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Basic Procedures:

Name Change petitions are filed in the circuit court of the county in which you reside. The name change process begins with filing a petition, together with a civil cover sheet form that is provided to you by the court.

The basic procedures for name change petitions in Arkansas are set forth in Section 9-2-101 of the Arkansas Code:

9-2-101. Name change - Procedure.

  1. Upon the application of any person within the jurisdiction of the court, the circuit court shall have power, upon good reasons shown, to alter or change the name of the person.
  2. When application is made to the court under this section, it shall be by petition in writing embodying the reasons for the application.
    1. When allowed, the petition shall by order of the court be spread upon the record, together with the decree of the court.
    2. An appropriate order, as prescribed in this subsection, may be made by a circuit judge in vacation. This order shall have the same force and effect as if made at term time.

Legal Standard for Adult Name Change Petitions:

The courts in Arkansas apply a liberal standard in deciding whether to grant your petition for a new name. In a reported decision (Horton v. Horton), the Arkansas Court of Appeals has explained that a name change petition should be granted unless there is evidence that it is being sought to perpetrate "fraud, misrepresentation or interference with the rights of others."

Horton v. Horton, 92 Ark. App. 22 (2005): Furthermore, our name-change statutes, Ark. Code Ann. §§ 9-2-101 and 102 (Repl. 2002), place no condition on a name change other than that "good reasons" be shown. In fact, our name-change statutes are merely supplementary to the common law, see Stamps v. Rawlins, 297 Ark. 370, 761 S.W.2d 933 (1988), which provides that an adult has the right to change his or her name absent fraud, misrepresentation, or interference with the rights of others. See generally 57 AM. JUR. 2D Name §§ 2, 16 (2d ed. 2001); 65 C.J.S. Names § 21 (2000).

In most cases, the court will primarily focus on the stated reason that you give for your name change. The petition that you file with the court includes a space where you state the reason why you are asking for permission to use a new name.

Legal Standard For Name Change Petition Filed on Behalf of a Child:

The factors considered by the Arkansas courts for evaluating whether or not a child's name may be changed were discussed by the Arkansas Supreme Court in the case Poindexter v. Poindexter:

Poindexter v. Poindexter:

In determining whether a name change is in the child's best interest, the circuit court should consider the factors established in Huffman v. Fisher, 337 Ark. 58, 987 S.W.2d 269 (1999); when considering the factors in Huffman that refer specifically to the child's surname, the circuit court should substitute the word "name" for the word "surname"; thus, in cases involving disputes over a child's first name or middle name, the circuit court, in determining the child's best interest, should consider at least the following factors: (1) the child's preference; (2) the effect of the change of the child's name on the preservation and development of the child's relationship with each parent; (3) the length of time the child has borne a given name; (4) the degree of community respect associated with the present and proposed names; (5) the difficulties, harassment, or embarrassment that the child may experience from bearing the present or proposed name; and (6) the existence of any parental misconduct or neglect.