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Family Department
Family Department

Location: Montgomery County Circuit Court, Room 107
Phone: (240) 777-9426
Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

 

General Information

Family Law is the general term for the various actions regarding marital relationships and relationships between parents and children. Family Department of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County handles filing of the following family law cases:

  • Adoption
  • Change of name
  • Domestic Relations, including divorce, child custody and visitation, child support, and alimony
  • Guardianship for minors and disabled individuals
  • Paternity
  • Psychological/Psychiatric Evaluation
Do you need a Spoken Language Interpreter for a hearing or trial?
  • Download the Interpreter Request Form (English and Spanish) and file the completed form at the Department where your case was filed at least thirty (30) days before the date of the scheduled trial or hearing for which you requested the interpreter service.

To help parents and their families involved in cases resolve issues without court intervention, the court also provides various services through the Family Division Services.

If you are a victim of Domestic Violence?

Contact the Court’s Domestic Violence Program



Representing Yourself in Court?
Assistance may be available from

Family Law Self Help Center,
a legal information/assistance program
(Room 224)

 

General Family Law Procedures

Flow Chart showing Family law proceeding basic Steps

Filing a Case

If you wish to initiate a proceeding, you (or your attorney) must file written statements – a complaint, motion or petition (depending upon the case type) – in the court.

Serving the other Party

Once your case is filed in the court, the filed document and a Summons * – a court-issued form directing the person to respond to the complaint, motion or petition – must be delivered (“served”) to the opposing party by Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office (Montgomery County mailing address only), by a private process server, by a neutral third party, or by certified mail (restricted delivery – the opposing party must sign the receipt for the mail).

* The cost of serving a Summons by private process server may vary. The cost of serving a Summons by Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office is $40.00 for each Summons. If you make a request to the court to serve your Summons by the County Sheriff’s Office, the Summons will be forwarded to the Sheriff’s Office for service. Otherwise, the Summons will be returned to the party filing the case for service.

Filing an Answer

The served party has to respond to a Summons within a certain time period, indicating whether or not he or she agrees with the complaint, motion, or petition, and how issues listed in the filed papers should be handled. If the respondent fails to file the necessary paperwork (an "Answer") within thirty (30) days of service* in the court, the court assumes that he or she agrees to its terms.

* The number of days varies depending upon where the served party resides. An "Answer" needs to be provided within 30 days if the served party resides in the State of Maryland, 60 days if residing in another state, and 90 days if residing in another country.

A Contested vs. Uncontested Case

If the served party files an Answer, the case will proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter. If the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues, the case is considered contested and the unresolved issues must be resolved by the court. The case is considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of court by submitting the necessary signed paperwork for the court's signature.

Discovery

Discovery is the process in which parties involved in the case exchange documents and information on issues detailed in the papers filed in the court. By examining this information, the parties and the court can decide how to resolve the issues.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Even in contested cases, the parties can voluntarily resolve all their issues through mediation or settlement. At an early stage of proceedings, the court assesses the case and determines which services offered at the court are appropriate and establishes the case schedule. These services are offered through the Montgomery County Circuit Court Family Division Services.

Settlement/Pretrial Hearing and Trial

If a settlement is reached, the settlement agreement is provided to a judge at a hearing. The judge will ask a few factual questions and whether each party understands and chose to sign the agreement. If the judge approves the agreement, he or she gives the parties a decree that shows what they agreed to. If he or she does not approve it, or if the parties do not reach an agreement, the case will go to trial. At trial, attorneys present evidence and arguments for each side, and the judge decides the unresolved issues.

Additional information regarding family law procedures is provided under Montgomery County Circuit Court Family Law Self Help Center’s General Instructions and the Domestic Relations General Instructions provided by Maryland Department of Family Administration. If you have the following questions, Instructions will provide useful information:

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Case Type-Specific Instructions

Adoptions

Adoption is a legal process to seek the court’s decree to accept a child not born to you into your family, enabling the child to have the same legal rights as a child by birth and have a birth certificate with your name listed as the parent. Adults can be adopted as well.

The Family Department Adoption Clerk at Montgomery County Circuit Court handles filings of petitions for adoption, including stepparent adoptions, foreign re-adoptions, agency adoptions, independent adoptions, surrogate adoptions, and the termination of parental rights of children in social services.

Basic Steps in Adoption

Individuals who wish to adopt a child must file a petition for adoption. The parents and/or guardians of the child must be notified of the adoption and either consent to the adoption or be served with a show cause order. They have the right to file an objection to the adoption in the court if they do not agree. The judge will hold an adoption hearing prior to entering a judgment of adoption.

Changing the name of an adopted child

The name of an adopted child may be changed to yours by including the request of name changes in your petition (Maryland Rule 9-103(b)(1)(M)). Click here for "Sources of Maryland Law" (Maryland State Law Library).

Filing Fees: $135.00 (cash, money order, or check (payable to the "Clerk of Court")). No credit cards accepted.

Adoption can be a complex legal matter, and you may need an experienced attorney to handle your petition for adoption. For referrals and information about lawyers who handle adoptions, please contact the Montgomery County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (phone: (301) 279-9100). Should you qualify under their income guidelines, they may be able to refer you to an attorney who may work for a reduced fee.

