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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 89575
Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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I am not legally allowed to change my name because of a criminal

Customer Question

I am not legally allowed to change my name because of a criminal record. I just recently received a certified copy of my birth certificate from the state and was shocked to see my stepdad's last name listed as my birth last name! My stepdad adopted me as a minor, age 17.

My criminal record, as well as my driver's license, social security card, school records...everything is in my original actual birth name......not my stepdad's name which is on my birth certificate........I am not trying and have never tried to defraud, misuse, etc. re: my last name.

Is there any way I can correct my birth certificate (to reflect my actual birth name and always used last name) without "changing my name"?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  schollomon replied 1 year ago.

schollomon :

Corrections or changes to a birth certificate may be made in several ways. Since the birth certificate is a legal document, appropriate legal requirements must be met to make the correction or change.


Information on a birth certificate that was entered in error when the birth certificate was originally prepared by the certifier (doctor, hospital, midwife, etc.) may be corrected through an Amendment Process as specified by law. Legal documentation or a court action may be required to process the corrections requested. The birth certificate will be marked "Amended" and the information corrected will be documented on the certificate.


You may request corrections by completing a request form through your state’s Department of Vital Statistics and indicating the changes to be made to the birth certificate.


In your case, you may not be able to amend your birth certificate as it does not appear that the original birth certificate was entered in error (based on the information you provided.) Additionally, because of your criminal background, your request for an amendment may or may not be granted.


If you wish, you can file for the amendment through the Department of Vital Statistics and explain why you believe there was an error on the original certificate.

Customer:

That's such basic information! I know all of that! Answer is totally unsatisfactory.

Customer:

I know all of that. That's such basic information. You did not answer my question at all. Totally dissatisfied.

schollomon :

I apologize that you were not pleased with my answer, I would be happy to try and provide a more satisfactory answer for you.

Customer:

Sure, read and try again.

Customer:

Sorry that was curt. There is not an error on the adopted birth certificate. What options are there to correct my name? Am I even using a legal name if I am not using the name on my birth certificate? I mean, clearly it's my name because it is the name I was given at birth....but my "birth" certificate has the adopted last name.

schollomon :

You can attempt to have your birth certificate amended to reflect the last name you have always used as opposed to your stepfather's last name. You would do this through the Department of Vital Statistics and it would not have the effect of legally changing your last name. It sounds like your only goal is to update your birth certificate to reflect the name you have always used. I believe that can be done based on the information you provided. You can argue or make the statement that while your stepfather adopted you at age 17, you should not have had his last name at the time of your birth.

schollomon :

Does that make sense or does that help?

schollomon :

Additionally, paternity is a valid basis for amending or updating a birth record. If it is your birth father's last name that you have always used, you can absolutely request that the birth record be amended to reflect that last name.

Customer:

Yes, that all makes sense. When I talked to Vital Records in my state, they said I had to have my name changed since my adopted birth certificate is the only valid one ....regardless that it's my stepdad on there and not my birth dad.

schollomon :

I would contact them again and try to move up the chain if you can -- your stepdad was not legally your father at the time of your birth. Thus, his name being on your birth certificate is not accurate and you can argue that was an error. Based on the information you provided, your stepfather did not become your legal father until age 17. Therefore, you can argue that the birth record should be amended to reflect the last name you have always used.

Customer:

I was legally adopted by my stepdad and they said my name was changed (despite my objections). I had no idea then, at 17, that it changed my birth certificate. At age 19, I went to the social security office issue a social security card in my birth name....using a copy of the original birth certificate....Since then, everything's been in my actual birth name.

Customer:

Vital Records says that because of the adoption, they only recognize my stepdad as my dad. My original birth certificate is sealed and I can't even get a copy of that.

schollomon :

Ok - thank you for the additional information. So here is what I understand happened - at the time your stepfather adopted you, the birth certificate was changed to reflect your stepfather's name and the original birth certificate was sealed at that time. This is not unusual as the court typically gives the parent the opportunity to take care of this formality as part of the adoption proceeding. So unfortunately, in your case, the only way you can change or amend your birth certificate now is to legally change your name which you may not be able to do due to your criminal history. I know that is not the answer you want to hear but based on the additional information you provided, the current birth certificate is correct and reflects your legal name even though that his not the name you have been using.

Customer:

Yes that's correct. What other options do I have? Then how do I "prove" that I am the same person....with my birth certificate being in a name other than the name I use? People who get married have their marriage certificate showing their name difference.....that's the only analogy I can come up with right now.....What similar kind of options would I have?

schollomon :

Adoptees who would like to get a copy of their original birth certificate after they have been adopted and the original has been sealed by vital statistics, can typically request the original through the court that finalized the adoption. I suggest you go through the court that finalized your adoption as opposed to the office of vital statistics. This is how adoptees usually find out information about their biological parents or siblings when that information is not otherwise available to them. I know that that is not exactly what you are trying to do in this case, but I am just providing that example to show that this would be the best way to try to obtain a copy of your original, sealed birth certificate.

schollomon :

Also depending on what state you are in, you can request and obtain a court order granting the opening of a sealed file. Again, you must seek the order from the court that finalized your adoption. Then once you get the order granting the opening of the sealed file, you present that order to the department of vital statistics so they can disclose the sealed birth certificate. So, in summary, my suggestion is that you first try to obtain a copy of your original birth certificate directly from the court that finalized your adoption. Your second option is to get that court to grant you an order to open the sealed file.

Customer:

I appreciate that and that's fine, but it will be considered invalid (I've checked the laws in my state). AmdWhat type of document can I get/file/petition for (I have no idea here) to PROVE that I (Person with surname BBB) is the SAME person as is listed on birth certificate for person with surname AAA? I would need to have this official document so I can have it certified by the state.

schollomon :

If you are able to obtain a copy of your original birth certificate it would be evidence that you, person with current surname BBB is the same person with surname AAA. I understand that it may be considered legally invalid as your name was subsequently legally changed; however, it would still provide some evidence that you are the same person.

Customer:

Alright, thanks. But the courts can issue something (clearly I need an attorney to straighten this out) that affirms person surname BBB is the same as person surname AAA? Correct?

Customer:

Something that can be then certified by the state.

schollomon :

I am not aware of a document that simply affirms a person who goes by surname BBB is the same as person with surname AAA. I believe you could accomplish what you are trying to do by having a copy of both your original birth certificate and the current one. I believe that having both, along with a copy of the adoption record would absolutely accomplish showing that you are the same person.

Customer:

ol

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
I am sorry, different contributor here. The issue is that you are not trying to change your name to conceal a criminal record. In fact, the name you are trying to change to would actually match your criminal record and all of your other information. This is not really a routine name change typically forbidden for those with criminal records because it is not designed to conceal your record, which is the reason the courts are reluctant to change names of those with a record. In this type of case, you need to file a petition for name change, a copy of your birth certificate showing your adopted name and a copy of your criminal record showing the name that you are seeking to change to is matching the name on the criminal record.

This is a possible and permissible name change, since it is not to conceal your record. You are changing your name on your birth certificate to match the name you have been using all of your life and the court will order vital records to make the change to your birth certificate.


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Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thank you for understanding me! What you typed is exactly correct. Should I attempt the name change on my own or would you advise my hiring an attorney?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
I would suggest, because of the criminal record, using an attorney to get this done right quickly the first time. However, based on what you are seeking to do, the court should not deny you even with the criminal record.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 89575
Experience: Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
Law Educator, Esq. and 7 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. I will consult with a local attorney.

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
thank you.

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