Maryland Name Change FAQ
- Does your kit provide me with all the required forms, information and filing instructions?
- How does your Document Preparation Service work?
- If I choose to purchase the Document Preparation Service, will I still have to contact all entities to amend documents, for example, passport, driver's license, etc. Or will those changes be submitted for me through this process for Document Preparation?
- General Summary of Name Change Laws
- Overview of Process in Maryland
- What are some of the most popular reasons for a person changing his/her name?
- Can I change my name to any name I want?
- What are the fees involved with a name change application?
- How long will the entire application for change of name take?
- Can the entire procedure take place online or will a court appearance be necessary?
- If I was born in Florida but have since moved to Maryland, in which state should I file my application for change of name?
- I am only interested in changing my first name. Do your forms apply to this circumstance?
- Do I need to go through the court ordered procedure if I am only correcting my first and/or middle name(s)?
- My child is younger than one year old, do I still need to file for a name change?
- Are your name change forms appropriate if I have recently married?
- Are your name change forms appropriate in adoption proceedings or paternity actions?
- In your notes regarding this service it states that if someone has claimed bankruptcy, they should consider contacting a lawyer. I filed for bankruptcy but have been discharged for 5 years. Should I still consider using a lawyer or is it ok to use this kit or service?
- If the paternal father's name isn't on my stepdaughter's birth certificate do we need to notify the paternal father of our petition?
- What if someone files an objection to my request?
- What if the request to change my name is denied?
Our State-Specific Name Change materials contain more than just the needed forms. Our staff reviews state statutes, laws, regulations, and requirements when developing our forms. Detailed instructions are included with each package. Within that text is always a recommendation that our customers contact their local court clerk to ensure that all necessary forms have been obtained. Our forms are State-Specific. We recognize however that local laws vary -- not just from state to state, but even from county to county. We make every effort to ensure that our legal forms are as comprehensive as possible -- County and Courthouse variation information however is not always readily available to our staff. Also, we cannot promise any of our customers perfection -- only our best efforts. Your local jurisdiction may require forms or papers that we have missed. More often than not, if something is missing from a form set, it is usually a single form or county cover sheet. These missing forms are usually available from the local court clerk.
Our Document Preparation Service requires that you complete an online Questionnaire. Your responses on the Questionnaire will then be used to prepare the documents. If our staff requires additional information, or if you fail to answer the required questions, our staff will contact you. The prepared forms, with further instructions, will be returned to you as an attachment to an e-mail within a few business days (assuming we do not need additional information from you).
This service cost $69.95 for an Adult or Minor name change. Our fee includes the preparation of the forms and delivery of the forms in a data format. Paper or disk copies of the forms can be mailed to you for a small additional charge. Other charges which may become necessary in the filing of any legal document with a court could include: filing fees, postage for certified mailings, fees associated with the signatures and seals of a Notary Public, publication fees and service of process charges. These fees and charges are the responsibility of the Petitioner, not our company.
If I choose to purchase the Document Preparation Service, will I still have to contact all entities to amend documents, for example, passport, driver's license, etc. Or will those changes be submitted for me through this process for Document Preparation?
Once the forms have been delivered, you will have further steps to take. Our service does not include any notarization of forms. Likewise, we do not file your papers with any court or assist with other requirements, such as service or publication procedures. While we do provide a listing of agencies/places to contact after your action has been ordered or decreed (approved and finalized), we do not assist in these procedures. These steps will be your responsibility.
The Courts are often willing to accept name changes for almost any legitimate reason. However, the granting of a Petition for Change of Name is discretionary with the Court. For an order of name change to be granted, the Court must find compliance with the requirements of notice and the requirements for the allegations in the Petition. The Court must also find good and sufficient reason for the change and find the change consistent with the public interest.
One cannot change his/her name for a fraudulent reason, change to a name that could affect the rights of another person (such as a celebrity) nor change to a name which involves vulgarity.
Again, please remember, our name change materials are designed to cover a simple, uncontested name changes ONLY. Our products/services should not be used if you have been convicted of a felony, have claimed bankruptcy and/or have judgments/liens against you. Instead, you should consider contacting an attorney in your area. These circumstances could cause complications which may result in your action being denied and/or contested.
In the state of Maryland, an adult who wishes to change his or her name must be a resident of Maryland and the county where the action is being filed. A Petition must be filed in a Circuit Court. The Petition informs the Court of the Petitioner's name, the name the Petitioner wishes to assume, the reasons for the change and other personal information required by statute.
An official copy of a birth certificate must also be submitted.
After the Petition is filed, a notice must be published in a local newspaper for name change. Once this requirement is fulfilled, the documents are forwarded to a judge for consideration. A Hearing may or may not be required, depending on the court and circumstances.
At this time, the Court shall proceed at chambers to hear and determine all matters raised by the Petition and to render final judgment or decree thereon. The Court may then proceed to enter an Order of approval of name change.
The granting of a Petition for change of name is discretionary with the Court, and the Court may deny a Petition on grounds, which would not constitute lawful objection. For an Order of name change to be granted, the Court must find sufficient reasons for the change and also find the name change in the interest or to the benefit of the Petitioner and in the interest of the public. A person is not allowed to change his/her name in order to avoid judgments or legal actions against him or her, or to avoid debts and obligations. A person cannot change his/her name to defraud another person.
The law which governs name changes in Maryland is Maryland Rule 15-901. This information can be reviewed here: Maryland Name Change Laws.
