NAME CHANGES 

The 37th Circuit Court has assembled this website as a resource for parties seeking to represent themselves in a name change matter. Courts and Court personnel are prohibited by law from giving legal advice. This resource 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.

The instructions and forms described on this page for a name change case for an adult can be downloaded as a packet Here

If you intend to change the name of a minor child, please see instructions and forms for a name change case involving Minor child/ren

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 can be found here

Click for Contact Information for Michigan Legal Help self help centers located in Calhoun County.

FEES: There is a filing fee of $175.00 that must be paid to the Court 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.   Download a fillable PDF of the Fee Waiver Request.

A fee waiver from the Court does not waive fees that must be paid other agencies such as to law enforcement for fingerprinting, 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.

Download a fillable PDF copy of the Petition to Change Name

BIRTH CERTIFICATE: A certified copy of the Birth Certificate of each person who is requesting a name change must be filed with Petition to Change Name. If your current name does not match your birth certificate, please file supporting documentation such as a Marriage Certificate and Judgment of Divorce when  you file your Petition

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 name or whether a spouse or child is included in the petition. (If a child is included, see instructions for children.)
  • Paragraph #3: You must say why you want to change your name. 
  • Paragraph #4: Attest that the name change is not sought for any fraudulent intent. You cannot change your name for fraudulent reasons.  Fraudulent reasons include wanting to deceive creditors or escape a criminal history.
  • Paragraph #5 – Name any petitioner(s) that has/have a criminal record. Every person who wants their name changed will be asked if they have a criminal record but only those aged 22 years old or older are required to apply to the Michigan State Police for criminal history background check. (See Criminal Background Check below.)
  • Paragraph #6 – Attest that each person for whom a name change is sought has been a resident of Calhoun County for at least one year.
  • Paragraph #7 – Information about any minor child included in the Petition. (If a child is included, see separate instructions for children.)
  • 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 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 each interested party 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 a Birth Certificate or other supporting documents about the current name you are seeking to change.
    • Petitioner has not signed the Petition.
  • AT TIME OF HEARING:

CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK: Every person 22 years of age or older who is requesting a name change must have a criminal background check.

  • When: Immediately after filing your petition with the court to avoid delaying your hearing. The reason the case is filed with the court first is because you must give the case number assigned to your case by this court when you fill out your fingerprint card.
  • Where: Make an appointment to be fingerprinted with a local police agency. The cost to get fingerprinted varies between local agencies in the County.
  • How: Mail your fingerprint cards, a copy of your Petition to Change Name, and a check or money order made out to “State of Michigan” for $43.25 (per person) to:

Michigan State Police Department, CJIC, P.O. Box 30266, Lansing, MI 48909

  • What Next? When the MSP have completed a search of state police records and have gotten information requested from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the MSP will mail your completed background check directly to the court. This usually takes 3-5 weeks. The /court will not schedule your hearing for your name change until after we receive the report from the Michigan State Police!!

PUBLICATION: All notices of name change hearings must be published in a local newspaper. This gives people your name change may affect (like your creditors) a chance to object.

When the court gets your criminal background report from the Michigan State Police, it will schedule a hearing. 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 erin@j-adgraphics.com. 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 with the court at least seven days prior to your hearing date, or you risk your petition being dismissed and having to start 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 you were 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.

Download an Application to Correct or Change a Michigan Birth Record

If you were not born in Michigan, you will have to contact the office responsible for vital records in the State in which you were born.

GENDER IDENTIFIERS: The Court cannot change your Gender Identifier, however, per Michigan Vital Records, upon completion of a name change hearing, when the parties file an Application to Correct or Change a Michigan Birth Record form, an individual can change their gender identity if they also attach a medical affidavit from the doctor that performed the gender reassignment surgery. If you have further questions, please contact Vital Records at 517-335-8666.

To change the gender marker on your Michigan ID or driver’s license, complete the Michigan Secretary of State Sex Designation Form  This form does not require any medical treatment or surgical history in order to change your gender marker. When you sign the form, you are swearing the reason you want to change the gender marker is so that your ID can accurately reflect your identity.