Changing Your Name in Iowa
Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid
There are times in our lives when we may want to change our names or the names of our children. There are steps required in order to legally change a name. In Iowa, these procedures are different for adults and children.
Name Change for Adults:
There are two ways for an adult to change his or her name. The first option depends on whether there is a pending divorce. If so, the name change of a divorcing adult can be part of the divorce proceeding. This happens most often when a party wants to return to using her maiden name. In a divorce, a person can only change his or her name back to the name that appeared on their birth certificate or to the name they had immediately prior to the marriage.
The second option for a name change for an adult is to file a petition for name change in district court. The petition must include the following information:
- the person's current name;
- a description of the person, including height, weight, hair and eye color, race, sex, place and date of birth;
- place of residence(s) for the past five years;
- reason for request;
- the legal description of all real estate in Iowa owned or in which the person has any legal interest; and
- the new name he or she wants.
A certified copy of the person's birth certificate must also be attached to the petition. If married, the petition must be served on the spouse as well. There is a filing fee of $185 to file the petition for name change. If serving a spouse is required, there will also be a service fee determined by the local sheriff. To make this process easier, a form Petition for Change of Name is available at the Judicial Branch's website. This form can be filled out and filed with the clerk of district court. This form can only be used for a name change by an adult, not to change the name of a minor child. You can get the form at: www.iowacourts.gov/For_the_Public/Representing_Yourself_in_Court/Name_Change/
A person's name may only be changed once by filing a petition for name change unless a very good reason can be given to a judge the next time. This limit does not apply to a name change in a divorce proceeding.
Name Change for Minor Children:
The name change procedure for minor children is similar to that of adults. There are two ways to change a minor child's name. The first option depends on whether there is a pending divorce action for the parents of the child or a pending custody action for the child. If so, the name change of a minor child can be part of the divorce or custody proceeding.
The second option is for a parent to file a petition for name change with the clerk of district court; the filing fee is $185. The petition must include:
- the child's current name and county where she lives;
- the new name;
- the petitioner's name and relationship to the child;
- a description of the child including height, weight, hair and eye color, race, sex, place and date of birth;
- the current address for the child; and
- every place the child has lived since birth.
The petition must also include a brief statement of the reason for the name change request. A certified copy of the child's birth certificate must be attached.
Also, if the child is fourteen years of age or older, the petition must include the child's written consent to the name change. If the child is under fourteen years old, both parents named on the birth certificate must file their written consent to the name change. If one parent does not consent, the court will set a hearing. At the hearing, the court may waive the need for both parents' consent if it finds one of the following:
- The parent has abandoned the child.
- The parent has failed, without a good reason, to support the child or contribute financially for the child's birth.
- The parent does not object to the name change after receiving proper notice.
You can get the form at:
Birth Certificate Changes for Both Adults and Children:
In order for a name change to be reflected on the person's birth certificate, a document must be filed with the State of Iowa Department of Public Health. After receiving an order from a judge changing the person's name, the person should complete an "Abstract to Change Registrant's Legal Name on Birth Certificate" and give it to the clerk of court to certify. These forms are available by calling (515) 281-4944. For people born in Iowa, these forms are sent to the Iowa Bureau of Vital Statistics. There is a $15 processing fee. People born outside of Iowa must send the form to the proper registration agency in the state of birth. Check with that agency regarding processing fees.