What’s in a name? According to Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, a great deal is affiliated with a person’s name, actually. There are many reasons that someone may want to change their name; assuming a spouse’s name for marriage, reassuming your maiden after divorcing, adoption or gaining custody of a child. Though not typically common, there are many individuals who are prompted to change their name for a fresh start in life. A person’s legal name can make it difficult for an immigrant to assimilate into a new county, or someone’s legal name can make it difficult for him or her to find employment if he or she has a criminal record.

How Much Does Your Name Matter?

In a podcast by Freakonomics, “How Much Does Your Name Matter?,” Stephen J. Dubner claims that a person’s name tells society more about the individual’s parents than it does about the individual, since it is the individual’s parent(s) that chooses his or her name. Therefore, a person’s name speaks to their parent'(s) “race, social standing, even their politics.” The podcast, however, is careful to point out that a person’s name does not dictate his or her destiny. In the end, the evidence provided shows that the way parents raise their children has more to do with what sort of person their child will become.

A person’s name, however, may influence their economic and social trajectory depending on whether the individual’s name sounds mainstream or if the name sounds ethnic, in which case, a resume may be rejected as a result of discrimination. One factor that the podcast fails to consider is how a person’s name can affect them when they do have a criminal record, rather than just how their name can affect their economic future if their name sounds like it could belong to that of a convict.

How to Change Your Name in Texas?

If you are planning on changing your name in Texas, here is what you may need to know about the process:

If you are changing your name because you are recently married and want to assume the name of your significant other, then you can get a new driver’s license, social security card, as well as other important records simply by showing your marriage license.

Changing a Child’s Name to the Biological Father’s Name:
If you want to change a child’s name to that of the child’s biological father, then you can amend the birth certificate through the county clerk’s office.

Divorce and Adoption:

If you want to change the name of a child to that of a stepparent or adoptive parent, or if you are recently divorced and would like to change your name back to your maiden name, then you will need a prepared court order to legalize the name change. It is important to note that your divorce must be finalized prior to petitioning the court for a name change. Also, if there are any pending court litigations regarding a minor such as custody issues in a divorce preceding, then the child’s name CANNOT be changed.

Going to Court:

You will need a petition for name change and a prepared court order.

The petition will need to consist of the following:

  • The petitioner’s birth name, birth date, and place of birth
  • Current Address
  • Reason for the name change
  • Driver’s license numbers issued within the last 10 years
  • Requested name

Children’s petition:
A name change for a child includes all of the components of the adult petition with the addition of the following:
*Parent’s information
*Written consent of the child if he or she is over 10-years old

In addition to providing the petition, you will also need to include your complete set of fingerprints, which can be purchased through your local DPS (Department of Public Services), police station, or other local law enforcements.

Criminal History Report:
In addition to providing the court with your fingerprints, you will also need to provide any criminal records for offenses above a Class C misdemeanor.

Anyone who has been convicted of a felony or who is registered as a sex offender – sex felon – is NOT eligible for a name change.

If you are uncertain about your criminal history and what may show up on your criminal background check, you can hire legal aid to perform research for you by conducting a criminal background check. If, however, you know the name of the arresting agency and the court that oversaw your hearing, and can provide the court clerk with information pertaining to your case, then you can pay the court directly for your criminal history report.

Name Change Options for Offenders Convicted of a Felony

If you have been convicted of a felony in Texas and you want to change your name, whether the reason is marriage, divorce, or just a fresh start in life, then you may still be able to do so. If you received deferred adjudication for your felony, you may be eligible for a record sealing – also known as an order of nondisclosure. If you were charged with a felony, but successfully completed deferred adjudication, resulting in a dismissed charge, then you may be eligible for an order of nondisclosure.

Once your order of nondisclosure has been granted, you can legally say that you have not been arrested, placed on deferred adjudication, or convicted. As such, regardless of whether or not you were convicted of a felony, having your felony charge sealed through an order of nondisclosure may better your chances when petitioning the court for a name change.