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To change the name of a child or minor other than in connection with an adoption or divorce a petition for name change needs to be filed in Maryland circuit court in the county where the child is a resident. Under some circumstances court order is not required.Read the law: MD Rule 15-901.
Q. I am a sixteen year old stepson and I want to change my last name from my birth father's name to my stepfather's name. Can I do this with a simple name change or must I be adopted?
A. You do not need to be adopted by your stepfather, but your birth father will have the right to object to the name change. Court rules require that a copy of your name change petition be given ("served") to your parents or custodians. Keep in mind that changing your name will not change your birth father's legal obligation toward you. This is different from an adoption. In an adoption, the rights and obligations of the natural parent are terminated.
Q. After my husband and I are divorced and I have returned to my former name, can I change the last name of my children as well?
A. Yes. You may file a Petition for Name Change for a minor child if:
the requirements of Maryland Rule 15-901
If a child is under 12 months, you may not need a court order. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene can change the name if both parents agree. Read the law: MD Code, Health General 4-214
If both parents do not consent to the name change, then you may ask the court to decide. The court will look at the “best interest of the child." The court will look at the following to decide what is in your child’s best interest:
The court will also consider any additional factors that will help the court decide the best interest of the child/ren.
Important Note about Paternity and Name Change– If your children have their father’s last name, a name change for the child will not change the father’s legal status or responsibility. A name change does not affect the rights and/or duties of either parent. As a parent, you will still have the same obligation for care of the child, pay child support, visit, rights of inheritance, or other legal rights and/or obligations.
Maryland Law Encyclopedia, 16 Md. L. Ency. Names § 3 (2012).
This site offers legal information, not legal advice. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney. The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site. In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”