Minor Child Name Change Laws in Michigan

By Terry White

There are many acceptable reasons to change a child’s legal name. The most common are marriage, remarriage or adoption. Sometimes a birth certificate may have the name misspelled or the wrong name entirely and needs to be corrected. Perhaps paternity, unknown at birth, has been established. Whatever the reason, the legal process to change a child’s name in Michigan is simple.

Getting Started

One or both parents or the child’s legal guardian can begin the name change process by completing a Petition to Change Name form provided by Michigan’s family courts. You must have resided in the county where the court is located for a year or more and must show sufficient reasons for changing the child’s name. Name changes for purposes of fraud are not allowed. The form has a place for the signatures of the petitioner and, if applicable, the noncustodial parent. There is also space for the noncustodial parent to enter a written statement. Minors 14 and older must give written consent on the form to the name change; if under age 14, the minor can state a preference regarding the name change, which the court may take into consideration. The petition should be accompanied by the child’s birth certificate and can be used to obtain a new birth certificate with the child's new name.

Public Notice

After the parents or legal guardian file the petition in the appropriate family court, the proposed name change must be announced to the general public. Notice must appear for four weeks in a local newspaper approved by the court. This notice provides an opportunity for interested parties to inform the court of any information the judge should consider. The court will hold a hearing on the name change once the four-week notice period expires. After the judge approves the name change, the petitioner must file the order with the clerk of the court.

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Divorced Parents

The noncustodial parent must sign the petition to consent to the name change. But if the noncustodial parent hasn't met child support obligations and hasn't communicated with the child in two years, consent is not required. Consent is also unnecessary if the noncustodial parent has been convicted of child abuse or a sex crime. When you want to change a minor's name without the other parent's permission, you must initiate service of process on the other parent, either by process server or by mail. If you can show the noncustodial parent hasn't complied with a support order for two years, the court may let you skip service of process.

Age of Child

In Michigan, the age of the child is taken into consideration when the court orders a name change. If the child is 14 years old or older, no one can change that child’s name without her permission. The child must consent to the name change by signing the petition in the space provided. If the child is between 7 and 14 years of age, and the judge determines the child is mature enough to decide about a name change, the judge will consider the child’s input. No person under 18 years of age can change her name in Michigan without parental consent.

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