Name Change – General – Montana
Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law applicable to an action for change of name in Montana, but does include basic and other provisions.
Name Change Action Allowed: In Montana, a person may change their name by filing an action in the district 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.
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.
Who must be provided notice of the Petition? The General Public through publication of notice in a newspaper published in the county.
Procedures: The process for obtaining a name change for an adult in the State of Montana begins with the filing of a Petition with the Superior Court in the jurisdiction in which Petitioner resides. The Petition informs the Court of the Petitioner’s name, the name the Petitioner wishes to adopt, the place of birth and residence of the Petitioner, and the reasons for the requested change of name.
After the Petition is filed and the required fee paid, the Court will set the Petition for a hearing. During the period prior to the hearing, the Petitioner is required to give public notice of the relief requested and the date of the hearing in a local newspaper. The notice must be published once each week for four calendar weeks.
After publication is complete, the Petitioner must submit proof of publication to the Clerk of the Court. This is accomplished by filing an affidavit provided by the newspaper verifying the publication. The affidavit is attached to a copy of the published notice and filed with the Clerk.
At the hearing, if the court is satisfied there is no reasonable objection to the name change and that it is consistent with the public interest, the Court will issue a Judgment authorizing the name change.
Additional Information and Instructions
Petition for change of name of natural person:
All applications for change of names must be made to the district court of the county where the person whose name is proposed to be changed resides, by petition signed by the person and, if the person is under 18 years of age, by one of the person’s parents, if living, or if both are dead, then by the person’s guardian, and if there is no guardian, then by some near relative or friend. The petition must specify the place of birth and residence of the person, the person’s present name, the name proposed, and the reason for the change of name and must, if neither parent of the person is living, name as far as known to the petitioner the near relatives of the person and their place of residence. [Montana Code, Title 27 Civil Liability, Remedies, and Limitations, Chapter 31 Change of Name, Part 1 General Provisions, Sec.27-31-101.]
Petition for change of name of nonprofit corporation:
Any religious, benevolent, literary, or scientific corporation or any corporation bearing or using or being known by the name of any benevolent or charitable order or society may by petition apply to the district court of the county in which its articles of incorporation were originally filed or in which its property is situated for a change of its corporate name. Such petition must be signed by a majority of the directors or trustees of the corporation and must specify the date of the formation of the corporation, the name proposed, and the reason for the change of name. Upon the filing of the petition, the same procedure shall be followed as upon applications for changes of names of natural persons. [Montana Code, Title 27 Civil Liability, Remedies, and Limitations, Chapter 31 Change of Name, Part 1 General Provisions, Sec.27-31-102.]
District court jurisdiction:
Applications for change of names must be heard and determined by the district court. [Montana Code, Title 27 Civil Liability, Remedies, and Limitations, Chapter 31 Change of Name, Part 1 General Provisions, Sec.27-31-103.]
Part 2 Procedure
Order setting hearing date — notice — safety:
(1) When a petition setting out the matters contained in 27-31-101 or 27-31-102 is filed, the court or judge may appoint a time for hearing the petition. Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3), notice of the time and place of hearing the petition must be published for 4 successive weeks in some newspaper published in the county, if a newspaper is printed in the county. If a newspaper is not printed in the county, a copy of the notice must be posted in at least three public places in the county for 4 successive weeks.
(2) Publication is not required for a change of name of a minor under 27-31-101 if both parents and all legal guardians consent in writing.
(3) The court may allow a petition to proceed on a sealed-record basis when probable cause is shown that the safety of the petitioner is at risk and the judge is satisfied that the petitioner is not attempting to avoid debt or to hide a criminal record. The request to proceed on a sealed-record basis must be set forth in the petition. All papers and records pertaining to the sealed-record petition must be kept as a permanent record of the court and withheld from inspection unless the judge denies the request to proceed on a sealed-record basis. A person, other than the petitioner, may not have access to the records except for good cause shown and on order of the judge of the court in which the petition was granted. [Montana Code, Title 27 Civil Liability, Remedies, and Limitations, Chapter 31 Change of Name, Part 2 Procedure, Sec.27-31-201.]
Filing of objections to change:
At any time before such hearing, objections may be filed by any person who can, in such objections, show to the court or judge good reasons against such change of name. [Montana Code, Title 27 Civil Liability, Remedies, and Limitations, Chapter 31 Change of Name, Part 2 Procedure, Sec.27-31-202.]
Conduct of hearing:
On the day set for the hearing of said petition or at any time to which the hearing is continued or postponed, due proof of the publication or posting of the required notice as set out in 27-31-201 being made, such application must be heard. On the hearing the court or judge may examine on oath any of the petitioners, remonstrants, or other persons touching the application. [Montana Code, Title 27 Civil Liability, Remedies, and Limitations, Chapter 31 Change of Name, Part 2 Procedure, Sec.27-31-203.]
The court or judge may make an order changing the name or dismissing the applications, as to the court or judge may seem right and proper. [Montana Code, Title 27 Civil Liability, Remedies, and Limitations, Chapter 31 Change of Name, Part 2 Procedure, Sec.27-31-204.]
Other Name Change References
Minors and adults defined:
(1) Minors are:
(a) males under 18 years of age;
(b) females under 18 years of age.
(2) All other persons are adults. [Montana Code, Title 41 MINORS, CHAPTER 1 RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF MINORS, Part 1 Minority, §41-1-101.]