Name Change

In South Carolina, name changes for both adults and minor children require an order from a Family Court judge.

Adults may seek a name change for a variety of reasons. Clients may seek a name change after a separation or divorce, or they may desire to be known by a name which better matches their identity. A request for an adult name that is not the result of a change in marital status must be done by a petition to the Court setting forth the reason for the name change request and providing specific documentation for the Court to consider:

–       A fingerprint and background check from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), along with an affidavit to SLED that the person has not been convicted of a crime under a different name other than the one under which the background check is being sought.

–       A screening statement from SCDSS which checks that name of the petitioner against the agency’s Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect.

–       An affidavit about whether the petitioner is under a court order to pay alimony or child support.

–       A screening statement from SLED to indicate if the petitioner is on the state’s sex offender registry.

Being under an order to pay support, having a criminal record, or appearing on a registry does not necessarily preclude the Court from approving the petition. The Court takes into consideration the reason given for the change and the protection of the public.  In the case of a criminal background or registry appearance, the Clerk of Court would advise DSS and/or SLED of an approved name change petition so that the registries would be updated.

Minor children name changes are treated differently. A parent who seeks the name change for a minor child must generally name the other parent in the petition. Also, a Guardian ad Litem must be appointed for the minor child to determine if the name change is in the best interest of the minor child. The Guardian ad Litem will do an investigation and report to the Court about the best interest of the child, especially if the parents are in disagreement with the name change.


Yes, it is considered a name change. If the child is under a year old, the process can be handled outside of Court through SC DHEC. If it is a small correction, the agency may require facts to show that it is a true correction, not a name change, and ask for what is termed “birth facts” to evidence that the birth certificate is incorrect with specific time and authentication requires from SC DHEC. Otherwise, a Family Court Order is required to correct a child’s name, and a Guardian ad Litem must be appointed for the child.
Absolutely. One of our attorneys is a proud member for the national LGBT bar and certified through their Family Law Institute. We have experience in name change cases and keep up to date on changes in the law regarding LGBTQ issues as part of our practice.
SC DHEC has internal mechanisms and processes regarding amending birth certificates in certain circumstances. If SC DHEC has advised you to get a court order, you would need to petition the Family Court for a name change for the minor child. Our attorneys can facilitate communication with the agency to obtain the specific requirements for SC DHEC to honor the request to amend your child’s birth certificate and submit a petition on your behalf.

Separate maintenance and support is paid periodically, but terminates upon the continued cohabitation of the supported spouse, upon the divorce of the parties, or upon the death of either spouse and is terminable and modifiable based upon changed circumstances in the future. The purpose of this form of support may include, but is not limited to, circumstances where a divorce is not sought, but it is necessary to provide for support of the supported spouse by way of separate maintenance and support when the parties are living separate and apart.

In making an award of alimony or separate maintenance and support, the court must consider and give weight in such proportion as it finds appropriate to all of the following factors:

(1) the duration of the marriage together with the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce or separate maintenance action between the parties;

(2) the physical and emotional condition of each spouse;

(3) the educational background of each spouse, together with the need of each spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouse’s income potential;

(4) the employment history and earning potential of each spouse;

(5) the standard of living established during the marriage;

(6) the current and reasonably anticipated earnings of both spouses;

(7) the current and reasonably anticipated expenses and needs of both spouses;

(8) the marital and nonmarital properties of the parties, including those apportioned to him or her in the divorce or separate maintenance action;

(9) custody of the children, particularly where conditions or circumstances render it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home, or where the employment must be of a limited nature;

(10) marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties, whether or not used as a basis for a divorce or separate maintenance decree if the misconduct affects or has affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage, except that no evidence of personal conduct which may otherwise be relevant and material for the purpose of this subsection may be considered with regard to this subsection if the conduct took place subsequent to the happening of the earliest of (a) the formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement or (b) entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the parties;

(11) the tax consequences to each party as a result of the particular form of support awarded;

(12) the existence and extent of any support obligation from a prior marriage or for any other reason of either party; and

(13) such other factors the court considers relevant.

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