What's my name? No, really, what's my name?
October 20, 2011 3:35 PM Subscribe
I changed my name. Or perhaps I did not. I'm not quite sure any more, and suddenly it matters quite a bit.
From the beginning:
* I was born in Illinois with the name Frederik Quinten Jones.
* My social security card and passport say Frederik Quinten Jones.
* I got married in Illinois with the name Frederik Quinten Jones.
Then, the name change:
* I filed paperwork in Illinois to change my name to Fred Q Jones Stafford.
* I obtained a new Illinois driver's license in the name Fred Q Jones Stafford.
Then, the relocation:
* I moved to California and obtained a California driver's license in the name Fred Q Jones Stafford.
* I obtained jobs, mortgages, cars and other things using the name Fred Q Jones Stafford.
* I paid taxes under the name Fred Q Jones Stafford.
* I had children whose father is listed as Fred Q Jones Stafford.
Now, the trouble begins:
* My passport expired and could not be renewed with the new name, unless I could show proof of the name change.
* After much research, I discover that my name change petition never went before a judge (and obviously neither did I -- I was ignorant of the name change requirements) and so my name was never legally changed in Illinois!
Obviously this is problematic. Here is the information I need:
1. I have heard that in California, using a name consistently for ten years makes it your legal name. I meet this criteria, if it is true. Is it true, and if so, how do I prove it to the passport people?
2. I am going through a very amicable divorce using LegalZoom paperwork (which is why this question is anonymous, I am trying to be polite and thoughtful) and I have no idea whether I should file the paperwork using Frederik Quinten Jones or Fred Q Jones Stafford (the former is on the marriage certificate, which I have a copy of, but the latter is on my official documents and our bank accounts/mortgages.)
3. Since the answer is likely "you need a lawyer, dude" -- what kind of lawyer am I looking for? Who specializes in stuff like this? The name change issues primarily, and secondariliy how it might impact my mortgage, divorce, child custody, etc.
I don't know whether my "new" name made it to my social security records yet -- I assume so since I've successfully filed taxes under that name -- but I'm trying to dig up that information now, and in the meantime any advice given should cover both possibilities. Followup: I have confirmed with the social security office that the name Frederik Q Jones Stafford is on my social security card.