There can be many reasons for which you need to change your name, the name of your child, or your family’s last name. The procedures to do so can be complex though, and vary depending on whether or not there is minor child involved. In order to start the proceedings, the petitioner must file a Petition to Change Name in the Circuit court for the county where you, or the child, lives (and have lived for the past year).
Your petition must include the reasons for your request, and assurance that the name change is not sought with fraudulent intent. If the Petitioner has a criminal record the intent will be presumed fraudulent and that presumption is only rebutted if you can prove the request is for legitimate purposes. If this presumption is rebutted and the name change is granted, the Michigan State Police will be notified to update their records. Anyone over the age of 22 must be fingerprinted, which is not a free service. The fingerprints will be forwarded to the Michigan State Department of Police, who will also forward the fingerprints to the FBI. Both the Police and the FBI will compare your fingerprints to their records, and the Michigan State Police will prepare a report indicating if you have a criminal record, or any outstanding charges.
Your petition may not move forward until the report is filed with the Court, and then the fingerprints will be destroyed. A hearing date will be set, which will need to be published to allow anyone with the same or a similar name to intervene with an opportunity to demonstrate fraudulent intent. Once the publishing requirement is satisfied, and the fingerprint report issued, you will need to attend the hearing. If successful you will be given an order, and will have to pay fees associated with that. This order will serve as proof of your name change for any new documents needed, including a birth certificate which may be obtained through the Department of Community Health.
Issues: Specific to Minors:
When attempting to do a name change for a child under the age of 14, MCL 711.1 applies and institutes some additional requirements. The name of a child under 14 years of age may not be changed unless he or she is the natural or adopted child of the petitioner and unless consent is obtained from the mother and father jointly, from the surviving parent if one parent is deceased, or from one of the child’s parents if there is only one legal parent available to give consent. The Court may determine the child is of sufficient age to express a preference, and in that case their wishes will be taken into consideration. For children 14 years of age or older, written consent of the child must be signed in open court. The petition must be filed in the county where the child lives regardless of age. Children do not need to be fingerprinted, but there is a service requirement. Once the date of the hearing is set it must be served on a noncustodial parent. Additionally, after entry of the order unless the Court orders than it is confidential, the order must be served on the noncustodial parent.
To ensure your name change is processed expediently without getting hung up on any common pitfalls, give us a call. The attorneys of Garmo & Kiste, PLC have done many name changes in the family courts surrounding the Metro Detroit area. Let our experience work for you!
To retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC, for assistance in these matters call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message. We are experienced Michigan attorneys with offices in Troy, MI.