Name Change Process Won’t Require Publication After October 1

The name change process in Maryland is about to get a lot less cumbersome.

Under a new law effective October 1, 2021, Maryland courts will be required to waive the publication requirement in name change cases upon motion by the petitioner. 

Currently, Maryland law requires individuals seeking a name change through the courts to first publish notice in a newspaper in the county in which they live. While court rules allow the publication requirement to be waived by the judge hearing the case, the rules do not specify under what circumstances waivers should be granted, leading to severe disparities in how often waivers are granted across the state. 

The new law, sponsored by Delegate Emily Shetty and Senator Shelly Hettleman, does not revoke the publication requirement outright; instead, it instructs the courts to waive publication upon request by the individual changing their name.

The law, which will be codified in Section 3-2201 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Code, reads: “On motion by an individual who has filed an action for change of name under Maryland Rule 15-901, the court shall waive the publication requirement under the rule.”

Although the law does not go into effect until October 1, 2021, individuals seeking name changes in the meantime can still reference the new code section when asking the court to waive publication.

Individuals using the Maryland court system’s new Motion for Waiver of Publication forms for Adult and Minor name changes may wish to reference the law in the space specifying why the request is being made, including, for instance, “Per Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. s. 3-2201, enacted May 31, 2021, it is the intent of the Maryland Legislature that publication be waived upon request in name change cases.”

To maximize the chance that waiver will be granted, petitioners may also want to reference individual circumstances why publication would be potentially harmful, such as the risk of violence from family or acquaintances, worries that potential employers will learn about one’s transgender status, or the cost of publication. 

If a court denies a motion to waive publication before October 1 or requires you to post notice in the courthouse in lieu of publication, individuals are encouraged to contact FreeState Justice to discuss their options. While you can wait until October 1 to file another motion to waiver publication, which the court will be required to grant, we may be able to help you get the court to reconsider its denial of a publication waiver in light of the new legislation.

If you are interested in having a pro bono attorney assist you with the name change process, please contact FreeState Justice to schedule an intake.

This blog post is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. The contents of this site contain general information at the time they were written, and may not reflect current legal developments or address your situation. The operation of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and FreeState Justice. 

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