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I Want to Change My Name

Contents

    There are many steps involved in changing your name. These include filing your completed petition, paying fees, getting a criminal background check, publishing a notice of hearing, and attending a hearing. Read this article to learn more about the process.

    If You are Getting Divorced

    If you took your spouse’s last name when you were married and you are now getting divorced, you may ask the judge to let you change your last name as part of your divorce. Read Finishing Your Michigan Divorce without Minor Children to learn more about changing your name as part of your divorce.

    The Process and Requirements

    File a Petition to Change Name to start the process of changing your name. You can use our Do-It-Yourself Name Change to complete your petition.

    Along with the other information required in your petition, you must say why you want to change your name. You can’t change your name for fraudulent reasons. Fraudulent reasons include wanting to deceive creditors or escape a criminal history.

    Once you complete the petition, make a copy of it. File the original with the circuit court in the county where you live. You must have lived in that county for at least one year before you file your petition. It will cost $175 to file your petition. If you cannot afford to pay this, you can ask the judge to waive the fee. Read the article Fee Waivers in Court Cases to learn more about fee waivers.

    If You are a Minor

    If you are a minor who is at least 14 years old, you can ask the judge to change your name, but both your parents must agree to it. If your noncustodial parent objects to the name change, the judge may still approve it if that parent:

    • Had the ability to pay support, but did not provide you with substantial support for the last two years, AND had the ability to visit or contact you, but has not had substantial contact with you in the last two years; OR

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

    If you do not know your noncustodial parent’s address or your noncustodial parent is missing, you must include his or her name in the Notice of Hearing to be published. The notice must also say that “The result of the hearing may be to bar or affect the interest of [your noncustodial parent’s name] in the matter.”

    If one of your parents is deceased, and your other parent has custody of you, that parent must agree to your name change. If that parent does not have custody of you, you must still notify your parent about your proposed name change and the hearing date.

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

    Criminal Background Check

    If you are 22 years old or older, you must get a criminal background check. The processing fee for the criminal background check is $42. You must pay it with a check or money order, made out to the State of Michigan.

    First, get fingerprinted at a local police agency. The cost to get fingerprinted varies depending on the police station. Check with your local police station about the cost. Then mail your fingerprints, a copy of your Petition to Change Name, and a check or money order to the Michigan State Police Department. For the address and more information, go to the Michigan State Police website.

    The state police will forward a second copy of your fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). The processing time may vary. It usually takes three to five weeks to complete the background check.

    The state police department will report its findings and any information it got from the FBI to the court where you filed your petition. The court will not schedule a hearing for your name change until it gets the report from the state police. If you have no pending charges or criminal record, the state police will destroy its copy of your fingerprints.

    Publication

    When the court gets the report from the Michigan State Police, it will schedule a hearing. 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 use our Do-It-Yourself Name Change to complete your Publication of Notice of Hearing Form.

    Some courts work with the local Legal News for publication. In these courts a copy of the Publication of Notice of Hearing form is sent to the Legal News for publishing when you file it. The Legal News will bill you for $80.25. After you pay it, the Legal News will mail you the original Affidavit of Publication. File it with the court.

    Other courts require you to contact a local newspaper to publish your notice. Ask the newspaper to publish your notice right away. The cost 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 date or dates the notice was published.

    Most newspapers have a standard affidavit form they use. If the newspaper publishing your notice does not, you can send it this Affidavit of Publication Form.

    The judge will not sign the order granting your name change without the published notice and the Affidavit of Publication.

    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 Court Information section of Michigan Legal Help to get contact information for your local circuit court.

    If you have a good reason you don’t want 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.

    The Hearing

    On the day of your hearing, bring any documents that are related to your name change. It is always a good idea to have two copies of the documents, so you can give the judge one.

    At the hearing, the judge will likely ask you questions about the information in your petition. The judge will also give anyone who objects to your name change a chance to talk about their reasons for objecting.

    If your petition is approved, the judge will complete and sign the order changing your name. The order is one of the documents that you can get by using our Do-It-Yourself Name Change. There is a $10 fee to have the court enter the order. If you want a certified copy of the order, it costs another $10.

    If the judge ordered your name change records be kept confidential, then the records will be kept in a sealed envelope marked confidential and placed in a private file. Only you will have access to these records, unless a judge orders otherwise.

    If You have a Criminal Record

    If you have a criminal record, the judge presumes you want to change your name because of fraud, such as trying to escape your criminal history. You have to overcome that presumption by explaining why you want 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 now 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.

    Family Name Changes

    When you ask to change your own name, you can also ask the judge to change your child’s name or the last name of your entire family using the same petition. The same general rules apply.

    Complete and file the Petition to Change Name with the family division of the circuit court in the county where you and your child or family live. Anyone listed on the petition must have lived in that county for at least one year. Pay the fees associated with a name change. Publish the Notice of Hearing (unless the judge orders your case be kept confidential).

    If you are not currently living with your child’s other parent, you must notify your child’s other parent. If your child’s other parent objects to the proposed name change, to have the name change approved you must prove that parent:

    • Had the ability to pay, but failed to provide your child with substantial support for the last two years, AND had the ability to visit or contact your child, but has not had substantial contact with your child in the last two years; OR

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

    Any minor child listed on the petition who is 14 years old or older must agree to the name change and sign the petition in front of the judge during the hearing. If your child is unable to 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 any child listed on the petition is younger than 14 years old (typically seven or older), the judge will decide if the child is capable of expressing a preference, and will consider that child’s wishes. The child can sign the petition stating a preference. Everyone 22 years old or older must get a criminal background check.

    After Your Name Change

    Not all documents that have your old name on them will automatically change. To learn more about what you should do after your name change, read the After Your Name Change article.