Benjamin T. Ballou | Hodges & Davis Law Firm Northwest Indiana

In the recent case of In re the Name Change of Jane Doe, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that state law does not require that a person seeking a name change prove United States citizenship.

At issue in the appeal was the petition of Jane Doe and R.A.C. (petitioners) to change their legal name pursuant to Indiana Code § 34-28-2. The trial court found that it could have easily granted their request, but for petitioners’ lack of United States citizenship. The trial court interpreted I.C. § 34-28-2-2.5(a)(5) to require proof of citizenship in order to grant a name change petition.

The Court of Appeals disagreed with the trial court’s interpretation of the statute. It determined that requiring proof of citizenship conflicted with “the history of liberally allowing non-fraudulent name changes in Indiana.” The Court of Appeals opted to interpret the statute broadly, and allow name changes unless there is evidence of fraudulent intent.

The statute requests that a name change petitioner produce certain information. Among those are: date of birth; current address; a driver’s license; a list of previous names; proof of citizenship; and a passport. The Court of Appeals interpreted the language of the statute to be permissive. In other words, if a person is unable to provide certain information, they are not required to provide it.

So what is the practical effect of this recent decision?

First and foremost, one need not be a United States citizen to legally change his/her name. The decision creates wide latitude for persons who wish to change their name. Indeed, a petitioner need only show that they lack a fraudulent intent for the name change, and a court should grant the petition.

The predicted effect of this ruling is that if a person wishes to change his/her name, the amount of required personal information is limited under the Court’s interpretation. So for people who wish to change their legal name, only the information that is available to them must be provided.


This article is a brief summary of the Indiana Court of Appeals’ recent decision in In re the Name Change of Jane Doe. The information provided does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney/client relationship. If you have any questions regarding the contents of this article, please contact Benjamin T. Ballou or Carl J. Hall.


Hodges & Davis- May 2020

At Hodges and Davis, we continue to review how to balance client service and safety in this most unusual year. As you are probably aware, most of the state entered Phase 3 of Governor Holcomb’s plan for reopening the State, and Lake County will soon follow. While we are encouraged by recent developments, the safety of our clients, team and community is very important to us.

Although we have modified and limited in-office activities, our office has remained open and staffed, and we have also utilized remote workspaces and technology to continue to serve our clients and community. Our Lake County office will remain operational from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and our Rensselaer office will remain operational Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to noon, and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Additionally, our Portage office will be available for “curbside” meetings, as needed.

Hodges and Davis will continue to limit certain in-office activities, including client meetings, until at least June 14, 2020. Consistent with our office policies since March, we are asking that our clients continue to refrain from visiting our offices without making prior arrangements. If necessary, we are scheduling meetings, including “curbside” meetings, for the execution and exchange of documents on a case-by-case basis. We encourage you to contact us to discuss your needs, so that we can promptly address them. We will reassess our operational policies in the coming weeks, based on new developments and information.

We hope that everyone remains safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we find new ways to interact while remaining committed to serving you.

Hodges and Davis, P.C. – May 2020