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Wisconsin Name Change Law

786.36 Changing names, court procedure.

Any resident of this state, whether a minor or adult, may upon petition to the circuit court of the county where he or she resides and upon filing a copy of the notice, with proof of publication, as required by s. 786.37, if no sufficient cause is shown to the contrary, have his or her name changed or established by order of the court. If the person whose name is to be changed is a minor under the age of 14 years, the petition may be made by: both parents, if living, or the survivor of them; the guardian or person having legal custody of the minor if both parents are dead or if the parental rights have been terminated by judicial proceedings; or the mother, if the minor is a nonmarital child who is not adopted or whose parents do not subsequently intermarry under s. 767.60, except that the father must also make the petition unless his rights have been legally terminated. The order shall be entered at length upon the records of the court and a certified copy of the record shall be recorded in the office of the register of deeds of the county, who shall make an entry in a book to be kept by the register. The fee for recording a certified copy is the fee specified under s. 59.43 (2) (ag). If the person whose name is changed or established was born or married in this state, the clerk of the court shall send to the state registrar of vital statistics, on a form designed by the state registrar of vital statistics, an abstract of the record, duly certified, accompanied by the fee prescribed in s. 69.22, which fee the clerk of court shall charge to and collect from the petitioner. The state registrar of vital statistics shall then correct the birth record, marriage record or both, and direct the register of deeds and local registrar to make similar corrections on their records. No person engaged in the practice of any profession for which a license is required by the state may change his or her given name or his or her surname to any other given name or any other surname than that under which the person was originally licensed in the profession in this or any other state, in any instance in which the state board or commission for the particular profession, after a hearing, finds that practicing under the changed name operates to unfairly compete with another practitioner or misleads the public as to identity or otherwise results in detriment to the profession or the public. This prohibition against a change of name by a person engaged in the practice of any profession does not apply to any person legally qualified to teach in the public schools in this state, nor to a change of name resulting from marriage or divorce, nor to members of any profession for which there exists no state board or commission authorized to issue licenses or pass upon the qualifications of applicants or hear complaints respecting conduct of members of the profession. Any change of name other than as authorized by law is void.

786.36 - ANNOT.

History: 1973 c. 263; 1977 c. 449; 1979 c. 32 ss. 63, 92 (14); 1979 c. 221; Stats. 1979 s. 786.36; 1981 c. 245; 1983 a. 447; 1985 a. 315 s. 22; 1993 a. 301; 1995 a. 201.

786.36 - ANNOT.

Although a woman may adopt the surname of her husband subsequent to marriage by customarily using that name, there is no common law, case law or statutory requirement in Wisconsin that she do so. If the woman continues to use her antenuptial surname, her name is unchanged by the fact that marriage has occurred. In re Petition of Kruzel, 67 Wis. 2d 138, 226 N.W.2d 458.

786.36 - ANNOT.

The state's interest in identifying a convicted felon by his current name during incarceration and while on parole was sufficient cause to deny a name change petition. Williams v. Racine County Circuit Court, 197 Wis. 2d 841, 541 N.W.2d 514 (Ct. App. 1995).

786.36 - ANNOT.

Wisconsin recognizes the common law right to change one's name through consistent and continuous use as long as the change is not effected for a fraudulent purpose. State v. Hansford, 219 Wis. 2d 226, 580 N.W.2d 171 (1998).

786.36 - ANNOT.

Although 69.15 (1) (a) provides for changing a name according to an order in a paternity action, it does not provide authority to order a name change in a paternity action without complying with the procedural requirements for a name change under s. 786.36. Paternity of Noah J.M. 223 Wis. 2d 768, 590 N.W.2d 21 (Ct. App. 1998).

786.36 - ANNOT.

Women's names in Wisconsin: In Re Petition of Kruzel. MacDougall, 1975 WBB No. 4.

786.37 Change of name, notice of application. Before applying to the court for changing or establishing a name, the applicant shall publish a class 3 notice under ch. 985 stating the nature of the application and when and where the application will be made. This section does not apply to the name change of a minor if parental rights to the minor have been terminated and guardianship and legal custody transferred under subch. VIII of ch. 48, and the minor has been placed in a permanent foster home or a permanent treatment foster home, where the guardian and legal custodian have petitioned to change the minor's name to the name or names of the minor's foster parents or treatment foster parents.

786.37 - ANNOT.

History: 1975 c. 261; 1979 c. 32 s. 63; 1979 c. 330 s. 13; Stats. 1979 s. 786.37; 1987 a. 403; 1993 a. 446.