The state of Maryland makes it very easy for residents to change their last name for any reason--whether it is because they are getting married, divorced or simply unsatisfied with their current name. Unlike other states that require individuals to petition the court to legalize the name change, Maryland has a "usage" law, which allows individuals to change their first or last names at any time simply by beginning to use their new name. Residents can also change their names by getting married or petitioning the name change in court.
Changing Your Last Name in Maryland Through Usage
Choose a new last name and begin using it immediately. According to the state's usage law, residents of Maryland are permitted to change their name at any time, for any reason, without needing to petition the change in court.
Begin notifying your family members, friends, business associates and companies that you do business with about your name change.
Understand that the one drawback to changing your name this way is that some businesses and government agencies require proof of the name change before they will honor your new name. Unless you have gotten married and can supply a marriage certificate, your request won't be honored without a signed court document.
Changing Your Last Name in Maryland by Marriage
Choose a new last name. If you are a woman getting married, you may be planning on taking your husband's last name, or choosing to use a hyphenated name that incorporates both your name and your husband's last name. However, it is not just women who change their name upon getting married these days. More men are choosing to change their names as well--either by taking their wife's last name, hyphenating their last name or creating an entirely new last name.
Change your name after marriage by notifying the Motor Vehicle Association in Maryland and the Social Security Administration of your name change. You'll also need to let family, friends, business associates, credit card companies and loan holders know of your name change.
Show a certified copy of your marriage license to have the name on your social security card changed. Passports, loan companies and some credit card companies also require a marriage certificate. Because marriage certificates serve as appropriate proof of a name change in Maryland, there is no need to petition the court for a legal name change.
Changing Your Last Name in Maryland by Petitioning the Court
Choose a new last name. Then, petition the court for a legal name change by filing paperwork with the district circuit court in the county in which you live.
Download a copy of the Petition for Change of Name form or obtain a copy from the circuit court. The online form can be accessed on the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts website.
Complete all of the required fields and check over your responses carefully to make sure that everything has been answered completely and accurately. On the petition, you'll need to fill in information regarding your current name, your requested name change, the reason for the name change and any prior name changes you've used in your lifetime. Enclose a copy of your birth certificate with the completed forms.
File the completed forms and birth certificate with the civil clerk's office in your county courthouse. You'll need to pay a fee to process your petition. If you cannot afford the fee, you can ask the court to waive the fee because of a financial hardship. A judge at the courthouse will determine whether to accept or deny your hardship request.
Publish a notice in the newspaper that announces your name change. The announcement must be printed at least 15 days prior to the deadline for filing an objection to your name change request. Whether you or the civil clerk arranges for the newspaper publication of your name change varies from county to county. You'll need to check with the clerk's office to determine how it is handled in your county. Once the notice is published, the newspaper will send you a Certificate of Publication that must be filed with the court. Once this step is complete, the Petition is sent to a judge for review.
- If you are changing your last name for a reason besides marriage, it is advised that you petition the name change in court. This will give you documented proof of the name change that may be necessary when changing your name on your U.S. Passport or loan documents, for example.
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