COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – A new state law requires you to live in South Carolina for six months before you can request a name change.

Representative Rosalyn Henderson-Myers (D-Spartanburg) said, “South Carolina was becoming a haven for people to come to the state, get their name changed and they could go about their businesses back out in another state.”

Rep. Henderson-Myers said the lack of this residency requirement was brought to her attention after some judges noticed an increase in the number of people applying for name changes. She said the goal is to prevent bad actors from taking advantage of this loophole.

According to state leaders, South Carolina was the only state in the Southeast without this residency requirement. Until now.

Henderson-Myers said, “We wanted to make sure we weren’t a magnet for people who want to come to this state for reasons that may not be honorable or justifiable and leave and have a new identity.”

The new law waives the six-month residency requirement for a victim of documented domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, harassment, sexual offenses, trafficking in persons or other abuse. There are also some additional protections in place.

Under the law, name change records can be sealed if the petitioner requests it and they could be in danger if the records were public.

Rep. Henderson-Myers said, “Victims of domestic, dating violence, stalking, harassment, sexual offenses, trafficking and other types of abuse. We wanted those victims to have a fresh start and to have their new identities kept secret.”

Governor Henry McMaster signed H.3721 into law last week. The legislation passed both the House and Senate unanimously.