You can change your name in Massachusetts for any reason that is considered valid by the courts. Name change petitions are handled through the Probate and Family Court of the county you live in. The judge has the right to deny a name change if he decides the request isn't for legitimate purposes, such as attempting to hide from a creditor.
Get a certified copy of your birth certificate. Visit the official website of the Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services to view the options for getting a copy.
Visit the Probate and Family Court in your Massachusetts county of residence. Ask for a change of name petition.
Complete the petition. Formats vary by Massachusetts county, but all require the following information under state law: your legal name, address, date of birth and birthplace. Use your full name; you can't use initials. State the reason for the name change on the labeled spot on the petition.
Attach the certified copy of your birth certificate to the petition. File the petition in the Family and Probate Court; filing fees differ by county. The court will notify you of a hearing date by mail.
Attend the hearing. Go over your reasons for the name change before attending the hearing, as the judge has the right to ask you questions about the change before granting the order.
Tips & Warnings
- Visit the Massachusetts Court System's official website to view a listing of court locations by county.
- If changing the name of a child under 18, complete the name change petition but include the names, birth dates and birthplaces of the child on the petition. Check the court rules for the wording you must use, as you note you're presenting the petition on behalf of a minor child on the form. Both parents must give consent; if not, you must follow the court rules for notifying the other parent.
- Some Massachusetts counties require you run a legal notice in a local newspaper detailing the name change before or after you file the petition. Check the court's rules and instructions to see if you must run a notice and for how long. You may be allowed to file a form requesting a waiver of the legal notice requirements.
- Some counties run criminal background checks on persons filing a name change petition; your name change can be denied based on the results.
References & Resources
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