So You Want to Change Your Name

Many people want to change their name and for many reasons.

Here are some of those reasons:

  • They don’t like their name
  • A mistake or omission has occurred with regard to the name on the birth certificate
  • Parents of a child can’t agree on a name, especially the surname (last name)
  • In a divorce a spouse does not want to continue the surname of their spouse or in an adoption, the child will be named using the surname of the parties or joint names- hyphenated
  • A person’s gender is change and the desire is to have the first name to be compatible with their gender. i.e., Michelle to Michael or
  • Over the years the individual whose name needs to be changed has gone by a different name and a government agency ( federal or state) will not issue a license or document unless the name is legally changed by the court.

My father and his brother were born with the surname Entenberg and they did not like it. So, in the 1930s, they changed their surname to Antenberg but they did not change it through the court system. It was never a problem for me but in high school, college, and law school, I was typically called on first!

In Maryland, and in most other states or jurisdictions, laws affecting name change are in place to prevent a name change for an illegal, fraudulent, or immoral purpose. Some individuals seek to avoid creditor claims while others have a criminal record. These individuals believe that if they change their name, they can escape ever paying their creditors or having a prospective employer finding out they have a criminal record. Most state statutes require the applicant/petitioner to publish their Notice of Change of Name in a widely circulated newspaper in order to enable others, within a short window of time, to object to the name change. A creditor or any person who wishes to object to the name change must notify the court immediately of the objection.

The first step in the name change process is to decide on the name. We caution people, particularly parents, not to select names that cannot be readily understood, spoken, and/or written. My first name is spelled Fredric, yet there are many ways to spell my first name, i.e., Frederic, Fredrick, and Frederick. Also, select a first name that your son or daughter will like and be proud of when he/she is made partner, promoted, or introduced.

The second step is have us prepare the petition along with the necessary documents and submit it to the appropriate court. Once the name is ordered to be changed by the court, there will be the need to change the name on the birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license, passport, and with governmental agencies and on numerous documents such as a deed to your residence.

Most litigation in name change cases occur where the parents do not agree on their child’s name. Cases often arise where one of the parties unilaterally registered the child’s name on the birth certificate and at some time in the future, the other parent wants to change the child’s name with the preferred name of the petitioning parent. For these cases, the court will examine whether or not it is in the best interests of the child to have his or her name changed.

Fred Antenberg is a Family Law attorney who has for decades successfully represented persons through the name change process in Howard County and in surrounding counties of Central Maryland. Call Fred at 410 730 4404 to have your name changed.