What Are New Mexico's Rules on Name Changes due to Divorce or Marriage?

The way name changes are handled in New Mexico depends on whether they are part of a proceeding for dissolution of marriage. No state law details how name changes are handled within dissolution proceedings. Therefore, the judge decides whether or not to grant the request. New Mexico judges handling name change requests as part of a dissolution frequently allows a party to revert back to a maiden or former name.

Outside of dissolution proceedings, New Mexico has very specific laws that govern name change requests.

The first requirement is that the person whose name will be changed—known as the “applicant”—be a resident of New Mexico.

An applicant who is at least 14 years old may request a name change. To do this, the applicant files a petition for a name change in the district court that includes the county in which the applicant resides. The petition generally must be accompanied by the appropriate filing fee.

If the applicant is less than 14 years old, a parent or legal guardian may file the petition. However, both parents must sign a consent form unless their parental rights have been terminated. If a parent will not give consent, that parent must receive a copy of the notice setting the hearing date.

Nearly always, a notice of the potential name change must be published in a newspaper of general circulation “where the application is to be made and where the applicant resides.” If there is no newspaper in the county where the applicant lives, the notice must be published in a newspaper that is printed in a nearby county that circulates where the applicant lives. The notice must be published once a week for two consecutive weeks.

The only time publication is not required is when the court specifically finds that publishing it “will jeopardize the applicant’s personal safety.” In this rare circumstance, the court will order the records sealed, only to be opened by court order.

At a hearing, a judge will grant or deny the name change request, depending on whether any sufficient reason is shown for the applicant’s name not to be changed. If the request is granted, you must notify various officials, such as the following:

  • The county clerk’s office where you live;
  • The Social Security Administration;
  • Banks and credit card companies; and
  • The Motor Vehicle Department.

New Mexico name changes can be tricky because there are very specific requirements relating to notice and publication. Contact the Lightning Legal Group today to simplify the process. We have successfully handled numerous name changes in the past, and we would be happy to help you with your legal matter: (505) 247-2390.

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