Name changes are sought for many reasons. Perhaps you simply do not like your birth name and want a name that better suits you. Perhaps you're divorced and did not request that the Court restore your maiden name as part of the divorce proceedings and your state does not offer a simplified procedure, such as California. Perhaps you are making or have made a career change, and feel that your birth name hinders you in your new job. As far as the reason(s) for your change of name, the reason(s) should be valid enough that a Judge would at least accept it/them. Remember that the reason(s) will go a long way in helping the Judge determine whether or not to grant your petition.
Name changes are common and are typically pretty easy to carry out. Our self-help name change forms contain detailed filing instructions to help you successfully change your name without the cost of an attorney.
The Courts are often willing to accept name changes for almost any legitimate reason. However, the granting of a petition for change of name is discretionary with the Court. For an order of name change to be granted, the Court must find compliance with the requirements of notice and the requirements for the allegations in the Petition. You cannot change your name for a fraudulent purpose, such as to avoid debts, you cannot change to a name that could affect the rights of another person, such as a celebrity, you cannot use a curse word, racial slur, obscene and/or an offensive word as part of your name and you cannot change to a name that would cause deliberate confusion (for example, a name with punctuation and/or a number in it).
The Court must also find good and sufficient reason for the change, find the change consistent with the public interest and if the change of name is for a minor child, find that the change is in the best interests of the minor child.
The cost of our forms is the only charge we will collect. Other charges you may incur in the filing of any legal pleading with a court could include: filing fees, postage for certified mailings, fees associated with the signatures and seals of a Notary Public, publication fees and service of process charges. It is difficult to determine exactly what fees will be needed due to the varying circumstances surrounding any legal action or case. Moreover, the processes and requirements for a name change application vary sometimes from county to county or even courthouse to courthouse. We recommend that you contact your local court clerk for information regarding the exact current cost of these fees.
Name change actions can take anywhere from a day to six (6) months (sometimes even longer). The time it takes for such action to be ordered/decreed varies not only from county to county, but sometimes from courthouse to courthouse as well. Should time be a major factor for you, to see how long a name change at your local courthouse will take to process, we recommend that you contact the courthouse where you anticipate filing your particular legal action.
We always recommend that our customers file their actions (documents/forms) in-person at their local courthouse. This is the fastest, easiest and best approach to filing. Besides appearing to file your documents/forms, name change actions often require other appearances within court.
If you have further questions regarding court appearances pertaining to a name change application, we recommend that you contact your local court clerk with your questions.
If I was born in Florida but have since moved to Maryland, in which state should I file my application for change of name?
In order to file for a name change, one must meet the residency requirements of the state in which he/she wishes to file. In other words, in order to petition a state for name change, you must be a permanent resident of that state. All states require a Petitioner/Applicant to be a resident of the state -- often for at least six months and sometimes for as long as one year -- before filing for a name change there. Someone who files for a name change, typically, must offer proof that (s)he has resided there for the required length of time.
Our name change forms are applicable to changes of the first name, middle name, last name and/or any combination.
Do I need to go through the court ordered procedure if I am only correcting my first and/or middle name(s)?
If you are only correcting a first or middle name AND you were born in Maryland, you MAY NOT need to go through the court-ordered process. We recommend that you contact the Vital Records Department/Agency in Maryland. Contact information for the Maryland State Vital Records Office can be found at http://www.vitalrec.com/md.html. You may also want to contact your local Court Clerk for further information.
If the name change action is for a minor, and the minor is younger than one year old, you MAY NOT need to file for a name change in court. The Department of Health may change the name on a birth certificate once without a court order if, within 12 months after the birth, the Department receives from both parents of a child:
(i) A written request for the change of name; and
(ii) An affidavit that has been sworn before a notary public of this State and states that they are the parents of the child and are making this request of their own free will.
Our name change forms are not to be used when the name change is a result of marriage -- a simpler procedure should be involved.
Our name change products and services are not to be used in connection with an adoption or paternity action, since in such cases the name change should be done as part of that case or proceeding.
In your notes regarding this service it states that if someone has claimed bankruptcy, they should consider contacting a lawyer. I filed for bankruptcy but have been discharged for 5 years. Should I still consider using a lawyer or is it ok to use this kit or service?
Our name change materials (information and products) are for simple uncontested name change actions only. Attempting to change one's name when contemplating filing for bankruptcy and/or after one has claimed bankruptcy can be complicated and our name change pleadings are not applicable in such situations. These situations would typically require the assistance of an attorney who is a member of the bar in the state in which you live.
If the paternal father's name isn't on my stepdaughter's birth certificate do we need to notify the paternal father of our petition?
Any parent or adult who retains parental or custodial rights over a minor has a right, based in statute, to be notified and must provide consent or waiver of consent to legal actions regarding the minor. The actual law will vary from state to state, but the general rule is that both parents must consent to a name change for a minor. Our products are designed for uncontested legal actions only - actions where all interested parties can come to agreement.
In the event that anyone files an objection to your request, your case will become a contested case and you are strongly urged to hire an attorney. If you do not retain an attorney you will have to represent yourself in a contested hearing.
Most name change Petitions are granted, however, the law gives the Court the power to decline a person's request for a name change. Therefore, the Court can refuse a name change request if there is a reason to decline the request.
If a name change Petition was denied because there was not enough evidence to support the request, then you will have to wait until the circumstances that led to the denial change before you can file another Petition. This is because once the Court makes a decision about an incident or an event; it cannot address that same incident or event again. If the Petition was denied because of a procedural error (for example, you did not file the correct forms), then you should correct the error and request another time to ask the Judge to approve your name change.
Finally, whenever you lose in Court, you have the right to request the Court to reconsider its decision and you have the right to appeal the decision to a higher Court. Please note that in most cases you have 30 days or less from the date of the Judge's decision to exercise these rights or you may lose your right to reconsideration or appeal. You should seek the assistance of an attorney to exercise these rights.