Getting married or divorced are two of the most common reasons people legally change their names.
However, it can be a tricky process! Whether you’re recently married, divorced, or ready to start a new life with a new name, here’s how to complete a name change Massachusetts.
Congrats! You’re Married
Your wedding day is one of the most exciting days of your life! However, the process of changing your last name can quickly ruin your post-wedding “high.”
Brides, in Massachusetts, your marriage license is the key to changing your name. If you’re sure about your new married name, you can save a step in the name change process when you apply for your marriage license.
- List your new married name on the application.
- When you receive your marriage license, make sure your new name is correct on the license.
- Following the wedding ceremony, your officiant will file your marriage license with the courts.
You’ll receive your marriage certificate within a few weeks of your wedding. This document is proof that you completed a legal wedding ceremony to justify your new last name.
It is recommended to get a few certified copies of your marriage certificate that shows your new name. Most name change requests will require a certified copy of your marriage certificate when applying for new documents like your social security card, driver’s license, and other official documents.
If you aren’t sure about your married name at the time you apply for your marriage license, don’t worry. You can change your name after your wedding by filing a Petition for Change of Name.
In the Case of Divorce
After a divorce, many women prefer to go back to their maiden name. It’s common, and Massachusetts law allows for that to take place during the divorce process.
During your divorce proceedings, ask the court to change your name to back to your former name. The court generally won’t allow a name change to anything other than your maiden name during this process. However, it makes it easy to go back to your previous last name without a lot of paperwork.
If the court grants your request, you’ll see your maiden name and record of the change in the final decree of divorce.
However, if you don’t request the change during your divorce process, you’ll need to file the Petition for Change of Name and follow that process once your divorce is final.
Other Name Change Situations
Massachusetts allows name changes for a variety of different reasons other than marriage or divorce. However, it’s critical to confirm eligibility before attempting a name change.
You can legally change a name if:
- You are an adult 18 years or older
- You are a parent or guardian filing to change their minor child’s name
If you’re a parent or guardian trying to change the name of a child, the courts require a few things and good cause for the change.
For minors, name changes are common after adoption. There are other reasons to change a child’s name, but the courts will consider a range of factors before granting a name change for a minor. In general, changing a minor’s name has to be in the best interest of the child.
The court considers:
- The age of the child
- The length of time a child has gone by a name
- Any effects the new name might have on a child’s relationship with parents or siblings
The court will also consider any embarrassments or difficulties the child may face as a result of the new name. If the child is mature enough to have input on their new name, the court will consider their input.
We mentioned that you could change your first, middle, or last name if you simply want a new name. However, you’ll want to make sure your new name is worth it before going through the process! Once your name change becomes official, it’s not easy to change it again. The courts often reject frequent attempts to change a name more than once.
To change your name for any reason other than marriage or divorce, Massachusetts courts require:
- Filing the Petition for Change of Name
- A copy of your birth certificate filed with the Petition
- Passing a criminal records check
- Publishing a notice in a newspaper or other local public news source
You might also need to attend a court hearing to confirm you are of sound mind when requesting a legal name change.
Here are a few reasons why the courts might not grant a name change.
- Choosing an offensive or vulgar name
- For fraud or to escape legal responsibilities
- If you have a criminal record
- To avoid paying off debt or other financial obligations
- Including symbols, numbers, or different confusing spellings
In most cases, you can choose a new name that suits you as long as it doesn’t violate any of these conditions above. If at first, your name change doesn’t succeed, feel free to try again.
Massachusetts Name Change the Easy Way
Are you overwhelmed by the processes we described to legally changed your name? More and more people are turning to name change services such as UpdateMyName.com to help streamline the tricky name change process and ensure they are using the most up to date forms.
However, regardless if you decided to go the DIY route or use a name change services, the information above should help you get started on your name change journey!