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Common Questions about Name Change

Contents

    These are common questions about name changes.

    Questions about Name Change

    How do I change my name?
    • Complete and file the Petition to Change Name with the circuit court in the county where you live. You must have lived in that county for at least one year.

    • Pay the required fees.

    • If you are 22 years old or older, get fingerprinted. Send your fingerprints, a copy of your petition, and check or money order for $42 to the Michigan State Police for a criminal background check.

    • Publish your Notice of Hearing (unless the judge orders your case be kept confidential).

    • Go to the hearing.

    For more information, please read I Want to Change My Name.

    How do I change my family’s last name?

    The same general process applies whether you are changing just your name or your family’s last name.

    For more information, please read I Want to Change My Name.

    Every member of your family whose name will change must be listed on the petition. They must agree to the name change by signing the petition in front of the judge during the hearing, unless they are younger than 14 years old. The same rules about changing a child’s name apply. For more information on changing a child’s name, read Changing Your Minor Child’s Name.

    How do I change my minor child’s name?

    Only a custodial parent can ask to change a child’s name. A custodial parent has sole or joint physical or legal custody of the child.

    To change your child’s name, you must:

    • Complete and file the Petition to Change Name with the family division of the circuit court in the county where your child lives. Your child must have lived in that county for at least one year.

    • Pay the required fees.

    • Notify your child’s other parent. If the other parent objects to the proposed name change, to have the name change approved you must prove that parent:

      • Failed to provide your child with substantial support for the last two years, AND has not had substantial contact with your child in the last two years; OR

      • Has been convicted of child abuse or a sexual assault crime and your child or one of your child’s siblings was the victim.

    • Publish the Notice of Hearing (unless the judge orders your case be kept confidential).

    • If your child is 14 years old or older, that child must agree to the name change and sign the petition in front of the judge during the hearing. If your child cannot attend the hearing, he or she must sign the petition in front of a notary public to have his or her signature notarized, before the hearing.

    • If your child is younger than 14 years old (typically seven or older), the judge will decide if your child is capable of expressing a preference, and may consider your child’s wishes. Your child can sign the petition stating his/her preference.

    To learn more, please read Changing Your Minor Child’s Name.

    What can I do if my child’s other parent wants to change our child’s name?

    You can agree or object to the proposed name change. To learn more, read Changing Your Minor Child’s Name.

    I’m a minor; can I change my name?

    If you are 14 years old or older, you can ask the judge to change your name, but both your parents must agree to the change. If your parents are not married to each other and your noncustodial parent objects to your proposed name change, the judge may still approve it if that parent:

    • Failed to provide you with substantial support for the last two years AND has not had substantial contact with you in the last two years; OR

    • Has been convicted of child abuse or a sexual assault crime and you or one of your siblings was the victim.

    If both your parents are deceased, your legal guardian must agree to your name change. You must submit letters of guardianship along with your Petition to Change Name.

    Can I change my name if I have a criminal record?

    Maybe. You may ask the judge to change your name if you have a criminal record. However, the judge will presume you want to change your name because of fraud, such as trying to escape your criminal history. You have to overcome that presumption by convincing the judge you have a valid reason for wanting to change your name. If the judge grants your name change, the order will be sent to the state police and maybe:

    • The department of corrections if you are currently in prison, on parole, or you were in prison during the last two years

    • The sheriff of the county where you were last convicted, if you were in a county jail anytime during the last two years, or

    • A court that has jurisdiction over you. A court has jurisdiction over you if you were the plaintiff (or petitioner) or defendant (or respondent) in a case in that court.

    Why might the judge deny my proposed name change?

    A judge may deny your proposed name change if:

    • The judge believes you want to change your name for fraudulent reasons (such as, if you want to change your name to deceive creditors or escape a criminal record);

    • You didn’t publish the Notice of Hearing; or

    • Someone, such as a creditor or a person with your proposed name, objects to your name change.

    How much will it cost to change my name?

    There are several fees associated with name changes. The filing fee for your petition is $175.00. The publication fee varies depending on the newspaper you use. The Legal News charges $80.25. If the judge approves your petition, it costs $10.00 to enter the order. A certified copy of the order costs another $10.00.

    If you are 22 years old or older, you will have to be fingerprinted for a criminal background check. Fingerprinting fees will vary. Check with your local police station to find out more about fingerprinting fees. The processing fee for the criminal background check is $42.

    If you cannot afford the costs, you may qualify for a fee waiver for the filing fees only. Costs for publishing or background checks are not waived. Read Fee Waivers in Court Cases to learn more about fee waivers.

    How long will it take to change my name?

    The processing time varies depending on if you need to have a criminal background check or not. The process typically takes between four and six months.

    What is the publication process?

    All notices of name change hearings must be published in a local newspaper. This gives people your name change may affect a chance to object to it. You can complete the Publication of Notice of Hearing Form for your name change by using our Do-It-Yourself Name Change.

    Some courts work with the local Legal News for publication. These courts will send a copy of the Publication of Notice of Hearing form to the Legal News when you file the form. The Legal News will bill you for $80.25. After you pay the fee, the Legal News will mail you the original Affidavit of Publication for you to file with the court.

    Other courts require you to contact a local newspaper to have it publish your notice. You may need to ask the newspaper to publish your notice right away. The prices will vary depending on the newspaper.

    After the local newspaper publishes your name change notice, submit a copy of the published notice and Affidavit of Publication to the court. The newspaper must complete the Affidavit of Publication, not you. The Affidavit of Publication must list the qualifications of newspaper and the dates the notice was published.

    Most newspapers have an affidavit form they use. If the newspaper you use does not, you can send it this Affidavit of Publication Form.

    The notice must be published before your name change hearing. Depending on the county you live in, the notice needs to be published between two and eight weeks before the hearing. Some courts require you to check with them three days before your hearing to make sure they got the publication information. You can contact your local circuit court to find out its publication requirements. Use the Courts & Agencies section of Michigan Legal Help to get contact information for your local circuit court.

    If you have a good reason not to publish the notice, you can ask the judge to keep the record of the proceedings confidential. The judge will only do this if publishing the notice would put you in physical danger. If the judge orders the case be kept confidential, you don’t have to publish anything about your name change.

    Do I have to publish the notice of hearing for my name change?

    Yes, unless you have a good reason to keep your name change confidential. You can ask the judge to keep the record of the proceedings confidential. The judge will only do this if you would be placed in physical danger if you publish the notice. If the judge orders your case be kept confidential, you don’t have to publish anything about your name change.

    What do I do after the judge approves my name change?

    You may want to contact every agency that deals with you using your old name. For a list of agencies to consider contacting, please read After Your Name Change.