In Massachusetts, you can change your name, without any legal proceedings, by merely using another name, as long as it is done for an honest reason. But to get new ID, like a driver's license or passport, you will need to have a legal name change.
You can get a legal name change in 4 ways:
- When you get married. The Probate and Family Court doesn't handle name changes related to getting married. To learn how to change your name after getting married, please see Getting Married in Massachusetts.
- 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).
- 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.
- By filing for a change of name. If you are 18 years or older, live in Massachusetts. and want to legally change your name, you can file for a name change in Massachusetts. The change will be granted unless it is "inconsistent with public interests." For example, your name change might not be granted if you are trying to pretend to be someone else, or if you are trying to hide your criminal record.
A child's name can be legally changed in 3 ways:
- When the child is adopted. See The Court Adoption Process for more information.
- When a parentage judgment includes an order to change the child's name
- By filing for a change of name. Parents or guardians can file to change their minor child’s name.
- If parents or guardians can’t agree on a child’s name, the court will decide based on the best interest of the child.
- A child over 12 needs to agree to the name change
You should generally file for a name change at the Probate and Family Court in the county where you live. If you’re looking to change the name of a minor who is the subject of a pending proceeding in the Juvenile Court, you can file for a name change in that Juvenile Court.