How do I file a change of name for 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. Find out how to change your name and what paperwork you'll need to file.

Table of Contents

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:

  1. When you get married. See Getting married in Massachusetts for more information.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

When you DO need to file a name change with the court

Step 1. Prepare all forms and gather documents

  • Find the Probate and Family Court in the county where you reside (reside is where you currently live). You will need this information to complete forms.
  • Prepare all documents required to file your case by using the checklist of forms and documents found at Probate and Family Court Petition to Change Name of Adult (CJP 27).
  • Sign the Petition to Change of Name Adult (CJP 27) in the presence of a Notary Public (an official who is commissioned by the state to witness documents). To sign in the presence of a notary, you are required to provide photo identification. If your photo identification has a name that does not match your legal name, you may use a Motion (CJD 400) to ask the Court to waive the notarization requirement.

What is my legal name?

Step 2. File the forms with the court and pay the fee

The fee for filing a name change petition is:

$150 Filing Fee + $15 Surcharge Fee + $15 Citation Fee = $180 Total Filing Fee

If you are financially unable to pay the fee go to Indigency (waiver of court fees) to see if you qualify to have your fees waived. If you qualify, you will need to file your Affidavit of Indigency with the forms required on the checklist.

$180  Total filing fee for a name change petition

If an entire family seeks a name change or two or more children who have the same legal parents seek a name change, a separate petition must be filed for each person whose name is seeking to be changed, but you will only have to pay one fee for the entire family (unless the filing fee is otherwise waived by the Court pursuant to G. L. c. 261).

Where do I file?

You must file the forms at the Probate and Family Court in the county where you currently live.

What are my filing options?

Step 3. Serve the citation and publish in the newspaper

After you have filed your petition and all required documents, the court will give you a Citation on Petition for Change of Name (CJP 28). You will be required to:

  • Publish in the newspaper 
    You will be required to publish the top section of the Citation in a newspaper that the court lists on page two (2) of the citation. You will need to publish at least seven (7) days before the return date listed on page one (1) on the Citation. See the sample citation below.

    Note: If you believe there is a reason why you should not publish your name change in the newspaper, you may file a Motion (CJD 400) asking to waive publication with the court. A judge will review your request and allow or deny it.

  • Depending on your circumstances, you may be required to notify additional persons or organizations. Go to Instructions for Notice in Change of Name Actions (PDF) for help identifying who needs to be notified of your change of name petition.

Sample citation

Looking at the image of the example citation below, you would contact the Nantucket Current newspaper and ask that the citation be published before 4/8/2023 which is 7 days before 4/15/23, the return day listed on the Citation. 

The Return Day is the deadline for people to object to your petition by filing an appearance with the Court.

Sample citation of an adult name change.
Sample notice by a publication.

Step 4. File the citation return of service with the court

You must file the Citation with a completed page three (3), the Return of Service, with the court showing that you provided the correct notice of your name change.

You will be required to file proof that you followed the court’s order. Proof of service may include:

  • Copy of the posting in the newspaper where the citation was published (must include the date).

    If the publication was in Massachusetts, you can print a copy of the posting in the newspaper which published your citation on the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association website.

  • Return receipts for any mailing.
Example of a return receipt from the post office.

Example of a return receipt from the post office.

What is a return receipt?

If you need to mail a petition and citation to someone involved in your case, use certified and registered mail and request a return receipt from the post office. The return receipt is a green card, which you must file with the court to show you mailed the documents correctly.

Step 5. What happens next?

The court may allow your change of name without you having to appear at the courthouse OR you may receive a notice that a hearing will be held.

If you are not required to attend a hearing, meaning your change of name was handled administratively, you will be mailed a certified Decree of Change of Name and your case is completed. If you requested your original documents back, these will be included.

If you are required to attend a hearing, you will receive a notice in the mail that includes a date, time, and location where you need to appear. Bring copies of all documents with you, including any proof of service to the hearing.

What do I do if I need more help?

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