Virginia Legal Name Change
Below are the relevant state statutes, as well as links to the form petitions and instructions for obtaining a legal name change for yourself or a minor.
If, after reviewing the information below, you find the need for further legal assistance, you should visit this online legal service.
If you are seeking a marriage name change or a divorce name change, your marriage license or divorce decree can serve as your legal name change document. Thus you can proceed to Name Change Notification, the final step of the name change process. Otherwise, read the information below and follow the links to learn about obtaining a legal name change.
Virginia State Code:
Sec. 8.01-217. How name of person may be changed. Any person desiring to change his own name, or that of his child or ward, may apply therefor to the circuit court of the county or city in which the person whose name is to be changed resides, or if no place of abode exists, such person may apply to any circuit court which shall consider such application if it finds that good cause exists therefor under the circumstances alleged. Applications of probationers and incarcerated persons may be accepted if the court finds that good cause exists for such application. An incarcerated person may apply to the circuit court of the county or city in which such person is incarcerated. In case of a minor who has no living parent or guardian, the application may be made by his next friend. In case of a minor who has both parents living, the parent who does not join in the application shall be served with reasonable notice of the application and, should such parent object to the change of name, a hearing shall be held to determine whether the change of name is in the best interest of the minor. If, after application is made on behalf of a minor and an ex parte hearing is held thereon, the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that such notice would present a serious threat to the health and safety of the applicant, the court may waive such notice.
Every application shall be under oath and shall include the place of residence of the applicant, the names of both parents, including the maiden name of his mother, the date and place of birth of the applicant, the applicant’s felony conviction record, if any, whether the applicant is presently incarcerated or a probationer with any court, and if the applicant has previously changed his name, his former name or names. On any such application and hearing, if such be demanded, the court, shall, unless the evidence shows that the change of name is sought for a fraudulent purpose or would otherwise infringe upon the rights of others or, in case of a minor, that the change of name is not in the best interest of the minor, order a change of name and the clerk of the court shall spread the order upon the current deed book in his office, index it in both the old and new names, and transmit a certified copy to the State Registrar of Vital Records and the Central Criminal Records Exchange. Transmittal of a copy to the State Registrar of Vital Records and the Central Criminal Records Exchange shall not be required of a person who changed his or her former name by reason of marriage and who makes application to resume a former name pursuant to § 20-121.4. If the applicant shall show cause to believe that in the event his change of name should become a public record, a serious threat to the health or safety of the applicant or his immediate family would exist, the chief judge of the circuit court may waive the requirement that the application be under oath or the court may order the record sealed and direct the clerk not to spread and index any orders entered in the cause, and shall not transmit a certified copy to the State Registrar of Vital Records or the Central Criminal Records Exchange. Upon receipt of such order by the State Registrar of Vital Records, for a person born in this Commonwealth, together with a proper request and payment of required fees, the Registrar shall issue certifications of the amended birth record which do not reveal the former name or names of the applicant unless so ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction. Such certifications shall not be marked "amended" and show the effective date as provided in § 32.1-272. Such order shall set forth the date and place of birth of the person whose name is changed, the full names of his parents, including the maiden name of the mother and, if such person has previously changed his name, his former name or names. (Code 1950, § 8-577.1; 1956, c. 402; 1973, c. 401; 1976, c.115; 1977, cc. 457, 617; 1979, cc. 599, 603, 612; 1980, cc.448, 455; 1981, c. 297; 1983, c. 335; 1985, c. 483; 1991, c.144.)
Sec. 8.01-19 Effect of marriage or change of name of party. The marriage of a party shall not cause a suit or action to abate. If a party changes his name, upon affidavit or other proof of the fact, the suit or action shall proceed in the new name, but if the change of name be not suggested before judgment, the judgment shall be as valid, and may be enforced in like manner, as if no such change of name had taken place.
Sec. 8.01-20 Effect of marriage, change of name or death on appeal. If at any time after verdict or judgment in the trial court during the pendency of an appeal or before the appeal is granted, the marriage, change of name or death of a party, or any other fact which might otherwise be relied on in abatement occurs, and such fact is suggested or relied on in abatement in the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, the court may, in its discretion, take or retain jurisdiction and enter judgment or decree in the case as if such event had not occurred.
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