In Missouri, a person may change his/her name by filing a petition in the appropriate circuit court. Once filed, the court will inquire to see if the petitioner is a child or an adult (i.e., over 18).
Normally, for an adult petitioner, it must be shown that the name change is not detrimental to the interests of anyone else (e.g., a person is not allowed a change of name to escape a debt or other legal obligations). After making this showing, the petitioner must give a brief explanation of why he/she wishes a change of name. Courts usually do not place much scrutiny in this step; rather, they’re really interested in ensuring that the name change is not fraudulent. If the Court is satisfied with all of this, then it will grant the requested name change. Within twenty days of this Order, the Petitioner must publish the change of name once a week for three consecutive weeks in an appropriate newspaper or publication. This Publication is required under Missouri law.
A child seeking a name change has some extra hurdles in the way, in addition to the above requirements. Just to give an idea: the parents, and legal guardian, if any, must file written consent to the name change or proof of service must be filed with the court showing that the child’s parent or parents were served with summons and a copy of the petition at least thirty days prior to the date set for the hearing. The summons must advise the parent or legal guardian of the date and time set for the hearing.
This is just the substantive law of a name change. There are also several procedural aspects to consider, namely RSMo 527.270:
Hereafter every person desiring to change his or her name may present a petition to that effect, verified by affidavit, to the circuit court in the county of the petitioner’s residence, which petition shall set forth the petitioner’s full name, the new name desired, and a concise statement of the reason for such desired change; and it shall be the duty of the judge of such court to order such change to be made, and spread upon the records of the court, in proper form, if such judge is satisfied that the desired change would be proper and not detrimental to the interests of any other person.
Though relatively straightforward compared to other legal actions, one still has to account for several substantive and procedural concerns to change a name in Missouri.