Massachusetts Name Change Forms – How to Change Your Name in MA

A Massachusetts name change form (Form CJP 27) is used by an adult to apply for a legal name change within the state. For minor name changes, the parent(s) or guardian(s) with legal custody of the child will file a different petition, known as “Form CJP 25.” After the applicable petition is complete, the filer must take their name change document, along with the necessary supporting paperwork and filing fees, to the Probate and Family court for submission. Name changes following marriage or divorce are very common and can be accomplished as a part of the marriage or divorce process. All other name change requests must be processed by the Probate and Family Court.

Laws – Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 46 § 1(d), and Chapter 210 § 1213

Table of Contents

Name Change After Marriage

Adopting a spouse’s surname when getting married is an American tradition and is therefore easily accomplished. When applying for a marriage license, the couple will indicate the name change on their Marriage License Application, which will be filed with the Court Clerk. After the marriage ceremony has been performed and the marriage license is signed by the Officiant, the name change will be official. At this juncture, the individual can use their marriage license as proof of a name change when they update their various records, accounts, and registrations.

Name Change After Divorce

An individual getting a divorce can revert to their surname or former married name by indicating a name change on their divorce decree. There is no extra charge for the name change as long as the subject includes the name change in the original divorce Petition/Complaint. Those who do not include the name change in the original documentation will be charged an additional filing fee ($100 at the time of this writing). In Massachusetts, an individual may only assume a previous surname as a part of divorce proceedings and must file a separate petition if they wish to change their name to anything else.

Adult Name Change (No Marriage or Divorce)

Any resident of Massachusetts who is eighteen (18) years of age or over can legally change their name as long as they are not doing so for fraudulent purposes. In order to legally perform a name change, they must file a petition with their county probate court. In this state, any person who requests a name change through the court must publish notice of the change in order to give the public the opportunity to object. The court will grant most requests without requiring a court hearing. However, if there is any objection to the name change or if the judge deems it necessary, the petitioner may need to attend the court hearing regarding their change of name.

Step 1 – Fill out Change of Name Petition

In order to file a petition with the Probate and Family Court, an individual must first fill out the Petition to Change Name of Adult (CJP 27). This form requires the petitioner to provide their current name, address, the proposed new name, and a description of why they want to change their name. Once complete, the petitioner will need to sign the form in the presence of a notary public.

Note: Certain documents may not display correctly when viewed in a web browser. These forms should be downloaded and opened with Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Step 2 – Fill out Release Request Form

The individual must proceed by filling out the Court Activity Record Information and Warrant Management System Release Request Form (CJP 34). With this document, the petitioner must indicate the nature of the court proceeding (change of name) and provide the following personal information: current name, date of birth, the last 4 digits of their social security number, and their mother’s maiden name. If the petitioner has used any aliases in the past, all names must be mentioned in the applicable area of this document.

Step 3 – Gather Documents

Before filing their petition, the individual will need to assemble the following documents as necessary:

Step 4 – File Name Change Petition at the Probate and Family Court

Once the petitioner has all of their documents in order, they may proceed to their local Probate and Family Court to file their petition and supporting documents. The court will request a criminal background check on the petitioner from the Commissioner of Probation.

Step 5 – Pay the Filing Fee

In order to file their Petition to Change Name of Adult, the petitioner must pay a fee of $150, as well as an additional $15 surcharge and, if required, a $15 fee for a Citation of Publication. Not all counties in Massachusetts accept checks or credit cards as methods of payment, so it would be pertinent to check with the county court before attempting to file a petition. If the petitioner is unable to pay the filing fee, they may apply for the court to waive or supplement the fee by filling out and submitting the Affidavit of Indigency (more information on indigency can be accessed here).

Step 6 – Publish Notice of Name Change

Unless the petitioner deliberately requested that their name change not be made public, their name change must be published in a local newspaper. This is required in order to give members of the public an opportunity to object to the name change. The court will send the petitioner a Citation for Publication that must be published in a local newspaper, which is often indicated in the citation. The citation will need to be sent via certified mail with a return receipt requested, and the publication needs to be arranged through the appropriate newspaper’s legal notice department.

Step 7 – Pay Publication Fee

The newspaper will send the petitioner an invoice for the cost of publication. These fees can cost up to $150, which the petitioner must be prepared to pay on time.

Step 8 – Receive Published Notice

Upon publication, the newspaper will send the petitioner a clipping of the published notice to use as proof of publication. Next, the petitioner will need to submit to the court the original Citation for Publication, a clipping of the published notice, the certified mail return receipt, and the petitioner’s signature indicating that they mailed and published the notice.

Step 9 – Attend Hearing

While in most cases a hearing will not be required, the judge will likely demand one if there are any objections to the name change or if the judge assigned to the case has reasonable concern surrounding the petitioner’s chosen name.

Step 10 – Judge Renders Decision

If there is no objection to the petitioner’s name change and the judge sees no legal reason to deny it, the judge will grant a decree of change of name. This court order will serve as a proof of name change by the individual to prove that they have legally changed their name. A certificate of this document may be requested for a fee of $20.

Driver’s License

Before a resident can update the name recorded on their driver’s license, they must first update their Social Security account. Once this has been accomplished, the individual can update the name on their license by visiting a local driver’s license office and presenting the following documentation:

  • Social security card (with new name)
  • Court order for name change/marriage license/divorce decree
  • Driver’s License Application (filled out, indicating name change)

The cost of updating a person’s name on their license is $25. Once the person has paid the fee, their picture and signature will be taken for their new license. The new driver’s license will either be issued onsite or received by mail.

