Although a name change may often seem like the right thing to do, it is worth being careful when it comes to applying for a name change. If you are changing it after marrying, or changing it back after a divorce, then there is no reason not to proceed so long as you are happy with your choice. Equally, if you are changing your name as a result of naturalization as an American citizen, or formalizing the name that you took upon religious conversion, then there is every reason to proceed with your decision. There are, however, cases in which your name change may be rejected, and others in which you might regret it. There is therefore plenty of reason why it is essential to think long and hard before changing your name.
For one thing, your name change petition is going to have to be ratified by a judge, and there is little desire on the part of the court to formalize frivolous name changes. It is in the judge’s discretion to uphold or reject a name change petition should he or she feel that there are reasonable grounds for doing so. This means that – as amusing as it may seem at the time – changing your name to “Superman” or “Luke Skywalker” may not come off as you had hoped it would. As long as the change is relatively harmless there is a chance that a judge may green light it, but remember it is in the hands of the judge, so you may be well advised to have a reasonable explanation for your request. Have a look at changing your name online for more info on this.
As it costs a lot of money to change your name, you need to decide whether the process is worth bothering with. Particularly as it costs money to get the forms in the first place – so even if your petition is rejected by the judge you will still be out of pocket. It is a matter of balancing the importance of having the name you choose against the time and money invested in making the change. If your name change will help your business, for example, then as long as it is rubber-stamped it is worth bothering with. Equally, if you have the money to spend and just fancy something different, then as long as you can justify your request legally.
Changing one’s name for malicious reasons is, however, not allowed. If your neighbor has done something to raise your hackles and you want to give him what for, then you will need to look at other legal approaches for this purpose, because changing your name to “[Neighbor’s Name] Is A [Term of Abuse]” is considered malicious and will be instantly junked by the court. Equally, changing your name to incorporate a term of racial, homophobic, religious or other such abuse is not going to be accepted. Changing your name for the purposes of impersonation is, again, not likely to pass, so the chances of making mischief by changing your name will be heavily restricted. Essentially, if you are planning to change your name, make sure it is for the right reasons.