Cuyahoga County Adult Name Change Application
You can use this form to request a legal name change in Cuyahoga County Probate Court.
Learn more about changing your name in Ohio.
If you want to change your legal name, you must meet the eligibility requirements:
- Residency. You must be a resident of the county where you are requesting your name change for at least 60 days.
- Reason. You must have a valid reason to change your name (this can include personal preference). If your reason is to avoid debt or other obligations, you cannot change your name.
- Financial status. You cannot change your name if you are a named debtor in a pending bankruptcy. You will need to wait until the bankruptcy case is over.
- Criminal record. You may be unable to change your name if you are on a sex offender registry or if your criminal record includes a conviction, guilty plea or adjudication for identity fraud, sexual offenses or crimes victimizing a child.
The process and forms are different if the name change is for a minor under 18 years old. Visit the name and gender change resources from Equitas Health to learn more about minor name changes.
- Get the forms. Click "Download and fill out form" on this page to get the forms for Franklin County.
- Ask about the fees. Ask how much the filing fee is. Typical fees are about $100 to $150. Each court decides its own fee. Some counties require you to request and pay for a BCI background check, too.
- Gather your identification and supporting documents. You must submit copies of a valid (unexpired) identification like a driver’s license, state-issued ID card, or passport. The court will also ask for any available proof of your reason for the name change. Proof of your reason could include documents like a marriage certificate, divorce decree or signed statement from your gender-specialist doctor.
- Complete the forms. Carefully complete the required forms. If the form asks for your “present name,” write your full current legal name (including your full middle name, if you have one). List the reason for your name change. You can use language like:
- “This is my preferred name, and I want to obtain proper identification,” or
- “I have used [name] for [number] years and it conforms to my gender identity,” or
- You may share another reason.
- Get the paperwork notarized. The completed paperwork must be signed in front of a notary and notarized.
- File your paperwork at the Probate Court. When you file copies of your supporting documents and identification, ask the clerk if you may “redact” or black out sensitive information like your social security number, driver’s license number, or account numbers. The court may require an unredacted original to verify your documents’ expiration dates.
Preparing for a hearing
The law says the court may choose to hold a name-change hearing. Your county may always hold a hearing, or your county may choose not to hold the hearing. A judge or magistrate may schedule a hearing if they need more information about your case.
If the judge or magistrate schedules a hearing, the court may require you to publish a notice of the hearing in a local newspaper at least 30 days before the hearing. You are responsible for publication costs paid to the newspaper. Ask the Probate Court clerk if you need to publish notice before paying the publication costs.
If publishing your name change in the newspaper would risk your safety, you can add a confidentiality request form to your application. To be eligible for confidentiality, you must show proof that a public name change puts you in danger.
If you request a confidential name change, the court may schedule a separate confidentiality hearing. At the confidentiality hearing, you must show evidence proving that a public name change puts you in danger. If the confidentiality request is approved, the name change hearing is not published, and the court records are sealed. Check your Probate Court’s website for the confidentiality request form for your county.
Attend the hearing
If the court schedules a hearing, you must attend it to continue the name change process. The hearing may be in person or held remotely by telephone or videoconference. Be sure to bring or have available:
- Copies of your application forms. Bring copies of your name change application forms.
- Your photo ID. Bring your valid photo identification.
- Other documents your county requires. Bring any documents your county requires. Requirements may include a certified copy of your birth certificate, proof of your published hearing notice or other documents.
On the day of your hearing, go to the Probate Court and wait in the assigned courtroom or hallway until your case is called. If your hearing is held remotely by videoconference, make sure you have the sign-in information, and sign in early so you have time to fix any technical issues. If you don't have a computer or another way to attend a videoconference, ask the court if you can attend in-person or by telephone.
At the hearing, answer the judge’s questions respectfully and truthfully.
If you have any problems at the hearing, ask the judge if you can talk to a lawyer. The judge may approve or deny the request.