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Anyone can change his or her name for any reason. The ability to change a name is particularly important when dealing with life changes such as marriage, divorce, or when changing minor children’s names. In order to legally change your name in Colorado, you must petition a court in the county of which you live, see C.R.S. §13-15-101.
The process of changing your name involves a number of steps. Please consult the information provided in the Colorado Court’s Instructions for filing a Change of Name (Adult) for step-by-step details.
The first step to start the name change process is to complete the required fingerprint based criminal history check. This must be completed no more than 90 days prior to filing for your name change. The background check must be completed by both the Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Contact your local law enforcement office to find out where you should go to be fingerprinted.
The court or the sheriff’s department should supply you with the necessary fingerprint cards. You will see a box labeled “Reason Fingerprinted” on the card in the upper left hand corner. Complete that box with the following: “§13-15-101 Legal Name Change.” It is important that the CBI and FBI know that the criminal history check is for a legal name change. Please write your name, home address, and date of birth clearly on the fingerprint card. If the agency completing the fingerprints uses an electronic print system, please do not write on the cards as the agency will automatically input the information for you.
You are responsible for mailing or hand-delivering the completed fingerprint cards to the CBI and the FBI. Allow up to 13 weeks to process the criminal history check from the FBI and up to 4 weeks to receive your criminal history check from the CBI. The criminal history results must be conducted within 90 days prior to the filing of the petition. For this reason, it is best to mail your FBI fingerprint card, wait 7 – 9 weeks, and then mail or hand-deliver your CBI fingerprint card. You will receive a full report from both agencies.
You must submit the FBI fingerprint card with a cover letter. You can locate more information regarding these requirements on the FBI site under Identification Record Request/Criminal Background Check. You can hand deliver or mail your CBI fingerprint card. Both background investigations require the payment of a fee.
If you have a felony conviction recorded in Colorado or any other state, and you know that it is inaccurate, it is your responsibility to obtain the disposition information from the court where such action occurred as identified in the CBI and FBI reports. You are also responsible for providing certified copies of any criminal dispositions that are not reflected in the CBI or FBI records and any other dispositions which are unknown, by contacting the agency where such actions occurred.
Step two is to fill out the appropriate forms including the Petition for Change of Name- Adult (JDF 433). Make sure to attach your fingerprint based CBI and FBI history checks to this form. This petition must be signed in the presence of a Court Clerk or Notary Public before it can be accepted by the Court. Also, complete all sections of Order for Publication for Change of Name (JDF 426,) this will be the form the judge or magistrate signs if your petition is approved. You must also complete a Public Notice (JDF 427) form and submit it to the local newspaper that will print a published notice of the request for the name change. Finally, fill out only the caption of the Final Decree for Change of Name (JDF 448). If your petition is approved, the Judge or Magistrate will sign this decree.
Step three is to file your petition and the appropriate forms with the court. Provide the Court with the appropriate forms described above as well as the appropriate filing fee. If the petition was not previously signed in front on a notary, it will be signed in front of the Clerk at the time you turn in the forms.
Step four is to be prepared and show up for your hearing if one is required by the Court. At this hearing, you might be asked questions regarding your reasons for seeking a name change.
Step five is the requirement that you publish the proposed name change in a newspaper published in the county in which you reside. After the Order for Publication is entered, the change of name must be published at least three times within 21 days from the date of the Order of Publication in a newspaper by using the Public Notice (JDF 427) form. However, pursuant to C.R.S. §13-15-102(2) if you have been a victim of a crime, the underlying factual basis of which has been found by the court on the record to include an act of domestic violence as defined in C.R.S. §18-6-800.3; you have been the victim of child abuse as defined in C.R.S. §18-6-401; or you have been the victim of domestic abuse as defined in C.R.S. §13-14-101(2), you are not required to meet the public notice requirement.
The last step is to obtain a signed copy of the final decree for name change from the Court. In order to obtain this decree, you must give proof to the court that you published your name change unless no publishing is required under C.R.S. §13-15-102(2).
Below are some helpful links to find more comprehensive instructions on changing your name:
- Instructions for filing a Change of Name (Adult)
- Name Change-Adult Forms
- FBI Identification Record Request/Criminal Background Check
To change the name of a minor child, there are a series of steps you must take (See C.R.S. §13-15-101). The steps to change a minor child’s name are similar to the adult name change steps described above. If you are interested in changing the name of a minor, you should review the Instructions for Filing for a Change of Name (Minor) provided by the Colorado Courts. You should also review the Name Change- Minor Forms from the Colorado Courts to find the forms you must fill out and submit to the appropriate court.
The person filing the name change on behalf of a minor child must be at least 18 years old and the name change petition must be filed in the county in which the child resides. Children under 14 do not require a fingerprint-based criminal history record check, but children 14 years of age and older require the criminal history record check and this check must be conducted within 90 days prior to filing of the petition for the name change. Also, a name change cannot be filed for a child 14 years of age or older who has been adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent for a felony offense.
The Instructions for Filing for a Change of Name (Minor) provide the steps required to move through the process. The forms that are required to change a minor child’s name can be accessed through the Colorado Courts site and include Form JDF 421: Petition for Change of Name of Minor Child; Form JDF426: Order for Publication for Change of Name; Form JDF 427: Public Notice of Petition for Change of Name; and Form JDF 448: Final Decree for Change of Name. In addition, if there is both a custodial and non-custodial parent, additional forms must be completed to effect the minor child’s name change. Pursuant to C.R.S. 13-15-102(2), a child who has been a victim of child abuse as defined by C.R.S. 18-6-401 is not required to make public notice of the name change.
Driver’s License and Voter Registration Name Changes
When you legally change your name or your minor child’s name, keep in mind that you may have to change your or your minor child’s name with a variety of governmental agencies to ensure that the correct name is on all identity documents. This may include changing your name on your Colorado driver’s license.
To change your name on your driver’s license, you must go to a Driver’s License Office. You must bring documentation showing your name change (see acceptable forms of identification from the Identification Requirements). You will have to purchase another license or ID card that reflects your new name.
*PLEASE NOTE: ALL name changes MUST be on file with Social Security Office BEFORE visiting a Driver’s License office. In order to change your name with the Social Security Office, take these steps, provided by SocialSecurity.gov.
If you wish to change your name on your voter registration record, you must fill out a new voter registration paper form with the Colorado Department of State Elections Division and submit that form per its instructions.
These are just some of the places you might need to make sure that you have filed the appropriate paperwork to change your name. Keep in mind that you may also have to change your name on bank accounts, credit cards, passports, etc.