Massachusetts law about name changes

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on name change law by the Trial Court Law Libraries.

Table of Contents

Best bets

Name Changes, Mass. Trial Court. Explains the process of changing your name in Massachusetts, including forms, fees, and what to expect.

Change of Name: Family Law Advocacy for Low and Moderate Income Litigants, 3d ed., 2018, Chapter 15. Mass. Legal Services
Covers petitions for name change and special issues regarding children's names.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.46, s.1D Adoption of Surname Upon Marriage
"Each party to a marriage may adopt any surname, including but not limited to the present or birth-given surname of either party, may retain or resume use of a present or birth-given surname, or may adopt any hyphenated combination thereof."

MGL c.210, s.12 Petitions for Change of Name

MGL c.210, s.13 Notice and Certificate; Decree; Entry; Conditions Precedent

MGL c.210, s.14 Annual Return of Changes

Court rules

Uniform Probate and Family Court Practice XXXV: Change of name actions

Selected case law

Merolevitz, Petitioner, 320 Mass. 448 (1946)
"It is well settled that at common law a person may change his name at will, without resort to legal proceedings, by merely adopting another name, provided that this is done for an honest purpose."

Petition of Two Minors for Change of Name, 65 Mass.App.Ct. 850 (2006). 
Case provides a clear summary of the reasoning for allowing or denying a change of name of children in a divorce situation.

Secretary of the Commonwealth v. City Clerk of Lowell, 373 Mass. 178 (1977)
Case deals with choice of name primarily for out of wedlock children, but also affirms the right of a woman to change her name by common law.

Forms

Information and court forms to change an adult's name

Information and court forms to change a child's name

Social Security SS-5 , Social Security Administration.
Use to obtain a card in your new name.

Web sources

Adult Name Change on Social Security Card, Social Security Administration
Includes ID requirements

Change Your Name on Your Passport, US State Dept.
"The process to change your name on your passport varies depending on your situation." Provides information to find the process that applies to you.

How to Get Married in Massachusetts: How do I change my surname? (Same-Sex Marriage), GLAD
Describes the process and benefits of changing your name when applying for a marriage license

Names and Name Changes (for children), Neighborhood Legal Services
"This booklet is designed to answer some of the questions you may have about your rights regarding naming your children, recording your children's names, changing your name, or changing your children's names."

Print sources

Beth D. Cohen, A Name of One’s Own: The Spousal Permission Requirement and the Persistence of Patriarchy, 46 Suffolk University Law Review 1 (2013).

"Child Naming Disputes," Massachusetts Family Law Journal Vol. 24 #4 (August-September 2006) p.81-98

Family Law and Practice, Mass. Practice Series v.2A, Thomson West, with supplement, Chapter 84, "Change of Name Proceedings."

Transgender Persons and the Law, ABA, 2015. Chapter 2: “Identification Documents." 

Transgender Persons and the Law, MCLE, 2015. pp.48-50: Change Your Legal Name.

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: July 18, 2018

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