How to obtain a legal name change in Montana
When is it possible to obtain a legal name change in Montana?
Either an adult or child can change his or her name, and must simply give a reason for the change of name. When a person is able to change his or her name he is not specifically limited to certain scenarios such as marriage or divorce. MCA 46-23-505 requires any offender who is required to register to appear within three business days of the change in name and give notification of the change to the registration agency with whom the offender last registered.
Who can get a name change?
Any person, adult or minor, can get a name change. He or she must provide a reason for the name change. If the person seeking the name change is a minor, (under 18 years of age) the petition must be signed by one of the minor’s parents, if living. If both parents are dead, the minor’s guardian can sign. If there is no guardian, the petition can be signed by a near relative or friend.
What steps must be taken?
All applications for a change of name must be filed with the District Court of the county where the person seeking a name change resides. The petition must be signed by the person seeking the name change. The petition must specify the place of birth and residence of the person seeking the name change, the present name, the name proposed, and the reason for the change of name. Also, if neither parent of the petitioner is living, the petitioner must name his or her near relatives and their places of residence as far as known to the petitioner.
MCA 46-23-505 requires any offender who is required to register to notify the registration agency of a change of name within three business days of the change. The offender must appear in person to notify the agency to which the offender last registered. The registration agency will then require the offender to appear before the registration agency every year for a new photograph. If the offender is a transient, the offender must give written notification to the agency with whom he or she previously registered. The registration agency must, within three business days of receiving the information about the new name, forward a copy of the information and the photograph to the registration agency of the appropriate county or municipality. A judge may order the name change or dismiss the petition as the court or judge feels is right and proper.
Can someone contest a name change?
An objection may be filed by any person who can show good reason for objecting to the name change. The objection should be filed with the District Court at any time before the hearing on the petition for the name change.
Other important information
When a petition for a name change is filed, the court or judge may appoint a time for hearing the petition. Notice of the time and place of the hearing must be published in a newspaper in the county for four (4) successive weeks if a newspaper is printed in the county. If a newspaper is not printed in the county, a copy of the notice must be posted in at least three (3) public places in the county for four (4) successive weeks.
Publication is not required for the name change of a minor unless both parents and all legal guardians consent in writing.
Public notice is not required and the court may allow the petition to continue under sealed record when probable cause is shown that the safety of the petitioner is at risk. To do this, the judge must be satisfied that the petitioner is not attempting to avoid debt or hide a criminal record. This is called a “sealed-record basis.” A request to proceed on a sealed-record basis must be included in the petition. All records related to the petition will be kept by the court as permanent record and cannot be accessed by anyone unless good cause is shown and as the result of an order from the judge of the court in which the petition was granted. This does not happen if the judge denies the request to proceed on a sealed-record basis.
A corporation may change its name by the same procedures as a person. The petition must be signed by a majority of the directors or trustees of the corporation and must specify the date of the formation of the corporation, the name proposed, and the reason for the name change.