What is the process for getting a name change?

by Justin D. Riem

Whether it is for you or your child, in order to get a name changed, you will need to obtain a court order. Name changes can be granted as part of divorce proceedings, but only for the soon-to-be ex-spouses, not for their children. Outside of divorce and for minor children, name changes can only be granted upon a proper filing of a petition for a name change. The Iowa Legislature has made obtaining name changes relatively simple by providing standard forms for applicants to complete and file. Although the process is streamlined by the use of standard forms, getting a name change is not as simple as merely filling out and filing the necessary forms. Name change petitions must be filed in the county where the applicant resides and, among the information required in the form, must be filed along with a certified copy of the birth certificate for the individual whose name will be changed. Unless it’s through a divorce action, filing a name change petition costs $185.

If the applicant is filing with or on behalf of a minor child, the other parent must be provided with notice of the petition in accordance with the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure. If the child whose name is to be changed is 14 years of age or older, the child’s written consent must be filed along with the petition. If, however, the child is under 14 years of age, the written consent of the parents on the birth certificate must be filed. If the non-filing parent does not consent to the name change, a hearing must be held no less than 20 days after notice has been given. However, the Court can waive the parent’s consent if it finds one of the following has occurred: a) the other parent has abandoned the child; b) the other parent was ordered to pay some form of support and failed to do so without good cause; or c) the other parent does not object after having been given “due and proper notice.”

According to Iowa law, petitions for name changes cannot be granted any sooner than 30 days after they’re filed. Once granted, the Court issues a decree of name change, providing the petitioner with a certified copy of said decree. The Clerk of Court also mails an abstract of the decree requiring a name change to be reflected on a birth certificate to the state registrar of vital statistics of the Iowa Department of Public Health. If you have questions or concerns regarding name changes in Iowa, you should contact a licensed attorney.