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How Do I Change My or My Child's Name?

The following information provides simple steps to change your or your child's name:

Basic Steps to Changing a Name

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. All of these steps are discussed further below.

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


Changing the Name of an Adopted Child

You may change the name of an adopted child to yours by including the request for name change in your Petition for Adoption (Maryland Rule 9-103(b)(1)(M)).

Please note: the Court does not provide adoption forms. Adoption can be a complex legal matter, and you may need an experienced attorney to handle your petition for adoption. For referrals and information about lawyers who handle adoptions, please contact the Montgomery County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service via phone at 301-279-9100 or via an online form. Should you qualify under their income guidelines, they may be able to refer you to an attorney to work for a reduced fee.

Changing Names in Connection with a Marriage or Divorce

If you wish to change your name upon marriage, just start using a new name as soon as you are married and use your new name consistently.

Change your name on all important documents and identification papers such as a driver’s license, title, and social security card. You may need to show a certified copy of your marriage certificate to change some of your papers.

There are several ways to change your name to your former name when filing for divorce:

  • As part of your divorce, you can ask the Court for an order to resume your maiden name. File a Petition for Change of Name (Adult)(PDF)(DOM REL 60) as part of your divorce.
  • If you have already filed for your divorce, you can amend the divorce papers within 30 days of being filed. Typically, the judge will ask you in the divorce proceeding if you want to return to your former name. There is no form to amend the divorce order.
  • In Maryland, consistently using your former name and changing all your personal records is enough to change your name to your former name.

Change of Legal Name of Adult (18 Years or Older)

The following instructions and form packets for change of name are available at the Family Department window:
  • Packet No. 1: Changing Your Name with Publication (Adult Only)
  • Packet No. 2: Changing Your Name with Posting (Adult Only)

Instructions and forms are also available online from the Maryland Judiciary website.

To change your legal name:
  • You must be age 18 or older and a resident of Montgomery County to file a Petition for Change of Name in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
  • Complete the Petition for Change of Name (Adult), Notice for Publication, and Order for Change of Name as directed. If you have been known by any other names, you must include all names you are known by in the Petition. Keep a copy of each form for yourself.
  • Attach proof of your current name, such as a copy of a birth certificate, passport, or driver’s license, or other documentary evidence of your current name (the name you want to change from). If your current name is different from the name on the document, you will need another form of identification. Keep a copy of each form for yourself. For more information about birth certificates, visit the Maryland Vital Statistics Administration.
  • File the Petition and other papers with the Family Department and pay the filing fee: $165.00 (cash, money order, or check payable to the "Clerk of Court." No credit cards accepted.)

Change of Legal Name of Minor Child (Under 18 Years Old)

Changing the name of a minor under 18 years old requires a signed consent from the minor or a signed Petition for Change of Name from the minor’s parents, guardians, custodians, and/or a person originally listed on the minor’s birth certificate. If any parent, guardian, and/or custodian does not consent to the name change, they must be served, and a hearing will be held before the judge.

Things to consider before filing a Petition for Change of Name of the Minor:

  • The minor must be a resident of Montgomery County to file a Petition in the Montgomery County Circuit Court.
  • Changing the child’s name will not change an existing child support obligation.
  • Child less than 1 year old: You may be able to change the child’s name without a court order. Refer to Maryland Code, Title 4. Statistics and Records, Subtitle 2. Vital Statistics and Records, §4-214 Amendments to Vital Records (§4-214.(c)(2)). More research is available on the Maryland State Law Library website.

The following instructions and form packets for change of name are available at the Family Department window: Name Change for a MINOR

Instructions and forms are also available online from the Maryland Judiciary website

To file a Petition to legally change the name of a minor under 18 years old:

  • A parent or legal guardian may file a Petition for Change of Name.
  • Each parent and person named on the birth certificate must either sign the Petition for Change of Name or send a letter consenting to the name change. If the signature or the consenting letter cannot be provided by the parent or the person on the birth certificate, he or she must be served with a copy of the Petition for Change of Name and a notice from the Court. In addition, if the person originally listed on the child’s birth certificate is not his/her current parent, you must contact the person and obtain his/her consent. The Court will check whether all these individuals and the child are in agreement with the name change.
  • Complete the Petition for Change of Name (Minor), Notice, and Order for Change of Name as directed. Keep a copy of each form for yourself.
  • Attach to the signed Petition, Notice and Order for Change of Name, each signed consent, and a copy of the child’s birth certificate or any other documentary evidence of the child’s current name (the name you want to change from). Keep a copy of each form for yourself.
  • File the Petition and other papers with the Family Department and pay the filing fee: $165.00 (cash, money order, or check payable to the "Clerk of Court." No credit cards accepted.)

Notice of Petition

There are two options for posting a petition:
  1. Posting Petition in the Court ($40 check payable to the "Sheriff’s Office")
  2. Posting Petition in the Newspaper

Posting a Petition in the Court

A Notice of the request must be posted in the courthouse for 30 days or must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in Montgomery County one time. If you wish to have your Petition posted in the courthouse, please ask the Clerk for the forms and request the judge to have the Petition posted in the courthouse for 30 days.

Posting a Petition in the Newspaper

If you wish to have your Petition published in a newspaper, ask the Clerk to arrange the publication, and the newspaper will send you a bill for publication. After you pay for the publication, the newspaper will publish your Notice of the Petition. Once the notice is published, proof of publication known as a “Printer’s Certificate” must be filed with the Court. Some newspapers will send the Certificate directly to the Court, while others will send the Certificate to you to deliver to the Court for filing.

Decree for Change of Name

Once the Court receives the proof of publication, the case will be sent to the judge to sign 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.

If no one has contested the change, and everything has been done properly, the judge may sign the Order for Name Change.

A certified copy of the Order may be requested at the Department ($5 for issuing a copy and 50 cents for each page of the certified Order, with an additional $2 if the Court is mailing you the copies).

You will need additional copies of the Order in order to change your identification to your new name—such as on your driver’s license and social security card—before you can change the name on your bank account, credit card, paycheck, with your child’s school, etc.

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