August 26, 2022

Benefits of Hiring an Attorney to Handle Name Changes

At Michael & Russell, PLLC, we understand that a person’s name is more than just a first, middle, and last. It is an identity, a personality, a sense of belonging, and a feeling of safety. Over the years, our attorneys and legal team have been honored to help facilitate name changes for clients. While the reasons for wanting or needed a name change vary, we are committed to providing our clients with the legal guidance needed to meet their goals.

While name changes can sometimes be handled independently without the help of an attorney, there are many benefits to involving a professional in the process. With a combined 25 years of experience, our co-owners, attorneys Ashley Michael and Ashley-Nicole Russell, are skilled with petitioning the court for the changing of a name. Over the years, we have assisted clients with legal name changes for a variety of reasons including protection of privacy, changing marital status, gender transitions, and adoptions. We also have experience correcting errors made by others, such as the Registrar or Vital Records, during the initial naming process.

There are plenty of other reasons to want a name change or correction for yourself or for your child. In the State of North Carolina, only an adult or an adult on behalf of a minor child can seek a name change.

Many people find that hiring an attorney is especially important when it comes to filing complex paperwork, ensuring the correct documentation, and bringing changes to the court system to accept the change. The Michael & Russell legal team can serve as a resource and guide throughout the entire process from fingerprinting and criminal record checks to filing the petition and signing the proper documents. Here are some of the top reasons why hiring an attorney is beneficial for name changes:

You Value Convenience and Efficiency

With our wide-ranging experience in family law in North Carolina, we can quickly and efficiently assist with the name change process. There are many steps to this type of legal request and our knowledgeable legal staff is able to streamline process to make it as easy as possible while saving you time. We handle all the paperwork, documentation, and reporting, so you don’t have to worry about missing a step or forgetting a form. We’ll give you a list of everything we need and all the steps you need to take so all you have to worry about is making it official.

We’ve worked with many clients who have attempted to handle the name change request on their own at first, but then came to us because their first request was denied by the court. Typically, in those cases, there was a document that was incomplete, a unique situation was present that needed additional information, or it was improperly filed. Hiring an attorney to assist from the beginning can often save money in the long run since it will be done correctly – and proficiently – the first time around.

You’re Changing a Minor’s Name

When dealing with the name change of a minor, there is added complexity. For parents who are adopting a child and needing to change their name, utilizing the services of a skilled adoption and family law firm is often recommended. (You can read more about adoption and name changes by clicking here to read a previous blog.) Our legal team can also help with obtaining a new birth certificate after the adoption decree and guide you through the process with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and Office of Vital Records.

There are plenty of other reasons why you may be interested in changing your child’s name and/or the spelling of their name. No matter how small the change, there is a formal process to follow that includes paperwork through the state. We’ve worked with every type of change from rearranging letters or correcting a spelling error to adding/removing a middle name or replacing a last name. Oftentimes, hyphenated names (-) and cultural references with a tilde (~), accent grave (`), umlaut (¨), or cedilla (¸) are lost during the Registrar process at the hospital. The same error can happen with Vital Records when typing up the original birth certificate. While this can be a frustrating realization as a parent, it can be corrected with an attorney’s help.

When it comes to changing a minor’s name, typically both parents need to agree to the change. However, if a biological parent is out of the picture, there are ways that one parent can make the decision through additional steps. Our attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced when dealing with these types of situations and will guide you through each legal step.

You Want Additional Privacy

If you’re looking to change your name due to privacy concerns, an attorney can not only guide you through the process but also help to ensure your confidentiality. This is often the case when we work with clients who have experienced domestic violence, harassment, or trauma. We can help to keep your information safe and secure so your new identity is protected and private during the process. Plus, once you are established as a client, we keep your information confidential and we value our attorney-client relationship. Our experienced team can also provide guidance on other legal needs and matters involving family law.

It’s important to note that we cannot assist with name changes if you are currently facing charges or criminal accusations as it is illegal to change a name during those types of legal proceedings. This is one of the reasons why adults who are seeking a name change must submit their fingerprints for a state and national criminal history records check.


We’re Here to Serve as a Resource

Our experienced legal team can take the stress and uncertainty out of the name change process for you or your minor child. Michael & Russell, PLLC has more than two decades of combined experience helping individuals with name changes. In addition to facilitating the often complex and complicated process, our attorneys are committed to helping you make informed decisions in a safe space and judgment-free zone. Through our New Hanover County office, we are dedicated to providing family law services to all of southeastern North Carolina.

If you’re interested in scheduling a consultation with Michael & Russell for name changes or another type of adoption, family law, or collaborative law service, please reach out to our Wilmington-based legal team. You can contact us directly by phone at 910-255-5722 to learn more about scheduling a confidential and private consultation for your family law needs.