How I did it: First, I looked online for some free legal documents on how to do a name change. Then, I looked up my county's courthouse address, got my legal documents notarized and had a witness sign, and went to file my petition for name change at the courthouse (~$300).
Be careful about getting online documents and bringing them to the courthouse; when I went, they asked me to fill out their own legal forms and not something I'd printed off the internet, so that was annoying.
After you file, you get to pick a court date about two months ahead of time. The next day, I called the local newspaper's Legal advertising section (the courthouse gave me the paper's number and who to ask for, how nice!) and you set up when you'll be running your ad in the paper, since you've got to let everyone know you're changing your name. Mine ran in the paper once a week for three weeks, and that cost me $90. After they've run the ad, the newspaper will give you a certificate of publication, which is proof that you've notified the public about your impending name change, in case creditors need to know. On the day of your court date, you will need that certificate of publication, plus another document that the courthouse gives you when you file with them, which is the judgment for the change of name.
Always leave enough time for you to get to court! Bring all of your name change papers in a folder to keep them organized. Bring your debit card or cash to get a certified copy of your judgment paper after the judge has signed it. On the judgment form, there will be the room and time and date of your hearing. Get there before court begins session - just walk in those doors and sit down, don't wait outside. When the judge calls for everyone to form a line, get right up and go. When it was my turn in line, I came up to the judge, told her my first name and last name (spelling out the last name), then told her that I was here for a name change. They may ask you what line you are - that happened to me. If you don't know it, the courtroom clerk will.
Then the judge will ask you if you're sure you want a name change. Say yes, and they will ask you the standard questions: have you ever committed a felony, have you molested anyone, are you doing this to avoid creditors, etc. When you're finished answering the questions, they will tell you to pick up a certified copy of the judgment, and you're done talking to the judge. I sat back down and waited about thirty minutes for other people to present their cases, and then the clerk took me downstairs and I bought a copy from the courthouse.
Then you can begin by changing your important info - cards, memberships, etc. - you've done it! Yay!! :)
Read how I did it… 8 months ago