Legally change your name as an adult
Probate and Family Court locations
The Details of Legally change your name as an adult
What you need for Legally change your name as an adult
When you don't need to file a name change in court
There are three situations when you don't have to file in court and pay a fee just to change your name:
- When you get married. See Getting married in Massachusetts for more information.
- When you get divorced. If you're getting divorced and want to resume a name you have legally had in the past, you can ask to resume this former name in your Complaint for divorce (CJD-101), Joint Petition for Divorce form (pursuant to G.L. c. 208, § 1A) (CJD-101A), or Counterclaim for Divorce (CJD-202). You can't change a child’s name through a divorce.
- When you become a naturalized citizen. If you're in the process of becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, you can request a name change from the federal government through this process.
To file a case to change your name
Otherwise, if you are over 18 years old, you must file a case to change your name in the Probate and Family Court in the county where you live. You must file the following:
- Petition to Change Name of Adult (CJP 27)
- 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 written translation signed by the person translating the birth certificate with a statement that they are fluent in the foreign language and English and that the translation is a true and accurate translation. The translators signature must be notarized.
- If you have changed your name in the past, you must file the certified document showing that name change for each time your name changed. Examples of this are a marriage certificate, Judgment of Divorce, or other court decree of name change.
- A Court Activity Record Information (CARI) and Warrant Management System Release Request Form (CJP 34).
If you would also like to amend the sex on your Massachusetts birth certificate, please see Amend a birth certificate following medical intervention for the purpose of sex reassignment.
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Fees for Legally change your name as an adult
Local courts accept different types of payments (cash, check, credit card, etc.). Call your court to find out which methods of payment are accepted in that location.
If you can’t pay the filing fee because you’re indigent, you can request that the fee be waived. If you can’t 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.
|Fee for Citation (Notice) for publication, if required
|Filing fee for a motion to change name during divorce nisi period (if not requested on divorce complaint or petition)
How to file Legally change your name as an adult
You can file to change your name at your local Probate and Family Court.
You may submit the required forms for a name change to the Probate and Family Court in the county where you live.
Next steps for Legally change your name as an adult
You need to give public notice of the petition by publishing it. The citation for publication will be sent to you by the court. If you have a good reason for the notice not being published, you can file a Motion (CJD 400) to waive publication. An affidavit (a sworn statement) must be filed with the motion explaining why you don’t want the notice published. You may have to go before a judge to present your reasons.
Otherwise, 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. The mailing must be by certified mail, return receipt requested.
If the name change is requested by anyone who is incarcerated, on probation or parole, or committed to the Massachusetts Treatment Center as a sexually dangerous person, you must also serve the citation by mail on:
- The Massachusetts Department of Correction or the Massachusetts Parole Board
- The office of the prosecuting official (District Attorney, Attorney General, or U.S. Attorney) and the sheriff’s office(s) in the jurisdiction where the conviction(s) or delinquency adjudications happened
- The Sex Offender Registry Board and the prosecuting official if you’re required to register as a sex offender
After publication and mailing, return the original citation with a clipping of the notice from the newspaper, the green return receipt postcard, and your signature certifying that you mailed and published the notice to the court.
More info for Legally change your name as an adult
How soon your case will be heard will depend on the backlog of cases in the Probate and Family Court where your case has been filed. If an in-person hearing isn’t 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 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 name change. If there are no objections, the court may make a decision without a hearing.
If the name change is allowed, the court will issue you a decree of change of name, and a certificate may be requested for a cost. Please see Get a copy of a Probate & Family Court record for more information on getting a copy of the certificate.