Changing your name is a personal decision, and there are a variety of reasons for doing so. However, it is considered a major legal filing in the United States and handled differently depending on where you live. Harris County recommends you get legal aid to help in completing the multistep process to ensure there are no errors or delays in your name change. In addition to time, be prepared to spend several hundred dollars for a variety of fees related to changing your name.
Obtain the latest "Petition for An Adult Name Change" required to process your name change. If you are working with a lawyer, she can provide the form to you. Otherwise, the Adult Name Change form is available from the law library downtown at 1019 Congress St., Floor 17. The forms are not available online or at the Harris Country Clerk Office as of May 2011.
Purchase two sets of fingerprints from the Houston Police Department. The fee for fingerprinting is $9.95. Complete the identification boxes on each card (including name, sex, birth date and ORI). The ORI number is a case number provided to you by the court upon submitting your petition for a name change.
Complete the Petition for an Adult Name Change form and bring it to the County District Clerk at 201 Caroline, Suite 420, Houston, TX 77002. The filing fee is $227 as of May 2011 and is due at the time of filing. Upon filing, you are given a receipt for your records, a copy of the petition, an ORI number and a time to appear in court to finalize your name change.
Send one copy of your fingerprint card to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Central Cash Receiving, P.O. Box 15999, Austin, TX 78761. Include your payment as a check, money order to Texas Department of Public Safety in the amount of $15.00. Ensure that all of the blank fields on the card are complete, including your ORI number. The Department of Public Safety will send the results of your background check directly to the court administrators.
Call the court to determine whether the results of your background check have arrived. The results may not arrive until up to four months mailing your fingerprints. Call the court weekly one month after sending your fingerprints in case the results come back early. If your court date is imminent and the results have not been received by the court, request a later court date.
Appear in court at the scheduled day and time. Bring a copy of your petition. During your appearance, you will be required to swear before a judge the details of your petition. This serves as the formal portion of your name change. You will be asked to read the copy on your petition and may be asked additional questions by the judge. The judge then signs an official order allowing the legal change of your name.
Obtain a copy of your name change order from the court and use it to change the name on your accounts such as your driver's license, credit accounts and tax-related documents.
- If you do not have a lawyer, contact a Houston Lawyers Volunteer Program group that specializes in civil law matters such as Lone Star Legal Aid (see Resources).
- Office of Harris County District Clerk: Fee Schedule Civil and Family
- Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program: Resource and Referral Guide
- Fran Brochstein, Holistic Attorney, Counselor at Law & Mediator, Adult Name Changes in Harris County, Texas; 2011
- Office of Harris County District Clerk: Hours and Location
- Texas Department of Public Safety: What is the cost of a fingerprint-based Criminal Records History Check?