Voter Registration

If a Massachusetts resident legally changes their name, they will need to update their voter registration information in order to vote in elections. Voter information can be updated online (through the voter registration webpage), in person, or by mail. In order to change their registered voter name by mail or in person, a resident must fill out and submit the Voter Registration Form. When filing the registration form, the voter must indicate their name change on the document and submit it by hand or mail to their city or town election office, along with a copy of a photo ID or any other recognized document that shows the individual’s current name and address.

Minor (Child) Name Change

Parents in Massachusetts are permitted to change the name of their child as long as the minor is in their legal custody. Anyone under the age of eighteen (18) is considered a minor. In order to legally change their child’s name, the parent or legal guardian must file a petition with their county court. If the minor in question is currently going through Juvenile Court proceedings, the petition must be made with that Juvenile Court. When changing the name of a minor, the court will generally be more strict than when handling an adult name change petition. For instance, they will consider the ways that the name change could affect the child and whether both parents agree to the name change. Although the consent of any other parent/legal guardian is not required by law, this factor may still be taken into consideration.

Step 1 – Fill out Change of Name Petition

To begin, the parents or legal guardians of the child must completely fill out the Petition to Change Name of Minor, indicating that they are making this request on behalf of their child. In order to complete the form, the child’s parents or guardians must provide their personal information as well as that of the child in question. They must also describe the reason for requesting that the child’s name be changed. Once all areas of the form have been filled, the parents or guardians must inscribe their signatures in the presence of a notary public. If the child is twelve (12) or older, they must also sign before a notary public to indicate their consent to the name change.

Note: Some documents may not display properly in all web browsers. In these cases, the forms should instead be opened with Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Step 2 – Fill out Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceedings

In the Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceedings, the filer must describe their relationship to the minor and any ongoing or recently concluded custody court proceedings. They must also provide the name and address of any other person who has claimed a legal right to the minor. The main purpose of this form is to indicate to the court whether the child is involved with other custody proceedings at any other court.

Step 3 – Complete the Release Request Form (If Applicable)

If the child is twelve (12) years of age or older, the filer must fill out the Court Activity Record Information and Warrant Management System Release Request Form (CJP 34). This document will be given to the court to describe the nature of the legal matter as well as provide basic personal information on the filer.

Step 4 – Fill out Juvenile Court Petition for Name Change (If Applicable)

If the child is currently being processed in Juvenile Court, the parent(s) must file a Juvenile Court Petition for Name Change with that court (instead of the Probate and Family Court). This form requires a notary acknowledgment which the father and/or mother can obtain by taking the document to a notary public and identifying themselves. Once the notary has identified the parent(s), they will provide their notary acknowledgment by putting their signature and seal on the second page of the petition. At this juncture, the Juvenile Court Petition for Name Change can be filed with the Juvenile Court.

Step 5 – Notify the Other Parent

If both parents do not live together, the parent filing the petition must send the other parent a copy of the petition by certified mail with a request for a return receipt upon delivery. Once the document has been delivered, the post office will send a green card to the filer which must be delivered to the court. In the event that the other parent’s address is unknown, the petition should be sent to their last known address. If notice cannot be delivered, the returned envelope should be filed, unopened, with the court.

Step 6 – Gather Documents

Next, the filer will need to compile the following documents, as applicable, to be filed with their county probate court:

  • Petition to Change Name of Minor
  • Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody
  • Court Activity Record Information and Warrant Management System Release Request Form (if applicable)
  • Certified copy of minor’s birth certificate (obtained from the town or city clerk or the Registry of Vital Statistics)
  • Certified copy of adjudication of paternity/voluntary parental acknowledgment (for children born outside of wedlock)
  • Proof of notification for the other parent (evidence of receipt/unopened certified mail)
  • Certified copies of any other prior name change documents (if applicable)
  • Death certificate of deceased parent or guardian (if applicable)

Step 7 – File Name Change Petition at the Probate and Family Court

Once the required documents have been collected and completed, they must be filed with the Register of Probate of the Probate and Family Court in which the petitioner resides.

Step 8 – Pay the Filing Fee

The person filing the petition will be required to pay a filing fee to the Probate and Family Court. At the time of this writing, filing fees are set at $150 with an additional $15 surcharge and, if publication is requested, a $15 fee for the Citation of Publication. If the petitioner cannot pay these fees, they may file an Affidavit of Indigency with the court in an attempt to have them waived (this webpage provides more information on the subject).

Step 9 – Publish Notice of Name Change

If one (1) of the parents has not been given notice of the name change and/or has not given their consent, a notice of the minor’s name change must be published in a local newspaper (unless the judge deems it unnecessary). The Citation of Publication, which will be given to the filer, will direct them as to where, when, and how they must publish the notice of name change.

Step 10 – Pay Publication Fee

After submitting a notice of name change for publication, the filer will receive a publication invoice from the newspaper which must be paid before the petition can proceed to a court hearing.

Step 11 – Receive Published Notice

Upon publication, the filer will obtain the published notice of name change to be submitted to the court as proof of publication. This document, along with the original Citation of Publication and the return receipt postcard, must be filed with the court.

Step 12 – Attend Hearing

If the filer’s attendance is required at the court hearing for their petition, they will be given notice of the court date by the Probate and Family Court. The judge will review the petition and take into account whether or not all parents and/or legal guardians have given their consent. Ultimately, the judge will make the decision based on the minor’s best interest.

Step 13 – Judge Renders Decision

If the judge approves the petition, they will issue a certificate of the new name to the parent to use as a demonstration of proof that the child’s name has been legally changed.