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If someone lives their entire life under the assumption that their name is X, and suddenly finds out that their name is Y, are there serious halachic ramifications that can result?

More specifically, what is the effect with regards to:

  • Any halachic documents that refer to them (e.g. a Kesubah or Get)
  • Any halachic documents that refer to their children (i.e. child ben X)

And what are the future ramifications as well? Does the person continue using his old name? Does he switch now?

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You mean he found out the name he was given at a brit milah/zeved bat/etc.? Do those really have any chalot? I always assumed your name is your name because it's what people call you. Do baalot teshuva get an official name designation when they return? I doubt it. – Double AA Feb 23 '12 at 1:19

The easiest solution in this case would be to change the name to match what it always was. This begs the new question as to whether there exists a halachic mechanism for changing one's name.

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And what about everything that happened before? Is it all invalid? – yydl Feb 23 '12 at 0:54
AIUI, the halachic mechanism for a name change is basically that people refer to him or her by that name for 30 days. (Will have to find a source.) – Alex Feb 23 '12 at 1:22
R' @Alex, welcome back. Got a source for us? – Seth J May 8 '13 at 12:31
@SethJ: thanks. Turns out it's not so simple; sometimes 30 days are needed, other times not. Here's a rundown of the various cases and opinions. – Alex May 8 '13 at 14:20

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