Records of family law proceedings are available online in many Texas counties. Divorces are usually a matter of public record and many Texas counties are working to make such records more easily accessible to the general population. The information available online varies by county, but generally case details such as the style of the case and the names of the parties are available. Many counties also provide information regarding court costs, hearing dates, lists of all pleadings, names of attorneys involved, and even images of some court documents, like original petitions for divorce or temporary orders signed by the judge.
If you are an adult in the State of Texas and desire to legally change your current name, there are procedural steps that must be taken before a court will sign an order granting a legal name change. The steps are as followed:
- File an Original Petition requesting a legal name change.
- Fingerprinting and Background Check.
- Proving up your name change.
- Certified copy.
This petition will be filed with a family law court in the county of your residence. In this document you request that your name be legally changed to your desired new name. You must also affirm that you have no previous felony convictions and are not a registered sex offender.
The State of Texas requires that persons desiring a legal name change are fingerprinted and have a background check conducted. You can have your fingerprints taken at a local police department, FBI office or an organization such as Fingerprint Applicant Service of Texas (FAST). Once you have been fingerprinted and received your fingerprint cards, they will need to be submitted to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the organization responsible for running background checks.
Background checks typically take six weeks to be processed and returned to the court. You may not proceed on your name change until the court has received the results of your background check.
Once the court has received the results of your fingerprints and background check, you may finalize your request for a name change. Adult name changes are typically heard on the uncontested docket, which means that you and your attorney will sign up and approach the judge. You will “prove up” your requested name change by testifying that you have requested a name change, your reasons for the requested name change, affirming that you are not requesting a name change in an effort to avoid criminal prosecution or collection of debts and what your new requested name shall be. Once you have given testimony and the court approves your request, the court will sign an order granting your requested name change.
Now that the court has approved your requested name change, you will need to obtain a certified copy from the court or district clerk, which is a copy of the order containing the judge’s signature. You will need this order to take with you to the Social Security Office, the DMV, your bank and any other organizations where you will need to show proof of your new legal name.
Quick Tip: If you are currently going through a divorce it is less expensive to include the adult name change as part of the divorce process rather than filing a separate petition which requires the background checks.