Massachusetts Probate and Family Court Issues New Rules for Name Change Petitions

Attorney Kimberley Keyes reviews new changes to the Probate and Family Court’s name change procedures in Massachusetts.

Our Massachusetts name-change blogs have covered a lot of territory. We have blogged about the legal procedure for name changes in Massachusetts, as well as the many steps a person who changes his or her name must take after the name change is complete. As I wrote in my blog on the legal procedure for name changes:

For most Petitioners, completing publication is the hard part. Once a Petitioner returns the citation and clipping(s), usually all they must do is wait for the “return date” on the citation to expire. The purpose of the return date is simply to provide the public the opportunity to object to the name change after publication has been completed. If, after public notice is proven, the return date has expired, and no one objects to the change of name (and assuming the application and publication were proper), then the Court issues a Decree (Judgment) establishing the new name, administratively. There is no need for a hearing.

Once a person legally changes their name, however, often the real work begins, as individuals must submit documentation to everyone from the RMV to the Social Security Administration:

Although the multi-step process may seem arduous, and certainly involves legal issues and paperwork, the real legwork comes after the Decree of Name Change is allowed and issued by the Court.

Massachusetts Updates Rules on Name Change Petitions

The Probate and Family Court recently announced modifications to the procedures required to change the name of an adult or minor child (or children) in Massachusetts. Practice XXXV of the Uniform Practices, “Change of Name Actions,” took effect on August 1. It replaced the previous, somewhat confusing change-of-name forms with substantially revised, reformatted and renumbered forms. According to the Court, the “overall purpose of the Practice is to clarify procedural omissions in the controlling statute, G.L. c. 210, § 12 et seq.”

The Practice, among other things, provides separate forms for changing the name of an adult versus changing the name of a minor child, and makes clear the notice requirements in change of name actions for both adults and minors, including the statutory requirement to provide notice to the public by publication in all cases.

The new forms, which are required for use beginning July 20, 2018, can be accessed here. Previous versions of the forms are no longer accepted for filing.

Changes Do Not Affect Names Changes in Divorce Cases

If you are getting divorced, you can still resume your former name by requesting the name change be incorporated into the Judgment of Divorce, without having to file a separate petition. However, if you do not request to be allowed to resume your former name as part of your divorce – or you wish to change your name to a new name post-divorce – you must follow the procedures outlined in the new Practice XXXV.

About the Author: Kimberley Keyes is a Massachusetts divorce lawyer and Massachusetts family law attorney for Lynch & Owens, located in Hingham, Massachusetts and East Sandwich, Massachusetts. She is also a mediator for South Shore Divorce Mediation.

Schedule a free consultation with Kimberley Keyes today at (781) 253-2049 or send her an email.

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