West 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.


West Virginia State Code:

Sec. 48-5-1. Petition to circuit court for change of name; contents thereof; notice of application. Any person desiring a change of his own name, or that of his child or ward, may apply therefor to the circuit court or any other court of record having jurisdiction of the county in which he resides, or the judge thereof in vacation, by petition setting forth that he has been a bona fide resident of such county for at least one year prior to the filing of the petition, the cause for which the change of name is sought, and the new name desired; and previous to the filing of such petition such person shall cause to be published a notice of the time and place that such application will be made, which notice shall be published as a Class I legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of article three, chapter fifty-nine of this code, and the publication area for such publication shall be the county.

Sec. 48-5-2. Objections to change of name. Any person who is likely to be injured by the change of name of any person so petitioning, or who knows of any reason why the name of any such petitioner should not be changed, may appear at the time and place named in the notice, and shall be heard in opposition to such change.

Sec. 48-5-3. When court may order change of name. Upon the filing of such petition, and upon proof of the publication of such notice and of the matters set forth in the petition, and being satisfied that no injury will be done to any person by reason of such change, that reasonable and proper cause exists for changing the name of petitioner, and that such change is not desired because of any fraudulent or evil intent on the part of the petitioner, the court or judge thereof in vacation may order a change of name as applied for except as provided by the provisions of this section. The court may not grant any change of name for any person convicted of any felony during the time that the person is incarcerated. The court may not grant any change of name for any person required to register with the state police pursuant to the provisions of article eight-f, chapter sixty-one of this code during the period that such person is required to register. The court may not grant a change of name for persons convicted of first degree murder in violation of section one, article two, chapter sixty-one of this code for a period of ten years after the person is discharged from imprisonment or is discharged from parole, whichever occurs later. The court may not grant a change of name of any person convicted of violating any provision of section fourteen-a, article two, chapter sixty-one of this code for a period of ten years after the person is discharged from imprisonment or is discharged from parole, whichever occurs later.

Sec. 48-5-4. Recordation of order changing name. When such order is made the petitioner shall forthwith cause a certified copy thereof to be filed in the office of the clerk of the county court of the county where petitioner resides, and such clerk shall record the same in a book to be kept for the purpose and index the same under both the old and the new names. For such recording and indexing the clerk shall be allowed the same fee as for a deed.

Sec. 48-5-5. When new name to be used. When such change has been ordered and a certified copy of the order filed in the office of the county clerk, the new name shall thenceforth be used in place of the former name.

Sec. 48-5-6. Unlawful change of name. Any person residing in this state who shall change his name, or assume another name, unlawfully, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not exceeding one hundred dollars, and upon a repetition thereof shall be confined in jail not exceeding sixty days.

Sec. 48-5-7. Unlawful change of name by certain felons and registrants.
(a) It is unlawful for any person convicted of first degree murder in violation of section one, article two, chapter sixty-one of this code, and for any person convicted of violating any provision of section fourteen-a, article two, chapter sixty-one of this code, for which a sentence of life imprisonment is imposed, to apply for a change of name for a period of ten years after the person is discharged from imprisonment or is discharged from parole, whichever occurs later.

(b) It is unlawful for any person required to register with the state police pursuant to the provisions of article twelve, chapter fifteen of this code to apply for a change of name during the period that the person is required to register.

(c) It is unlawful for any person convicted of a felony to apply for a change of name during the period that such person is incarcerated.

(d) A person who violates the provisions of subsections (a), (b) or (c) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than ten thousand dollars or imprisoned in the county or regional jail for not more than one year, or both fined and incarcerated.

State Name Change Petition and Instructions
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