In approximately a month, after the petition is filed, the petitioner and his or her attorney must appear in court for a brief hearing. Most adult name changes are granted by the court without question at this hearing. Missouri law says that the court can deny a change only:
- If there is evidence that third parties, including the state, might be harmed.
- If the petitioner seeks the change to avoid paying debts owed to creditors.
- If the requested new name is bizarre, obscene, or offensive.
- If the name is the same as the name of a governmental entity.
After the judge approves the name change at the hearing, the judge signs a name-change decree. The final legal step in the process is that notice of the court-approved name change must be published in a local newspaper once a week for three weeks. After a name change is granted, the person will need to notify numerous persons and agencies of the change, including tax authorities, voter registration office, drivers license, and vehicle registration office, Social Security Administration, banks, and creditors, most of whom will want a copy of the name-change decree. A person using the court-approved name-change process can also have his or her birth certificate altered. The Missouri Bureau of Vital Statistics is authorized to amend a birth certificate upon receipt of a certified copy of a name-change decree. If you have questions and you would like to consult with an adult name change attorney regarding a name change, call James Piedimonte today.