Name Ch Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes

Are common law name changes applicable in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, any person desiring to change his or her name may file a petition in the district court of the county in which such person may be a resident, setting forth:

(a)       that the petitioner has been a bona fide citizen of such county for at least one year prior to the filing of the petition,

(b)        the cause for which the change of petitioner’s name is sought, and

(c)         the name asked for.

After finding proper notice, publication, and reasonable cause for changing the name of the petitioner, it is the duty of the district court to order and direct a change of name to such petitioner. Thus, a person desiring to change name under statute and obtain judicial record of change of name must adduce evidence to satisfy court that there is sufficient and reasonable cause for change.

Nebraska’s change of name statute, outlined above, does not abrogate or supersede the common law, but affirms the common-law right by affording an additional method by which name change may be effected as a matter of public record. Under the common law, a person may adopt any name he or she wishes, without resort to any court and without any legal proceedings, provided it is not done for fraudulent purposes. A person effects a common-law change of name by usage or habit. Unfortunately, there is no specific duration of use or level of openness that satisfies the “usage or habit” requirement.

Common law name changes have the advantages of great ease and flexibility; but also the disadvantage of difficulty in verifying a name change, especially when the change occurs outside the traditional times in life, such as adoption, marriage, or divorce. While there is no requirement that any person go through the courts to establish a legal name change, the State does not have to recognize a common law name change. However, according to Nebraska statute, a person shall apply for a replacement operator’s license or state identification card within sixty days after a name change, including “a common-law name change.” The Department of Motor Vehicles, or other governmental institutions, require documentation proving that a valid name change has been made regardless if the name change was court ordered or common law. Since a common law name change does not require a court order, some other document is needed to satisfy this requirement.  An affidavit of name change may be sufficient with some government.


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