Massachusetts law about name changes

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on name changes law.

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, 2d ed., 2008, 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

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

Last update: July 25, 2017

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