To change your name in Maine, you will have to file a "Change of Name" petition with the Probate Court in the county where you live.
Each county in Maine has its own Probate Court, which is run by the county. Since these courts are run by the counties, and not by the state, the process for changing your name will be a little different in each county.
This guide will explain the general process, and try to answer some of the most common questions about this issue. We have done our best to break down some of the most important details for each county, and you can learn more about the process in the county you live in by clicking on the name of that county below.
If you live in New England, you may be able to get free legal representation through the GLAD Pop-Up ID Project. From GLAD: "Transgender people living in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island or Vermont) seeking to update their legal name and gender on federal and state documents can receive free legal representation through this rapid-response program."
Which Probate Court do I go to if I want to change my name?
You will need to "file" – give to the Court – a "Change of Name" petition with your local Probate Court. This will be the court in the county where you live now. Look up your local Probate Court here.
Do I have to be on hormones or have had surgery to get my name changed?
No. To change your name in Maine you don't need to be on hormones, have had any kind of surgery, or even have a letter from a doctor. People change their names for a lot of different reasons, there aren't any extra requirements if you're trans or gender non-conforming.
What forms do I need, and where can I get them?
For a name change in Maine, the basic form you will need is CN-1 Petition for Change of Name(Adult). Most Probate Courts also have another form, called an "affidavit." You will need to have the affidavit "notarized" – this means a notary public will have to watch you sign the affidavit, see some proof of your identity (like a driver's license or other government issued photo ID), and also sign the affidavit. Notaries are often available at town offices, banks, and the courts. They usually only charge a small fee, or no fee at all.
You can get all of these forms at your county Probate Court for a small fee ($1- $5). You may also print them from our website – but be aware that forms sometimes change, and the Court may ask you to use a form you get from them.
What else should I bring?
You should bring:
Some courts will ask for proof that you live in the county where the Probate Court is located - your photo ID would work for this. If you don't have an ID, another kind of document, like a utility bill in your name, a voter registration card, or a bank statement may be accepted to prove where you live.
Some courts also require you to bring a certified copy of your birth certificate. This should be a recent copy, one that you got within the last 6 months. We have tried to include information on which counties require this, but to be sure, you should call your local Probate Court and ask whether or not you need to bring this to file for your name change.
What does this process look like?
It really does depend on which court you are in. Here are some of the most important things to know about this process, in general. Once you have read this, click on your county below to learn more about the particulars of how name changes are handled in that court.
What to expect in each county
Click on your county below to learn more about:
- fee waivers
- background checks
- additional documents to bring
Disclaimer: Information about fees and court processes could change. These courts are run on a county level, and we may not get notice of any changes. These county specific details are accurate as of 11/14/2016
Filling out the forms
Once you have the forms, you will need to fill them out. There are two basic forms.
Filing the forms
Once you fill out the forms, you can give them to the clerk at the Probate Court. If you aren't sure who to give the forms to, you can ask one of the staff at the courthouse.
You will need to pay the fees when you file the forms with the Court.
What happens once the fees are paid and papers are filed?
The Petition and supporting documents are recorded by the Court on the "docket." Docket is just a term for the way the courts keep track of their schedule of cases. A date, called a "return date" will be assigned to your case. The return date is the date that will be published in the newspaper and is the date that goes on any required notice.
In some courts the return date is when you need to come to court for a hearing. If someone comes to court on that date to object to the name change the Judge may hear it on that date.
In some courts the return date is used as the last date a person can file a written objection. Once the written objection is filed, the Court will set a different date for a contested hearing.
Next, the Petition is published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the petition is filed. You can click on your county above to find out which newspaper that court usually uses.
A note on objections
People don't usually object to name changes unless the person changing their name owes them money. That is really one of the only reasons the Probate Court might deny a name change if someone objects.
Even though this is the case, discrimination - from community or family members - is a possibility. If someone is objecting to your name change because they just don't agree with what you are doing, or because they are trying to embarrass or harass you, call the GLAD Legal Helpline.
As terrible as this situation might be, remember that the Court should not reject your name change based on these kinds of objections.
Do I need to come to the hearing?
Some courts require you to come to the hearing. Others don't. You will need to ask the Probate Office in the county where you reside whether or not you need to go to the hearing.
If the name change petition is contested (if someone objects) you will need to go to the hearing and present testimony to the Judge of Probate. Again, this is not something that usually happens.
If your name change is approved by the Judge, the probate court will mail you a Certificate of Name Change (this is important, it's official proof of your name change!). You can start using your new legal name on official documents, and you can start the process of having your legal name reflected on your ID documents. You can read more about these processes in the next steps of this guide.