In this article, we cover the forms and process for a name change for a minor. If you are an adult who wants to change their name (or gender marker) please see our guide for adults: How to change your name and gender marker in Maine.
Every Probate Court in Maine is independent and may do things differently from each other. We suggest that you call the Probate Court in your county before filing so you can confirm their specific requirements.
Where can I file to change a minor's name?
To change your name, or the name of a minor in your care, you will usually need to file a petition with the Probate Court in the county where you live. But, if a case involving the same minor child is already pending in District Court, you will file your Petition there. The other case might be any matter involving custody or other parental rights. If you are unsure where to file your case read our guide: Adoption, Guardianship of a Minor, Child Name Change and Maine's Home Court Act: When, where and how to file the Jurisdictional Affidavit
Who can file to change a minor's name?
A parent or guardian can file to change a minor’s name. When parents or guardians are filing, it is easiest when both sign the petition together. It is possible for one parent or guardian to petition without the signature or agreement from the other parent/guardian, but both parents or guardians must usually be notified (more on this below).
If you are a minor your parents or guardians will need to file for you. The only exception is if you are an emancipated minor. You can request a name change during emancipation proceedings. Learn more about emancipation of minors in Maine.
What do I need to file with the Probate Court?
- Name Change Petition for Minor (Form NC-001)
- Jurisdictional Affidavit (Form AF-101)
Courts use a Jurisdictional Affidavit to find out about all the cases involving a child, and to figure out which court – the Probate Court or the District Court - has the power to make decisions about the child. This is because of a Maine law, the Home Court Act, which is designed to prevent more than one case about the same child from happening in different courts.
Learn more about the Home Court Act in our guide: Adoption, Guardianship of a Minor, Child Name Change and Maine's Home Court Act: When, where and how to file the Jurisdictional Affidavit
- Filing Fee (amount may vary) or a fee waiver request (AF-105)
- Certified copy of the minor's Birth Certificate
- Any court orders having to do with your rights and responsibilities over the minor child (examples: divorce or parental rights judgments; guardianship orders, or Form VS-14, if you want your name to be changed on your birth certificate automatically)
Who may petition for a minor's name change?
A parent or guardian may petition to change a minor’s name.
When parents or guardians are filing, it is easiest when both sign the petition together. But, starting in the Fall of 2021, it is possible for one parent or guardian to petition without the signature or agreement from the other parent/guardian. But, both parents (or legal guardians) must usually be given notice (more on this below).
It is also possible for a minor to request a name change during emancipation proceedings, or file for their own name change if they are already emancipated.
Who do I need to notify to change the name of a minor?
Parents and legal guardians are entitled to notice of the name change petition. Other parties might also be entitled to notice, including a guardian ad litem or a state agency with custody of the minor. If the other parent or guardian disagrees with the name change, they have a right to show up to the hearing and explain their side.
Notice to other parents or guardians is required
The parent or guardian who is petitioning to change the minor’s name will need to make sure the other parent or guardian is notified.
If the other parent or guardian disagrees with the name change, they have a right to show up to the hearing and explain their side. If they agree with the name change, the non-petitioning parent or guardian can waive their right to notice by signing the form N-107. If the other parent does not respond or appear in court, the judge will presume they do not object to the name change.
What if it isn’t safe to notify the other parent?
If you are worried about your safety or the safety of the child, you can request an exception to the notice requirement. Please reach out to us or contact the Probate Clerk if you have questions or want to explore this further.
What if I do not know where the other parent is?
If you need to give notice to the other parent, but do not know where they are, the Judge may ask to have a conference with you. They may require you to file an ‘affidavit of diligent search’, a document showing what you have done to locate the missing parent.
What if I do not know the name of the other parent?
If the name of the other parent is unknown, the Judge of Probate may ask to have a conference with the parent filing for the name change to decide how to give notice.
How do I notify the other parent or guardian I am asking to change a minor’s name?
The probate clerk can tell you how the notice should be served on the other parent. We recommend calling the clerk to check how they do this.
If the notice was delivered by ‘personal service by sheriff,’ you may get a form from the sheriff's office once they have served the other parent. You should save the form and file it with the probate court.
If notice is served by certified, restricted delivery mail, you may need to complete an ‘affidavit of service.’. You would attach a copy of the notice served along with the green return receipt card from the post office.
What happens once the fees are paid and papers are filed?
The Petition and supporting documents are recorded by the court on the ‘docket’ or court schedule. A ‘return date’ is assigned.
Possible Hearing: In some courts the return date is when you need to come to court or appear on zoom for a hearing. If someone comes to court on that date to object to the name change the Judge may hold a hearing that day.
Some probate courts do not require a hearing. In this case, the 'return date’ is the last day someone could file an objection to the name change petition. Once this date passes, the judge will most likely approve the petition and issue the certificate of name change.
For minors, if there is a contested hearing (where the parents or guardians disagree) the Judge will consider ‘Best Interest factors’ to determine whether to grant the name change. This includes listening to the minor’s own preference and expressions of what they want, and harms caused by continuing to use their current legal name. If the minor is 14 years old or older, the Judge will probably want to hear from them directly and give weight to the minor’s expressed wishes.
Do I have to update my birth certificate, too? If I want to, how do I change a birth record to reflect the name change?
There is no legal requirement at this time for you to change your birth record. But, you may want to amend the birth record for your own peace of mind or just because you would prefer to do so.
If the birth took place in the State of Maine, the probate court can provide you with the form VS-14, Notification of Legal Change of Name. The probate court will forward this form to Vital Records in Augusta.
The fee for amending the birth record is currently $60.00. This fee is paid to the Treasurer, State of Maine. You will receive a new birth record directly from the Vital Records office.
If the birth took place outside the State of Maine, you will need to contact the place of birth yourself to find out what is required of them to amend the birth record.
Note: If you are also considering changing your gender marker on your birth certificate, it may make sense to wait to file the VS-14 and instead update your name and gender marker on your birth certificate at the same time.