Maryland state law provides its residents with a straightforward process to legally change their names in one of the state circuit courts, provided it doesn’t relate to a marriage or divorce. As long as you familiarize yourself with the Maryland procedures prior to initiating a court case to change your legal name, people will be addressing you by your new name in no time.
Locate the circuit court that has jurisdiction over your name change case. Maryland state law requires that you commence your legal name change case in the circuit court of the county where you reside. If you live in the city of Baltimore, the 8th Circuit Court, rather than the 3rd Circuit Court that covers Baltimore County, is the appropriate venue.
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Prepare the “Petition for Change of Name” on Form DOM REL 60. The petition is the legal document that initiates your case for a name change; it requires personal information such as your date and location of birth, prior name changes since birth, the new name you are requesting and the reasons for the request.
Complete the “Order for Change of Name.” Fill out all blank sections of the form except for the judge’s signature and date.
Fill out a “Notice for Publication” on Form DOM REL 61. Complete only the top portion of the form that identifies your current name, new name and the name of the court.
File the order and petition with the clerk of the court. When filing the order and petition, you must also attach a copy of your birth certificate to them. The clerk of the circuit court in your county will inform you of the procedures, as well as the fee you must pay at the time of filing.
Publish a notice of your pending name change in a newspaper that circulates in your county. The court clerk will complete the remaining information on DOM REL 61. You must publish this notice in a newspaper that circulates in your county at least 15 days prior to the date the notice provides for other parties to object to your name change.
Attend final hearing with a circuit court judge. The court will only schedule a hearing if the judge has questions or objections to your name change. Otherwise, the judge will sign the Order for Change of Name and the court will mail it to you.
The notice publication procedures in each county can vary. Some courts will arrange for publication of the notice, whereas other will impose that responsibility on you. However, it’s always your responsibility to pay the newspaper for publishing the notice.
The Maryland Judiciary website publishes standard petition, order and notice forms that allow you to fill in the missing information rather than having to draft original documents.
You should contact the Social Security Administration and the Department of Motor Vehicles soon after you receive the signed order. Possession of a driver’s license and Social Security card with your new name are vital pieces of identification that other institutions may require before recognizing your new name.
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