File to change your name as an adult

You can file for a name change in Massachusetts if you are 18 years or older and want to legally change your name.

Probate and Family Court

The Details

What you need

To file for a name change as an adult, you will need:

  • Petition for Change of Name (Form CJ-P27)
  • A certified copy of your birth certificate (long-form). This is available from the Registry of Vital Records or from the city or town where you were born. Birth certificates that are not written in English must include a translated copy signed by a professional interpreter. If your name has previously been changed by a court decree or by marriage, either a copy of your amended birth certificate, a copy of the court decree or a copy of the marriage certificate must be filed with the petition. If you are divorced, you need to file a certified copy of the divorce judgment.

Divorce

If you are getting divorced, there is a box on the divorce petition that you can check to resume your former name or a former married name. If you are not sure you want to resume a former name when you file for divorce, you can file a motion to change your name before the conclusion of your divorce case. You cannot obtain a new name or change a child’s name through this procedure.

Naturalization

If you are an adult and have already undergone the naturalization process, you need to file a name change petition with the Probate and Family Court and follow the steps detailed here. Birth certificates that are not written in English must include a translated copy signed by a professional interpreter. If you are an immigrant planning to become naturalized, you can change your name as part of the naturalization process.This procedure is based on federal law.

Fees

Local courts differ on the type of payments (cash, check, credit card, etc.) that they will accept. Call your court to find out the accepted methods of payment in that location.

If you believe you cannot pay the filing fee because you are indigent, you may request that the fee be waived. This means that you would not have to pay the fee. If you cannot afford court fees, you need to qualify under the federal poverty income guidelines and file an Affidavit of Indigency. This explains your financial situation to the court, so the court can decide whether or not you will need to pay your own fees. See our page on indigency to learn more.

Name Fee Unit
Filing Fee $150 each
Surcharge $15 each
Fee for Citation (Notice) for publication, if required $15 each
Filing fee for a motion to change name during divorce nisi period (if not requested on divorce complaint or petition) $100 each

How to file

You can file your request to change your name at your local Probate and Family Court. To find your nearest court, please see our location listing page.

You may submit the required forms for a name change to the Probate and Family Court in the county where you live. To find your nearest court, please see our location listing page.

Next steps

Publish the citation

After the petition is filed, the court must request a criminal record check from the Office of the Commissioner of Probation for any petitioner 10 years or older. Public notice of the petition is given by publication, and the citation for publication will be sent to you by the court. You must arrange to have the citation published in a local newspaper and mailed according to the instructions given in the order of notice on the citation. Mailing must be by certified mail, return receipt requested. After publication and mailing, you return the original citation with a clipping of the notice from the newspaper, the green return receipt post card, and your signature certifying that you mailed and published the notice to the court.

If you have a good reason for the notice not being published, you can file a motion to waive publication. An affidavit (a sworn statement) must be filed with the motion explaining why you do not want the notice published. You may have to go before a judge to present your reasons.  

More info

How soon your case will be heard will depend upon the backlog of cases in the Probate and Family Court where your case has been filed. If an in-person hearing is not required in your case, once you have returned proof of service to the court and the return date has passed, the case will be sent to the judge. If it is approved by the judge, the court will send you a certificate under the seal of the court, establishing the new name.  

If there are objections to the petition, the court will conduct a trial to hear them. The court can either dismiss the petition or enter a decree permitting the requested name change. If the name change is allowed, the Register of Probate will issue a certificate establishing the new name.

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