Name Change – General – Massachusetts
Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law applicable to an action for change of name in Massachusetts, but does include basic and other provisions.
Name Change Action Allowed: In Massachusetts, a person may change their name by filing an action in the Probate Court with appropriate forms.
Who is an adult? A person who has attained the age of 18 years is considered an adult.
Who is a minor? A person who has not attained the age of 18 years is considered a minor.
Is there any reason why a person might not be allowed to change his or her name? Yes. The court must find that the requested name change is consistent with the public interest. A person is not allowed to change their name in order to avoid judgments or legal actions against him or her, or to avoid debts and obligations. A person can not change their name to defraud any person.
Must the child agree to the name change? No, but the court may consider the wishes of a child old enough to express their wishes in considering whether to grant the Petition.
Must the parent(s) of the minor agree to the name change? This is not a specific requirement of the statute, but it is not unreasonable to expect the court to require notice to any parent or guardian not joining the petition and to give that person an oppotunity to present any objections they may have to the name change petition.
Requirements for Name Change Order: For an order of name change to be granted, the court must finds sufficient reasons for the change and also find it consistent with the public interest. A change of name upon marriage, dissolution, or divorce meets these requirements.
Is Publication of a Notice Required? Yes, unless waived by the court at the request of the petitioner.
Who must be provided notice of the Petition? The General Public by way of publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
Can individuals “object” to my Petition for Name Change? Yes. Any reasonable objections made to the court may influence the court’s findings as to whether the change of name is consistent with the public interest.
Procedures: The process for obtaining a name change for an adult in the State of Massachusetts begins with the filing of a Petition with the Probate Court in the jurisdiction in which name, the name the Petitioner wishes to adopt, and the reasons for the requested change of name.
The petitioner must attach a copy of their birth record to the petition. This requirement may be waived by the court if the judge is convinced it is not available.
Unless waived by the court, the Petitioner is required to give public notice of the relief requested and the date of the hearing in a local newspaper. The court will determine how many times the notice of the petition will be published. Once the publication requirement is satisfied and proof of the publication is filed with the court.
Once the requiremnts of the petition and the noice have been satisfied the court may rule on the petition. The petition will be granted unless the court finds it not to be in the public interest.
Additonal Information and Instructions
Petitions for change of name:
A petition for the change of name of a person may be heard by the probate court in the county where the petitioner resides. The change of name of a person shall be granted unless such change is inconsistent with public interests. Mass. Gen. L. Part II. Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations, Title III Domestic Relations, Chapter 210. Adoption of Children and Change of Names, Section 12.
Notice and certificate; decree; entry; conditions precedent:
The court shall, before decreeing a change of name, request a report from the commissioner of probation on the person filing the petition and, except for good cause shown, require public notice of the petition to be given and any person may be heard thereon, and, upon entry of a decree, the name as established thereby shall be the legal name of the petitioner, and the register may issue a certificate, under the seal of the court, of the name as so established.
No decree shall be entered, however, until there has been filed in the court a copy of the birth record of the person whose name is sought to be changed and, in case such person’s name has previously been changed by decree of court or at marriage pursuant to section one D of chapter forty-six, either a copy of the record of his birth amended to conform to the previous decree changing his name, a copy of such decree, or a copy of the record of marriage; provided, that the filing of any such copy may be dispensed with if the judge is satisfied that it cannot be obtained. Mass. Gen. L. Part II. Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations, Title III Domestic Relations, Chapter 210. Adoption of Children and Change of Names, Section 13.
Each register of probate shall annually, in December, make a return to the commissioner of public health and the commissioner of probation of all changes of name made in his court. Mass. Gen. L. Part II. Real and Personal Property and Domestic Relations, Title III Domestic Relations, Chapter 210. Adoption of Children and Change of Names, Section 14.
Other Name Change References
Age of majority; legal capacity:
Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, any person domiciled in the commonwealth who has reached the age of eighteen shall for all purposes, and any other person who has reached the age of eighteen shall with respect to any transaction governed by the law of the commonwealth, be deemed of full legal capacity unless legally incapacitated for some reason other than insufficient age. Mass. Gen. L. Part III. Judicial Officers and Proceedings in Civil Cases, Title II Actions and Proceedings Therein, Chapter 231. Pleading and Practice, Section 85p.