Parents in Massachusetts are permitted to change the name of their child as long as the minor is in their legal custody. Anyone under the age of eighteen (18) is considered a minor. In order to legally change their child’s name, the parent or legal guardian must file a petition with their county court.
The petitioner can be listed as the minor child and the legal parents or guardian would present the petition to the court. You have to give notice to the other parent or both parents if there is a guardian. There is a variety of paperwork that needs to be done including a Petition for a Change of Name of a Minor and you need to bring a certified copy of the Birth Certificate. There has to be criminal records check or CARI for anyone over 18.
This is important, if the child is 12 or older, they need a notarized approval or assent that is on the Petition and will have to provide if either the parents or legal guardian passes away, you have to provide a death certificate along with an Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody and again, the assent to change the child’s name.
There can be a situation where you might have to publish the citation or the notice in a newspaper and serve the paperwork once it has been processed through the court to the other parents unless the parents have had their parental rights terminated. You do not need to do this if there is an adoption that is going forward that will be part of the adoption. There can be objections and if there are, the court will have a hearing or a trial. I have had trials where one parent objects to the name change and the court make a determination if the name change should occur and if it is in the child’s best interest.