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Since 1999,
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Where should an application/petition for a Name Change be filed?

Answer: According to Wisconsin Statute 786.36, an application for permission to use another name must be made in the Circuit Court of the County in which the applicant currently resides. The court may grant the petition "if no sufficient cause is shown to the contrary."

Please note that according to Wisconsin Statute 786.36 section 3, there are some restrictions for people engaged in professions for which the State of Wisconsin requires a license. Unless the court deems it necessary to change a name after a hearing and finds that practicing under the changed name operates to unfairly complete with another practitioner or misleads the public as to identify or otherwise results in detriment to the profession or the public. Also, according to Wisconsin Act 52 sec. 301.47(2), people required to register as sex offenders are prohibited from changing their names.

What fees or costs are generally incurred in a Name Change proceeding?

Answer: There is a court filing fee for petition for change of name. Please check with your local county clerk for court fees. Upon filing and paying the fee, the clerk will assign a case number and judge to the case and will keep the original the original Petition for Change of Name and Order For Change of Name for the case file. The clerk's office will give you a date and time for you hearing or will give you instructions as to what to do next.

In addition to filing fees, you will also be required to pay the cost of publishing the Notice of Hearing and Order for Hearing in a local newspaper authorized to carry legal notices for your community.

What information and documentation are required in a Name Change proceeding?

Answer: You will generally be required to provide the following:
  1. Proof of date and place of birth (generally established by providing a certified copy of your birth certificate. In certain instances, the judge may permit the use of a passport, or other legal document as proof of the date and place of birth.

  2. Reason: you must provide the court with the reason for wanting the change of name.

  3. Legal Forms (petition, order, etc.). If you choose to use our service, we will utilize the information that you provide to use to prepare all of the forms required for your name-change application. Except in certain complex cases, your forms will be sent to you within three (3) business days of your order. You will receive hard copies of your forms, as well as a disk containing your forms in Word format. The following required forms are provided: Petition for Change of Name; Order for Hearing; Notice of Hearing; Order for Change of Name. We also provide easy-to-follow instructions.

  4. Additional information and documentation is required if the petitioner has a criminal record, has been adjudicated a bankrupt or has judgments and/or civil actions against him or her.
What if I want to change my child's name?

Answer: Pursuant to Wisconsin Statute 786.36, for a person under 14 years of age, the petition must be submitted by: (1) both parents, if both are living, or the surviving parent; or (2) the guardian or person who has legal custody of the minor if both parents are dead or if parental rights have been terminated by judicial proceedings; or (3) the minor's mother, if the parent's have not married, if the child is not adopted, and if paternity of the minor has not been established, or (4) one parent, if that parent has been unable to locate or serve the other parent with the petition,. If the other parent is notified and objects, and has not abandoned the child, the court will require consent of the non petitioning parent. In these situations, we will prepare a formal written consent, to be signed, notarized, and filed with the Court.

Are there publication requirements?

Answer: Yes. Publication is required by the Wisconsin Statute 786.37. The petitioner is required to directly contact a newspaper that is deemed appropriate by the court, to publish a third class notice (a notice printed once a week for every three weeks) prior to hearing date. After the publication is completed and paid for, the newspaper will mail a Proof of Publication affidavit to the petitioner. The petitioner must bring the Proof of Publication to court on the day of their hearing.

Selected Wisconsin Statutory Provisions:

Section 786.36, STATS., governing the changing of names, provides, in relevant part, as follows:

Any resident of this state, whether a minor or adult, may upon petition to the circuit court of the county where he or she resides and upon filing a copy of the notice, with proof of publication as required by s. 786.37, if no sufficient cause is shown to the contrary, have his or her name changed or established by order of the court. If the person whose name is to be changed is a minor under the age of 14 years, the petition may be made by: both parents, if living, or the survivor of them; . . . or the mother, if the minor is a non-marital child who is not adopted or whose parents do not subsequently intermarry under s. 767.60, except that the father must also make the petition unless his rights have been legally terminated.