Your name identifies you. But when your name no longer represents who you are, the state allows you to change your name for all legal purposes including financial accounts, government records, and school histories.
South Carolina has a process in place to minimize the risk of fraud in name changes. This screening process can slow down your name change petition, but if you clear all the background checks, a judge likely will approve your request.
Below is some information about changing your name in South Carolina and how a lawyer can help.
Overview of the Name Change Process
After denying legal issues in the LGBTQ community for centuries, states now must apply laws uniformly and equally regardless of a person’s gender, gender identity, trans status, or sexual orientation.
The ability to legally change their name has helped many in the LGBTQ community improve their lives. A name change can represent a major milestone in a person’s life.
Of course, people change their names for a variety of reasons, including as an incident of separation or divorce. Regardless of the reason, name changes always follow the same process in South Carolina.
Name Change Petition
Once you decide to change your name, you begin the legal process by preparing a name change petition. The petition gives the reason for the change. It must also list your age, place of residence, place of birth, and the proposed new name. For purposes of a name change petition, South Carolina treats changes to the first, middle, or last name the same.
A name change petition must include several supporting documents including:
You must get fingerprinted by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). SLED will conduct a criminal background check using your fingerprints. You must attach a copy of the criminal background check to your petition.
DSS Screening Statement
You must undergo screening by the Department of Social Services (DSS) to determine whether you appear on the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect. You must include DSS’s statement with the petition.
SLED Screening Statement
You must request a SLED screening to determine whether you appear on the sex offender registry. You must include SLED’s screening statement with your petition. Appearing on the registry will not necessarily block a name change. If the court grants the name change, it will notify SLED so it can update the registry.
Child Support and Alimony Affidavit
You must sign an affidavit that states whether you are subject to a court order to pay child support or alimony. If you are subject to paying court-ordered child support or alimony, the judge in the name change case might request information about whether you are current in your payments.
The judge assigned to your name change case will conduct a hearing before granting the petition. You should consider hiring a family law attorney to attend the hearing with you.
The judge will decide to grant the petition by balancing your interests in changing your name against the public protection interests in avoiding fraudulent name changes. But if you have no fraudulent intent and you provide clean screening documents, a judge should approve your petition.
To discuss your name change case, contact Bleecker Family Law for a consultation.