Name Changes

There are many reasons one may desire a name change:

  • You were not legally adopted, but would like to take your stepparent’s last name.
  • You were divorced and want to return to your maiden name.
  • You want to take you mother’s family name.
  • You and your spouse/partner want to combine your last names to create a hyphenated or completely new last name.

In the past, it was not uncommon for government agencies to accept a change of name based on common usage, despite what was on that individual’s birth certificate, or despite the lack of a birth certificate.  Security regarding individual identity continues to tighten, however, and government agencies are increasingly hesitant to recognize a change of name or issue new forms of identification without a court order granting a name change or authorizing the issuance of a delayed birth certificate.  Further, certain identifying documents bearing one’s name, such as a Social Security card or out-of-state driver’s license, used to be sufficient for obtaining new or current identification.  This is no longer the case for most agencies, and many, like the South Carolina DMV, now require a valid, certified birth certificate before issuing a license for the first time.

In South Carolina, legal name changes (not incident to marriage or divorce) and delayed birth certificates can only be obtained via court order.  A person seeking a change of name or issuance of a delayed birth certificate must file an action in the local family court, and in addition to a court appearance, the process is laden with paperwork. To an individual unfamiliar with the process, it may seem quite overwhelming and ultimately, not worth the effort.

Let our experienced attorneys assist you in navigating this process.  We will walk you through the process from beginning to end, and will help ensure that it is neither an overwhelming nor stressful experience.