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Namely, most people just want a change

Namely, most people just want a change

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Unhappy with that unwieldy moniker your parents gave you at birth?

Then change it.

You might be aware of famous name changes, such as Muhammad Ali, who was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. Or Nicolas Coppola, better known on the big screen as Nicolas Cage.

But did you know that each month 30 to 35 people in Guilford County legally change their names?

Right now about a dozen petitions for name changes, the first step in the legal process, adorn a wall at the Guilford County Courthouse.

The reasons people change their names vary.

Many want to go by their nicknames, said attorney Julie Pendleton, who recently helped Jennifer Alayne Westbrook switch to Layne Westbrook Booth.

Others want to fix mistakes on birth certificates.

Miranda Haith recently asked the court to approve new names for her sons. Keegan’s name was misspelled on his birth certificate five years ago, but Haith never got around to changing it. With his first day of school looming, Haith decided it was time to fix that error.

While she was at it, she switched 12-year-old Leon’s name to Winston, after his grandfather. Both boys have been using the right names, but they weren’t correct on their birth certificates, Haith said.

“It’s just been procrastination on my end,” she said.

Sometimes name changes make life easier. Court officials said they often see people with foreign names add or switch to an American name.

Shong Yu Chow recently changed his name to Anthony Shong-yu Chow, according to court records.

Sometimes people change names for religious reasons and others because of life changes, such as undergoing gender reassignment surgery.

A name change costs $51 and usually takes less than two weeks to complete. Most of that time is taken up by a mandatory 10-day period during which you must post your intention to change your name at the courthouse.

Once that period ends, the clerk of courts or an assistant clerk signs the order, and the new name is official.

It’s an easy process, said Haith, who filled out the paperwork on her own in lieu of hiring an attorney.

She called the courts for information and went online and to the court law library to research what she had to do.

Contact Jennifer Fernandez at 373-7064 or jennifer.fernandez


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Dakota Stevens, 27, was found unresponsive but breathing inside a holding cell about 4:15 p.m. on Monday, the Guilford County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Detention and medical staff started life-saving measures and EMS arrived about 4:25 p.m. to take Stevens to High Point Medical Center. He was later transferred to Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist in Winston-Salem where he died about 4:10 a.m. Tuesday, the sheriff's office said.

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