How to Easily Change the Name You Hate in South Carolina Family Court
Written by: Megan Dell
When navigating how to change your name in South Carolina, you may be surprised by how challenging the process can be.
Reasons to Want a Change the Name You Have
Maybe you have always hated your name and wanted to change it. Or maybe you are ready to resume your maiden name as part of reclaiming your identity after a divorce. Regardless of why you want a name change, as long as you can prove the change is for purely personal reasons, the South Carolina Family Court will probably grant your request.
There are two ways for an adult to change their name in South Carolina: through a name change action or through a separate support and maintenance or divorce action.
Name Change in South Carolina Through a Divorce Case
The most common way to change one’s name is through their divorce case. A party in a divorce case does not have to determine whether they would like to change their name in the beginning of the case. This can be decided prior to a final order.
S.C. Code Ann. Section 15-49-20(J) makes process to request the name change straightforward: you notify the Family Court and the opposing party of a desire to change your name, and at the final hearing, you will be required to provide specific testimony to answer these questions:
- Are you under a previous court order to pay child support or alimony?
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime under your current name?
- Are you hiding from creditors?
- Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? Are you considering filing for bankruptcy?
- Are you trying to avoid criminal prosecution?
- Are you named on any sex offender registry?
- Are you named on any child abuse or neglect registry?
- Have you ever been denied a passport?
After you give the Family Court judge the answers to these questions, it is more likely than not your name change will be granted.
Name Change in South Carolina Through a Name Change Case
The other way one can change their name is through a separate name change case. This is where the only issue before the Court is whether or not a party may change their legal name. Because of the requirements of S.C. Code Ann. Section 15-49-20(A), it can be more complicated than changing your name during a divorce case.
Before filing the petition for name change, you are required to do the following:
- Give your fingerprints and have SLED run a criminal background check.
- Request a screening of the child abuse and neglect registry from DSS.
- Sign an affidavit stating whether you are ordered to pay alimony or child support.
Once you have obtained those documents, you can file the request to change your name. With that request, you will also ask for a hearing in front of a judge.
At the final hearing on your petition, you will be asked questions about whether you have filed bankruptcy or are planning to and whether your ability to travel has ever been limited. One of the most common questions is, “Are you seeking to change your name for purely personal reasons?”
After the Name Change is Granted
Once a South Carolina Family Court judge has granted the request to change your name, you will have to update your name with the Social Security Administration and then obtain a new photo identification card from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.
Change the Name you Hate: If You Need Help in South Carolina
Making sure you get every detail in your name change case right can feel overwhelming. The lawyers of Dell Family Law are well-versed in South Carolina name change cases and are ready to help you through it.