People may desire to change their name to one that they more closely identify with for a variety of reasons. Luckily, the name-change process is relatively simple in most Tennessee cases. Challenges tend to appear when one petitions for a name change on behalf of a minor child, or when the individual referenced is transgender. Therefore, we will here discuss in general terms how to legally change your name.
In Tennessee, you must first file a Petition for your name change with the Court. In Tennessee, both circuit and chancery courts have concurrent jurisdiction to change or alter names.
To initiate a name change, you must file a petition and pay the filing fee in the county where you reside. Currently, Knox County’s Chancery Court filing fee is $216.50. The court also requires verifying information such as a social security card, birth certificate, and/or photo IDs. The required documentation may vary by county. There is no requirement involving an announcement of the name change (such as in a newspaper ad).
As a side note, people with a prior felony conviction must provide additional information. Those convicted of crimes such as first- or second-degree murder or sex offenses are not eligible to change their name.
AFTER FILING THE PETITION…
…and providing the required documentation, a hearing will be set. At the hearing, the court will reach a decision regarding the name change. In Knox County, the clerk and master will sit in on the hearing. In other counties, a judge or chancellor may oversee the process.
If the petition is granted, an order is issued requiring a new birth certificate to be issued with the new name. You may have to submit copies of that order if you wish to change other documents such as your social security card, driver’s license, and passport. You may want to request multiple certified copies. It is possible that your filing fee will include the cost of additional copies.
Name changes are one thing, but Tennessee law currently prohibits amending sex on a birth certificate. This holds true even if a person undergoes gender reassignment surgery. However, this law is currently being challenged.
Although the process to legally change your name is fairly straightforward in Knox County, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Remember that it is a very personal decision, and you have the absolute right to request a name change. If you feel unsure of yourself at any point or are wondering where to turn for advice, give Held Law Firm a call at (865) 685-4780. We’re here to help.
The information in this blog was compiled and written by attorney Melanie Hogg.