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Name Changes

For those cases in which the father’s name is desired to be inserted in a child’s birth certificate, and to change the child’s family name from his mother’s maiden name to that of his father, see “Paternity Affidavits”. (LINK)

This article will deal with name changes that require court action.

The American Samoa Code, Annotated, does not contain a statute providing a mechanism for changing one’s name.  As a result, the High Court relies on the Common Law, which allows people to change their name as long as the proposed change is not for an illegal purpose, such as evading law enforcement, legal process, or creditors.

The name change process begins with the filing of a Petition for Name Change and a Notice of Hearing in the High Court. 

The Petition begins with a statement of the legal authority for its filing, A.S.C.A. §3.0208(a), which is the statute that designates the High Court as “a court of general jurisdiction with the power to hear any matter not otherwise provided for by statute.”

The Petition next states the Petitioner’s citizenship and village of residence.  It also states Petitioner’s date of birth to establish that they are an adult.

Next the Petition states the reasons for the name change and exactly what change Petitioner is requesting, for example, from Mary Smith to Mary Jones.

Next the Petition states that Petitioner’s request for name change is not for an illegal purpose, specifically, that the proposed change is not for the purpose of evading law enforcement, legal process, or creditors.  Petitioner also states that they areunaware of any legal action pending against them.

The Petition closes with a request for a hearing date (so that Petitioner may testify under oath as to the assertions in the Petition), to grant the Petition and specifying the name change, and for providing the Registrar of Vital Statistics a certified copy of the Order Granting Name Change to make an official record of the name change.

Finally, Petitioner swears to the truth of the statements in the Petition in the presence of a Notary Public who notarizes their signature.

The Notice of Hearing is returned to Petitioner with a date on which the hearing is scheduled.  Petitioner forwards it to the Samoa News to be published twice, the first publication being at least 30 days prior to the hearing.

It is not recommended that any lay person attempt to file a Petition for Name Change without the assistance of an attorney.