The following information will take you through the steps necessary to legally change a name.
Requests to Change Name When 14 Years of Age or Older
If you want to change your name and you are an adult or a minor who is 14 years of age or older, or you want to change your family's last name, you can petition for a change of name in the family division of the circuit court in the county where you live. You must have lived in the county for at least one year prior to filing the petition.
Your petition must give the reason for the name change and assure the court that you are not seeking a name change with any dishonest intent. A notice of the hearing to change the name must be published to allow creditors, individuals with the same name, and others the opportunity to object. If you are over 21 years of age, before your name can be changed, you will have to be fingerprinted so your criminal history can be checked by the Michigan State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There is a charge for this. Results of the criminal history check will be sent to the court. A person with a criminal record is presumed to have a fraudulent intent in seeking to change his or her name and any request for name change will be denied. Persons under age 22 do not have to be fingerprinted or have a criminal history check.
A petition filed by a minor who is 14 years of age or older must be signed by both parents, one parent if the other parent is missing or dead, or a legal guardian.
Requests to Change Name When Under 14 Years of Age
To change the name of a minor who is less than 14 years old, you must file a petition for a name change with the family division of the circuit court in the county where the child lives. The child must have lived in the county for at least one year prior to filing the petition.
Both legal parents must agree to the proposed name change. If both parents do not consent, the custodial parent must prove to the court that the child has not been substantially visited, contacted, or supported by the noncustodial parent for at least two years prior to filing the petition. The noncustodial parent must be given legal notice of the hearing and an opportunity to object to the proposed name change. The rights of legal parents are not terminated by a name change.
Statutes and Court Rules
Statutes and court rules associated with name change proceedings are: MCL 711.1 through 711.3 and MCR 3.613.
Using Court Forms
Court forms are available for use in proceedings for name change. These forms follow the procedures stated in the Michigan Compiled Laws and Michigan Court Rules and can be used without the assistance of an attorney. Instructions for completing the forms are not available, but there are special instructions about the process.
When completing a form online, you must print the number of copies you will need for filing with the court and serving on the parties. See the upper right-hand corner of each form for this information. If you do not provide the court with the correct number of copies, the court might reject the form for nonconformance under the authority of Michigan Court Rule 8.119(C). Unless specifically required by court rule or statute, the court is not responsible for making copies of forms for you.
How to Begin
To start a proceeding to change your name, the name of your child, or your family's last name, you (the petitioner) must complete the Petition to Change Name, form PC 51, and file it with the circuit court in the county where you live. If you are requesting the name change of a minor who is less than 14 years old, you must file the petition where the child lives. The cost of filing your petition is $150.00.
To change the name of an adult, a minor, or the name of a family, you (the petitioner) must be a resident of the county for at least one year. Your petition must explain the reasons for your request and that the name change is not being sought with a fraudulent intent. If you have a criminal record, you are presumed to be seeking a name change with fraudulent intent and the change will not be ordered unless you can prove that your request is not for fraudulent purposes.
To change the name of a minor who is 14 years or older, the written consent to change the name of a child 14 years of age or older, signed by the child in the presence of the court, must be filed with the court before an order changing the name of the child will be entered.
To change the name of a child who is less than 14 years old, both legal parents must agree to the proposed name change. If both parents do not consent, the custodial parent must prove to the court that the noncustodial parent has not provided regular or substantial support for the child, or has not substantially complied with a court order for support, for 2 years before the filing of the petition, and that the noncustodial parent has substantially failed to contact or visit the child for 2 years before the filing of the petition. The noncustodial parent must be given legal notice of the hearing and an opportunity to object to the proposed name change. The legal parents' rights are not terminated by a name change.
The name of a child under 14 years of age may not be changed unless he or she is the natural or adopted child of the petitioner and unless consent is obtained from the mother and father jointly, from the surviving parent if one parent is deceased, or from one of the child's parents if there is only one legal parent available to give consent.
If the court considers a child to be of sufficient age to express a preference, the court will ask a child under 14 years of age about the change in his or her name and will consider the child's wishes.
See other conditions in MCL 711.1.
If you are 22 years of age or older and petitioning to have your name changed, you must have one complete set of your fingerprints taken at a local police agency. There is a fee for this. Follow the instructions provided with the Petition to Change Name, form PC 51. The fingerprints, along with a copy of the petition and the required processing fees, will be forwarded to the Michigan Department of State Police.
The Department will compare those fingerprints with its records and will forward a complete set of fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a comparison with the records available to that agency. The Department will then report to the court any information concerning any pending charges against you or a record of conviction. If there are no pending charges against you and there is no record of conviction against you, the Department will destroy its copy of your fingerprints. The court will not act upon your petition for a name change until the Department makes its report to the court.
Serving the Petition and Publishing Notice
The court will set a date, time, and place for the hearing on the petition. Notice of the hearing on a petition to change the name of a child must be served on a noncustodial parent. You can use the Notice of Hearing, form PC 562. Notice of any petition to change name must also be published. The notice must contain the proposed name and the time, date, and place of the hearing on the petition. See MCR 3.613 for details. You can use the Publication of Notice of Hearing, form PC 563.
If there is good cause (reason), the court may order that no publication of the proceeding take place and that the record of the proceeding be confidential. Good cause is defined in MCL 711.1.
The court may permit an individual having the same name, or a name similar to the one the petitioner is seeking, to intervene in the proceeding for the purpose of showing fraudulent intent.
You must attend the hearing on the date and at the place and time stated in the notice of hearing. See general information about hearings.
Note: If the petitioner is 22 years of age or older, the hearing will not be scheduled until the court receives the report from the Michigan Department of State Police. In that case, service of the petition and publication of the notice cannot occur until the hearing is actually scheduled.
Getting the Order
After the hearing, the court will prepare the order. You are required to pay a $10.00 fee to the court to enter the order. In addition, if you want a certified copy of the order, you must pay another $10.00 fee.