Here's what to expect if you hire me to assist you with your name and/or gender change:
Mostly online process. Most of the process is done online so there is no need to risk your health or safety to meet in person, and most of the court hearings are being conducted virtually, if a court hearing is even required (in most courts they are not required for name or gender change requests).
Secure client portal. When you interact with me online, in addition to email/voice/text, you can do so through my secure client portal, called Clio. The portal allows us to upload/download/share documents, send secure messages, and share notes. You can also access and pay bills in the portal.
The portal currently comes in 2 options. Click the links to learn their features and how to use them.
- Clio Connect: Browser-based web portal (good for desktops), or
- Clio for Clients: Mobile app (good for phones/tables).
You will have access to the portal only after I share the first item from your matter.
Let's Get Started. When you are ready to start your name and/or gender change process with me, I will email you links to the following items:
- Name/gender intake form. This is an online intake form that you can complete on your computer, smartphone, or other mobile device.
- Fee Agreement. After I review the intake forms, I'll create a fee agreement that you can review online and e-sign. I'll e-sign it after you and then you'll receive a fully signed digital copy.
- Online Payment. With the fee agreement in place, and after answering any questions you have, I'll send you an online payment request that you can pay with a debit/credit card. If you prefer to mail a check or money order, that will be fine. These funds will go into my client trust fund account which takes a few days after you make the payment. If you need to make multiple payments at different times, that is fine too. After the balance is paid, I will begin drafting your court documents.
Sometimes I will speak with clients ahead of time, and if they are interested in hiring me, I will usually send the links for all three items above in one email. That way it's easy to keep track of the intake form, fee agreement, and payment. When all 3 items are submitted, I will start drafting the court documents.
Drafting your court documents. After your payment is completed, I will draft the court documents and any necessary paperwork and upload it to the client portal for your review.
When you approve the documents and provide the required notarized affidavit (only 1 is required for a name change, 2 are required for a gender change), I will e-file the documents with the appropriate court and communicate with the judge's office during the process and keep you in the loop. If the judge signs the order, I will obtain 3 certified copies for you from the clerk' office.
For additional fees, depending on what you need, I can create individualized instructions on how to update your Social Security record, driver's license, and birth certificate, including certificates of birth abroad, and how to obtain/renew a U.S. passport. If you were born in another county, I will help you update the name/gender marker on your naturalization document or green card to the extent that is possible given your situation.
I will mail the 3 certified copies and the instructions to you, and I will also make a digital copies available to you in the client portal.
So how much does this cost?
For Name Change Only services:
- Attorney Fee: $495
- Court Filing Fee: $185 for electronic filing counties, otherwise $165
- Total Fee: $660-$680
For Gender Change Only, or Name & Gender Change:
- Attorney Fee: $545
- Court Filing Fee: $185 for electronic filing counties, otherwise $165
- Total Fee: $710-$730
For Identity Document Instructions (choose what you need):
- Base fee to create instructions: $100
- Arkansas Regular & REAL ID / Enhanced Security Driver's License: +$25
- Social Security Card and Record: +$25
- U.S. Passport: +25
- Birth Certificate (U.S. State or U.S. Federal): +$25
- Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization: +$50
Are there any other costs?
If there is a hearing required by the court after we file your petition, then my hourly fee of $280 would kick in...but since most hearings are virtual these days, I would work with you on the additional cost. I doubt it would be more than 30 minutes of total time to arrange for, prepare, and conduct the hearing. So you'd be looking at around $150 if that happened. It is unlikely, but possible. Please note that if a hearing is required, it is preferred that the attorney of record attend the hearing. It would not be a good practice for me to let you attend the hearing by yourself.
During the time takes to update your identity documents provided in the instructions I give you, you may reach out to me with any questions without any additional cost. For example, if you update your Social Security record right way, you can contact me for help. If you decide to wait and update your birth certificate after a year, or your passport after 2 years, you can call me with any questions you have and there is no extra charge.
How longs does the process take?
After the intake form, fee agreement and payment items are submitted, it typically takes me a few days to draft your court documents. You will need to allow for time to review the documents I draft for the court.
You will also need to allow time to have one or more of the documents below signed and notarized:
1. Petitioner's Affidavit. For name changes, there is an affidavit that you will need to get notarized, which means you'll need to sign it in front of a notary public and they'll sign and stamp it with their notary seal. So you will need to allow time an plan for this. Until the end of May 2021, for clients in Arkansas, I am able to notarize your documents by video conferencing apps, such as Zoom or Skype. At the end of May 2021, the Arkansas Governor may extend this option through executive order due to the current health pandemic.
If I notarize the document for your by video conference, you will need to mail the document to me so that I can sign and stamp it. If you have the document notarized on your own, then you only need to send me a copy of it, preferably a scanned PDF. You can email this file to me or you can upload it to the secure client portal. You can also fax the document to me. You'll need to hang onto the original in case the judge asks to see it, but usually this isn't required. If you mail the document to me then I'll e-file a copy of it and return the original signed document to you.
2. Physician's Affidavit (only for Gender Change). This document is not needed for name changes only. But for gender changes, there is an affidavit that you will get notarized (similar to the one for name changes), and there is another affidavit that will need to be signed by your primary care doctor or the surgeon who performed gender-affirming surgery and they will need to have this document notarized. So you will need to allow time for this process to be completed. Sometimes it can take a week or more for the doctor to return the notarized affidavit.
3. Physician's Certification Letter. If you are only filing for a name change, and you can't update the gender marker on your birth certificate (see below), you can still update the gender marker on your Social Security record, your AR driver's license or ID card, and your first-time or renewed U.S. Passport. This document is not needed if you are filing for a Gender Change as well (meaning that you have had some form of gender-confirming surgery). I will provide this letter to you after your name change order has been signed by the judge; we do not need it to file your name change.
After I have all of the court documents ready to be filed, I will electronically file them with the court. After your case is e-filed, it will usually go smoothly and we can expect a judge to sign the order anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks. Typically it is not more than 1 week.
What's the difference between a Name Change petition and a Gender Change petition?
If you were born in a state that requires that your sex is changed by surgical procedure, then you will need to file a Petition for Change of Gender with a court in your birth state in order to update the gender marker on your birth certificate. So if you were born in Arkansas, and you've had gender-confirming surgery, you can file a gender change petition so that you can update the gender marker on your Arkansas birth certificate. If you also want to change your name, then we can file a Petition for Change of Name and Gender.
In some situations, you won't need to file a Petition for Change of Gender to change the gender marker on your birth certificate:
- You were born in a state (Arkansas, for example) that requires that your sex is changed by surgical procedure and you have not had this procedure. You would not be able to update the gender marker on your birth certificate until you can show proof of surgery. You can still file a name change petition here in Arkansas, and we can get the gender marker updated at Social Security, on your AR driver's license or ID card, and on your first-time or renewed U.S. Passport. The standard to change your gender marker at these other agencies is less stringent that the birth certificate rule and only requires proof of appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.
- You were born in a state (California, for example) that does not require surgery but instead requires that you have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition . If you were born in a state that does not require surgery to update your birth certificate, you will need to follow the instructions by your birth state's health department or vital records rules. I will provide these instructions to you, and in some cases will help you by pre-filling out the forms.
I can help you. I have been helping people be successful with these matters for over 11 years since 2009. I would be happy to help you. Let me know if you have any questions based on this information and/or if you'd like to get started.
No Charge for 15 Minutes: There is no charge to talk with you for 15 minutes about your name and/or gender change needs.