name change — or if one of the parents has died or had his/her parental rights terminated — then the process is fairly similar to changing an adult’s name (discussed in the previous section). However, there is no publication requirement.
If the name change is contested between the parents, things become a little more complicated. The parent petitioning for the change needs to have the papers served on the other parent. Otherwise, the judge might order the parent to publish the Notice of Change of Name in a newspaper once a week for three weeks. The judge may also order a hearing before granting the name change.4
Learn more at the Clark County Family Help Center website.
Once people have legal proof of their name change — either in the form of a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order — they need to tell the necessary government agencies and companies. These typically include:
- Social Security Administration in order to get a new social security card
- Nevada DMV to get a new driver’s license (including a Real ID)
- Vital Records to get a new birth certificate (if necessary)
- Banks and credit card companies to get new checks and credit cards
- The U.S. Department of State to get a new passport
- Mortgage company and/or landlords
- Utility companies
- Insurance companies
- Professional organizations which have licensed the petitioner
The process of informing these entities may take a while and require in-person trips (such as to a local Social Security Office). Some of these organizations will want to see legal proof of the change.
Call a Nevada family law attorney…
It is strongly recommended that you retain an attorney to help you with your name change petition. It is extremely technical and confusing, and you do not want an innocent mistake to hurt your chances.
Attorneys are especially helpful if children are involved and the parents are not in agreement. An attorney can help increase the odds of success while making sure every legal requirement is met.
- NRS 122.040.
- NRS 125.130
- NRS 41.270; NRS 41.280; NRS 41.290.
- NRS 41.291; NRS 41.293; NRS 41.294; NRS 41.295; NRS 41.296; NRS 41.297; NRS 41.298; Magiera v. Luera, 106 Nev. 775, 802 P.2d 6 (1990)(“The father has no greater right than the mother to have a child bear his surname…Instead, the only factor relevant to the determination of what surname a child should bear is the best interest of the child…Finally, the burden is on the party seeking the name change to prove, by clear and compelling evidence, that the substantial welfare of the child necessitates a name change.”); Petit v. Adrianzen, 392 P.3d 630, 633, 133 Nev. Adv. Rep. 15 (2017) (“Several jurisdictions have established a nonexhaustive list of factors for courts to consider when determining a child’s best interest in an initial naming dispute case: (1) the length of time that the child has used his or her current name; (2) the name by which the child has customarily been called; (3) whether a name change will cause insecurity or identity confusion; (4) the potential impact of the requested name change on the child’s relationship with each parent; (5) the motivations of the parties in seeking a name change; (6) the identification of the child with a particular family unit, giving proper weight to stepparents, stepsiblings, and half-siblings who comprise that unit; and (7) any embarrassment, discomfort, or inconvenience that may result if the child’s surname differs from that of the custodial parent.”).