The 37th Circuit Court has assembled this resource for parties seeking to represent themselves in a name change matter where one or more of the individuals whose name will be changed is a child under the age of 18. Courts and Court personnel are prohibited by law from giving legal advice. This website is not a substitute for legal advice from an attorney but is intended only to provide parties the relevant court forms and instructions for their use.
To download a packet with these instructions and forms that you can fill out in paper, click here: Minor Child name change forms packet
If you intend to change your own name in the same petition as the one seeking a new name for your minor child, please see the instructions specific to Adults.
HELP: Additional help is available, at no cost, at the Michigan Legal Help website. The Michigan Legal Help website helps parties prepare their court forms online for free. Name Change court forms and instructions at Michigan Legal Help can be accessed Here
Click here for contact information for Michigan Legal Help Self Help Centers in Calhoun County
FEES: There is a filing fee of $175.00 that must be paid at the time of filing by check or money order made payable to “37th Judicial Circuit.”
If you are not able to afford the filing fee you may qualify for a waiver of the fee. A “Fee Waiver Request” form can be downloaded as a fillable PDF: Fee Waiver Request
A fee waiver from the Court does not waive fees that must be paid other agencies such as to a newspaper for publication, service fees if you have to serve another party, and/or the fee paid to the State for amending the birth certificate. Those fees are owed directly to those third parties, not to the Court.
FILING: File a “Petition to Change Name” (Form PC51) and required documents to start the process of changing your name. A Petition to Change Name can be downloaded as a fillable PDF at: Petition to Change Name
BIRTH CERTIFICATE: A certified copy of the child(ren)’s Birth Certificate must be filed with Petition to Change Name.
CONSENT OF INTERESTED PARTIES: If both parents and/or any child over the age of 14 consents to the name change, proof of that consent must be filed at the time your Petition is filed or your Petition will be rejected. If the parents are married, consent of both parents is required.
Forms to document the consent of an interested party can be downloaded at:
CUSTODY ORDER/PROOF OF NON-PAYMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT: If you are not married to the other parent of the child whose name you want to change and that parent does not consent to the child’s name change, you must file additional documents when you file your Petition. If there exists a court case for the custody and support of the child, you MUST file a copy of your last court order and a record of child support payments for the past two years at the time you file or your Petition will be rejected.
HOW TO FILL OUT THE PETITION TO CHANGE NAME:
- Paragraph #1: Indicate any previous court cases such as a support, divorce, paternity, custody and parent time, name change, adoption, neglect/abuse, guardianship, delinquency
- Paragraph #2: Indicate whether petition is only to change your child’s name or whether your and/or your spouse is included in the petition. (If an adult is included, see instructions for adults.)
- Paragraph #3: You must say why you want to change your child’s name.
- Paragraph #4: Attest that the name change is not sought for any fraudulent intent. You cannot change your child’s name for fraudulent reasons. Fraudulent reasons include wanting to deceive someone, including the child’s other parent.
- Paragraph #5 – Name any petitioner(s) that has/have a criminal record. Every person who wants their name changed must answer but only those aged 22 years old or older require criminal history background check. (See instructions for adults for details.)
- Paragraph #6 – Attest that each child for whom a name change is sought has been a resident of Calhoun County for at least one year.
- Paragraph #7 – See details below for how to complete this section regarding minor child/ren.
- Paragraph #8 – List the current first, middle, and last name of each Petitioner (under the column “From”) and the first, middle, and last name that the Petitioner wants (under the column “To”) and each Petitioner’s date of birth.
- Paragraph #9 - If you want to seal your child’s original birth certificate, you must indicate that at this paragraph.
Before filing with the clerk, you must sign the Petition and make a copy of the signed Petition for each interested party. You will serve the other interested parties with a copy of your Petition.
COMMON REASONS FOR PETITIONS TO BE REJECTED/DENIED:
AT TIME OF FILING:
• No check or money order for filing fee.
• Petitioner does not provide a certified copy of child’s Birth Certificate.
• Petitioner fails to provide a copy of custody order and child support history (If contested by the other parent).
• Petitioner(s) have not signed the Petition. If the parents are married, both parents must sign the Petition. Or if unmarried parents both consent to the name change, both parents must either sign the Petition or a Waiver.
• Child older than the age of 14 has not signed a Consent form.
AT TIME OF HEARING:
• Failure to meet requirement to publish notice of name change in a local newspaper.
• Petitioner did not personally serve a copy of the Notice of Hearing and Petition to Change Name to the other parent and file the Proof of Service with the court.
INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO COMPLETE PARAGRAPH 7 OF THE PETITION WHEN ONLY ONE PARENT REQUESTS THE NAME CHANGE:
If the parents are married, both parents must sign the Petition. If both parents (married or unmarried) agree to the name change, skip the questions about legal custody at Paragraph 7 and simply have both parents sign the Petition under “Signature of Parent/Guardian for Minor” or have the non-petitioning parent submit a signed Waiver/Consent to Name Change.
Paragraph 7 of the Petition must be completed if the parents are not married or are separated and only one parent seeks to change the child’s name. The petitioning parent will be required to personally serve the other parent with notice of the Petition so that the other parent has an opportunity to object.
If you want to ask the judge to change your child’s name without the other parent agreeing, you must be a custodial parent. A custodial parent has sole or joint legal custody of the child.
If the custodial parent requests the name change and the other parent (referred to as the noncustodial parent) objects to the name change, the judge may still approve the name change if the custodial parent establishes certain facts.
A custodial parent seeking to change the child’s name over the objection of the non-custodial parent must prove several things:
- The noncustodial parent had the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the minor child(ren), but has regularly failed or neglected to contact the minor child(ren) in the last two years. -AND-
- The noncustodial parent had the ability to pay child support but did not provide for the minor child(ren) with substantial support for the last two years. Involuntary payments collected by the Friend of the Court through income withholding or through tax offsets may be sufficient proof of substantial support if the noncustodial parent has paid through those involuntary methods.
REQUIREMENTS TO PROVE THAT YOU HAVE NOTIFIED THE OTHER PARENT:
1. PERSONAL SERVICE:
• You must personally serve the noncustodial parent the petition to change name.
• Once you have served the required documents on the noncustodial parent, you must fill out a Proof of Service form indicating what documents were served and how they were served.
• You must personally serve the petition on the noncustodial parent at least 14 days prior to the scheduled hearing.
2. ALTERNATE SERVICE:
• If the other parent’s whereabouts are unknown after attempts to locate them, you may file a Motion and Verification for Alternate Service
• You may need to consult an attorney for any legal help in order to achieve alternate service.
• Employees of the court and/or the clerk may not give legal advice on this process.
PUBLICATION: All notices of name change hearings must be published in a local newspaper. This gives people your child’s name change may affect a chance to object.
When your hearing is scheduled, the Court will mail you a “Publication of Notice of Hearing” for Name Change form with the date and time of the Court has scheduled for your hearing.
You must contact a local newspaper immediately to ask them to publish your notice. The cost will vary depending on the newspaper. Two local options in Calhoun County are:
• Battle Creek Shopper News: Attention J-Ad Graphics, Fax (269)968-8586, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost is $60.10.
• Battle Creek Enquirer: Attn: Legals/Kelly, P.O. Box 787, Neptune, NJ 07753. Cost is $63.50.
The newspaper must complete the details of the Affidavit of Publication that must list the qualifications of newspaper and the dates the notice was published. The publication must say: “The result of the hearing may be to bar or affect any interested persons interest in the above matter.” Some newspapers have a standard affidavit form they use. If the newspaper publishing your notice does not, you may download an Affidavit of Publication Form.
After the newspaper publishes the notice of hearing, they will provide you with a copy of the published notice and Affidavit of Publication. YOU MUST SUBMIT THOSE TO THE COURT (THE NEWSPAPER WILL NOT DO IT FOR YOU)! The judge will NOT hold a hearing on your petition without receiving the required Affidavit of Publication and a copy of the published notice!
The Notice of Hearing must be published at least 14 days prior to the hearing.
The Affidavit of Publication must be filed 7 days prior to your hearing date, or you risk your petition being dismissed and having to start your petition over!
HEARING: On the day of your hearing, bring any documents that are related to your name change. It is always a good idea to have two copies of the documents, so you can give the judge one. If your petition is approved, the judge will complete and sign the order. If you want a certified copy of the order, it costs another $10.
AMENDED BIRTH CERTIFICATE: If your child was born in Michigan, to obtain a copy of a new birth certificate, you will need to submit a certified copy of your court order, an application form, and a fee to: State of Michigan, Department of Public Health, 3423 N. Logan Street, PO Box 30195, Lansing, Michigan 48909.
The Application to Correct or Change a Michigan Birth Record form is in the downloadable forms packet or may be downloaded here.
If child was not born in Michigan, you will have to contact the office responsible for vital records in the State in which they were born.