Ready for a new name in the "Old Line State"? While Maryland technically allows residents to change their name by consistently using a new one, updating official documents like your driver's license and Social Security card requires something more official.
How to change your name in Maryland depends on why you're seeking to change your name. We'll cover how to:
- Identify the right name change process for you;
- Find the necessary paperwork that needs to filed; and
- Start using your new name.
1. Identify and Follow the Correct Maryland Legal Name Change Process
Tying the knot is the most common time for changing names. After getting married, couples will take one partner's last name, hyphenate their names together, or agree on some form of combined name.
Maryland recognizes all of these options. Anyone can take any name after getting married in the Old Line State. You just have to do so consistently and without any fraudulent or illegal purpose.
Once married, a copy of your marriage certificate will be sufficient to change your name with the Social Security Administration and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.
Untying yourself from a marriage can be anxious, expensive, and time-consuming. Splitting up assets, arranging child custody, and figuring out your future are all part of the divorce process.
The silver lining is that going back to your former name can be accomplished at the same time. In Maryland, a divorce court will change your name back to any former name. You will have to ask for this name change and can normally do so when filling out divorce forms. The absolute decree of divorce will include the name change.
Once the decree of divorce is issued, use a copy to change your name on official records and documents.
Petition for a Change of Name
It's convenient to change your name when getting married or divorced. But outside of getting married or divorced, petitioning a court for a name change order is the best option.
Maryland residents can file a petition for change of name in their local court. This isn't as onerous as a lawsuit but still involves some of the same trappings. You'll need to submit a petition form that includes:
- Name, address, and past name history;
- The desired name change;
- Why you want to change your name;
- Certifying the name change isn't for any illegal or fraudulent purpose.
- A copy of your birth certificate, or document proving your current name, attached to the petition.
Once you file the petition, the clerk of the court will issue a notice. That notice will include the latest date by which someone can object to your name change. You'll have to publish this notice in a local newspaper at least fifteen days before that 'last date to object' deadline.
Publication is part of preventing people from fraudulently or illegally changing their name. It notifies creditors, judgment holders, and the general public in advance. Preventing fraud and illegality are major state concern when it comes to name changes.
Assuming no one objects, a court can rule on the petition without a hearing and issue an order changing your name. That order is your legal proof of a name change.
2. File the Appropriate Paperwork with Government Agencies
A marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order proves a name change. This is required for updating your driver's license, Social Security card, and similar documents.
Whichever form of proof you have, first take it to your local Social Security office to update your Social Security card. Once that's done, you can go, in-person, to the Maryland MVA to change your driver's license. An updated Social Security card and driver's license are essential to a successful name change.
3. Start Using Your New Name
Consistency is important to a name change and that involves using your new name. Inform family, friends, your employer, colleagues, banks, insurance companies, and everyone you know and interact with about your name change. Be sure to update your voter registration, credit cards, accounts, email, and social media accounts as well.
Get the Forms You Need in Maryland
Changing your name is a process, but it doesn't have to require hours of research or an expensive attorney. You have everything you need right here with the help of FindLaw. Consider using our Maryland name change forms to get you started.