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Frequently Asked Questions

Changing the name of an adult begins by (1) filing a Petition and (2) requesting that the Court publish a Notice of the Petition. If no one objects to the name change, and the Court does not have questions about the Petition, (3) the judge signs the Decree for Change of Name. However, if someone has contested the name change, or if the judge has any questions about your Petition, he/she may schedule a hearing.

The total process will take approximately 2 to 2½ months from the date of filing the petition to have the final decree signed.

Additional information may be found under the How Do I Change My or My Child's Name? page.

Call the Family Justice Center at 240-773-0444. You can also call the 24-hour crisis line for assistance at 240-777-4000. The National Domestic Violence Hotline Number is 800-799-7233, TTY 800-787-3224. Visit the Domestic Violence Assistance page for a list of resources.

If you have a family case, you can visit the Family Law Self-Help Center (South Tower, 1st Floor, Rm 1500). You can also call the Montgomery County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Line at Service at 301-279-9100, Monday thru Friday, 9:00 am-1:00 pm, or its Pro Bono Program at 301-424-7651, Monday thru Thursday, 10:30 am-noon or 2:00-4:00 pm. Additional listings of attorneys for adults and children, and self-help guidance may be found on the Circuit Court website.

Circuit Courts are where jury trials are held. Circuit Courts generally handle more serious criminal cases and major civil cases. These include juvenile and other family law cases such as divorce, custody, and child support. The Circuit Courts hear most cases appealed from the District Court, orphans’ courts, and some administrative agencies. Circuit Courts also hear domestic violence cases. Cases may be decided by juries, but they also may be decided by a judge only.

The District Court in Maryland is one of two trial courts (where most cases start) in Maryland. The jurisdiction of the District Court includes all landlord-tenant cases, domestic violence/peace orders, replevin actions, motor vehicle violations, misdemeanors, return of property, and certain felonies. In civil cases the District Court has exclusive jurisdiction in claims of $5,000 or less, and concurrent jurisdiction with the Circuit Courts in claims for amounts above $5,000 but less than $30,000. The jurisdiction of the District Court is concurrent with that of the Circuit Court in criminal cases, classified as misdemeanors, and certain felonies, in which the penalty may be confinement for 3 years or more or a fine of $2,500 or more. The District Court does not conduct jury trials.

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