My Legal Quagmire

I’ve got an issue … with my name.

And I’m not talking about how no one in my real life seems to like my name …

I’m talking about effectuating a legal name change.

Now … I’ve assisted plenty of people in legally changing their name.

It’s really no big deal … in my state of residence … the following elements are principal to a name change :

1.) Criminal background check … you have to fill out your petition to change your name … take it to the court clerk … let them stamp it … then go to the police department … have your fingerprints taken … then send it to the state police for a criminal check … which they report back to the court clerk … if that comes back negative … then the clerk will schedule you for a hearing … usually about 30 days out, because …

2.) You must have Notice of your Name Change Petition published in a newspaper with a bonafide subscription base printing at least weekly editions for a minimum of two years in your county of residence at least 14 days before your hearing … and ….

3.) You must live in your county of residence for a least a year before filing a request.

Now compared to other states … many don’t make you go through the process of a criminal background check … but that’s really no big deal … believe it or not, you butts … it shouldn’t be a problem for me !! 🙂

What the issue is for me is the combination of the 1 year residency requirement in your county AND the publication requirement. Now publication is standard everywhere … but 1 year of living in a county before filing is pretty demanding.

And I don’t want to change my name here in my county of residence because in my line of work … regardless of whether or not I publish in the standard publicatioooon or the smallest, acceptable county newspaper … people I know … work with … are going to read it … become aware of it … for me it’s like publishing it on a billboard.

And I can’t go to another county to change my name … because I’d have to live there a year before I could make the request … and I don’t have a year !! 🙂

It’s not that I’m embarassed about it … or want to keep it a “secret” in an all encompassing way … I just don’t want to call unnecessary attention to myself and create excess talkage about me. Which will happen as soon as it becomes known at the courthouse.

Now state court rules provide that the publication requirement could be waived on order of a judge, but that still requires talking a judge into sealing the record … and the basis for such a request is more related to protecting the safety of an individual from a battered spouse/significant other perspective … not for issues of pure privacy. And even if the record is sealed … it’s really not sealed … there would bound to be plenty of leaks.

I checked out the possibilty of maybe just changing my surname via amending my Judgment of Divorce, then with a different surname … publish and change again … but at least be a step removed from direct linkage … but it’s not clear you can accomplish it via an amended Judgment and state law only allows “women” to change their surname via that option … and though I could make the argument I am one … I doubt it would be a prevailing argument here .. at least for now. Creative idea though, huh? 🙂

I’ve thought about going to another state to accomplish the task … one with less onerous residency and timing requirements … but there would be some value changing it in my home state … because we do have a really nice statute with regards to getting new birth certiicates with a new name and gender designator … and though I could do it with a foreign state name change order … it’d be easier at that point if it was all done … domestically.

And I do have some pressing timing issues … I’ve got my own personal records to address … my firm has to determine what it’s going to do with its firm name, as once my surname changes, we have to change the firm name contemporaneously … plus my notary expires in two months and I need to renew it, and in my state … there specifically is NO option for changing it at anytime except for renewals … which means either I get it changed for this renewal or am stuck with my old name for notary purposes for the next four years … though I could always just let it expire and not renew.

I really don’t have a good solution … and suspect that I most likely am just going to have to accept that I’m going to become the talk among others in my profession … and let my function become known to many more than I really want … which will have a very direct impact on my career and practice here.


(In case you’re wondering … despite the shall we say … “less than embracing” reception my chosen name has received among many … I am keeping the first name, Amelia (though I go by Amy, Aims and Nice Ass), and last name that I have chosen. My middle name though is up for grabs. Personally, I still really like the name I have been using … Jill … it’s nice and the syllables work. But my mom is suggesting Rebecca, which is my grandmother’s name, and then of course Gina is still in the running … which would be for The UnUsual Suspect amusement purposes !! :))

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  1. skipper–yes, everything is this difficult,
    although it comes down to risk management; aims doesn’t have to be as careful as she is, but if she is careless at any point, she will not have the chance to be careful retroactively…
    but the bottom line is that mackenna is right;
    there is a limit to how much you can do to keep something discreet…

    and i think danielle would be a great middle name…

    “Amelia Danielle Surname”
    you get goosebumps, don’t you?

  2. but then again…I could be wrong! LOL…

    Another question…Do you have to put your address in the nakme change thing? The reason I ask is that in doing a google search, I tuned up so many people with my same )old) name, that it could have applied to any of them…

    We tend to think everyone is staring at us, when in reality, they could care LESS about us!

  3. I think you’re goung to have to eat it. If it hasn’t already gotten out there, it will, and not because you publish your name change in newspaper…

    A very close friened of mine (a transwoman) is an attorney for one of the largest cities in CT. Her coming out was on page three, above the fold of the regional newpaper.

    You’re trying to control this thing, and to a great extent its uncontrollable at a certain point. The critical mass of people knowing will be (or is now) so great that the geometric progression of the information flow will rapidly eclipse any small print in the newspaper…

    Jess ma humble o’pin-yun…


  4. how complicated. for crying out loud, does everything take this much thought and effort? i would cry. i can hardly handle ordering my chai in the morning, let alone looking up statutes that actually apply to me…so, lots of good luck and patience to you. oh, and i will totally have your back if anyone talks any smack…keep in mind that i am only in town in the summers though.

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