Adoption/Guardianship Case Manager

Adoption/Guardianship Case Manager is responsible for reviewing all initial pleadings in adoptions filed in the court, including adoption petitions filed in the Juvenile Court as a result of terminations of parental rights in abuse/neglect cases. The Adoption/Guardianship Case Manager assists attorneys and petitioners in completing documents and filings and makes referrals for investigative services where appropriate. For additional information, contact the Family Division Services (Phone: (240) 777-9060).

Related Rules and Regulations: Maryland Rules of Procedure, Title 9. Family Law Actions, Chapter 100. Adoption, Guardianship Terminating Parental Rights (9-101-103). Click here for "Sources of Maryland Law" (Maryland State Law Library) and select "Maryland Code and Rules of Procedure".

Additional Resources for Adoptions

Adoptions in general:

International Adoptions

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Change of Name

If you are 18 years old or older, you may legally change your name by filing a petition in the court. To legally change the name of a minor under 18 years old, a parent or guardian must file a petition.

Click here if you are changing names in connection with a marriage, a divorce, or adoption.

Basic Steps in Change of Name

Changing the name of an adult begins by filing a petition and the court’s publishing a notice of the petition. If no one objects to the name change, and the court does not have questions about the petition, the judge signs the Decree for Change of Name. However, if someone has contested the name change or if the judge has any questions about your petition, a hearing may be scheduled.

Changing the name of a minor under 18 years old requires a signed consent from the minor or a signed petition to change the name from the minor’s parent(s), guardian(s), custodian(s), and/or a person originally listed on the minor’s birth certificate. If any parent, guardian, and/or custodian do not consent to the name change, they must be served and a hearing will be held before the judge.

For additional information on legally changing names:

Maryland Rule 15-901. Action for Change of Name (Click here for "Sources of Maryland Law" (Maryland State Law Library) and select "Maryland Code and Rules of Procedure").

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Domestic Relations Matters

Domestic Relations matters include dissolution of a marriage and related issues that may arise from divorce and separation of parties, including:

For more information regarding self-representing in Domestic Relation cases, visit Montgomery County Circuit Court Family Law Self Help Center.

Filing Fee: $135.00 (cash, money order, or check (payable to the "Clerk of Court"). No credit cards accepted).

Divorce

An Absolute Divorce is a decree granted by a court terminating a valid marriage. This action can be filed by a married person to end the marital relationship between a husband and wife. Maryland law recognizes two types of divorce: Absolute Divorce and Limited Divorce.

Absolute Divorce

When the Court orders an Absolute Divorce, the divorce is permanent and final. In addition to restoring the parties to single status, the court will issue orders for custody and visitation of the minor children of the marriage, child support, spousal support, alimony, and confirm or divide community and separate property assets and debts.

Limited Divorce

A Limited Divorce is judicial recognition that the parties are separated, although still married.  The court can issue orders regarding Child Custody, Visitation, and  Spousal and Child Support, but it cannot determine or divide  Marital Property.  A Limited Divorce may be terminated by the parties, who are then free to resume their marital relationship, or can be converted to an Absolute Divorce, thereby ending the marital relationship once and for all.  Note: You are not required to get a Limited Divorce before you can get an Absolute Divorce.

Basic Steps in Divorce

A complaint for both types of divorce must be filed in the county where you live or work, or where your spouse lives or works. A complaint is a legal document that describes "grounds" – the legal basis for a divorce – why the spouse wants a divorce. It also states how he or she wants to settle financial, custody, and other issues. If grounds occurred outside of Maryland, you may not apply for a divorce unless you or your spouse have resided in the State for at least 1 year before the application is filed. Maryland courts may grant a Limited Divorce even if you are seeking an Absolute Divorce.

Upon filing a complaint for divorce, the party who is filing the complaint must serve the other party with the papers filed in the court and a summons. The served party must in turn file an answer, responding to the complaint, with the Family Department and must provide a copy of the answer to be served to the party who filed the original complaint. However, when a couple is in full agreement about the dissolution of their marriage and other issues, such as child custody, access and visitation, division of properties, and alimony, etc., (or no such issues exist), the complaint and an answer may be filed together. Even when the case is contested, the couple can voluntarily resolve all their issues without the decisions of the court via Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). At an early stage of court proceedings, the court assesses the case and determines which services offered by the court are appropriate and establishes the case schedule. At a divorce hearing, a judge will either approve the arrangements that the couple already agreed upon, or, based on the facts presented, deliver an order regarding each issue brought forth in the case.

For descriptions of the services available from the Montgomery County Circuit Court, contact the Court’s Family Division Services (Phone: (240) 777-9060).

Click here for information regarding name changes due to divorce.

For more information regarding divorce:

Maryland Rules 9-201–210 (Title 9. Family Law Actions, Chapter 200. Divorce, Annulment, Alimony, Child Support, and Child Custody). Click here for "Sources of Maryland Law" (Maryland State Law Library) and select "Maryland Code and Rules of Procedure".

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Paternity

Establishing paternity is the process of establishing the legal fatherhood of a child.

If the mother is married when the child is born
In Maryland, if the mother is married at the time of conception or birth of a child, the law presumes her husband is the child’s legal father even though he may not be the child’s birth father.

If the mother is not married when the child is born
In Maryland, paternity can be established either through a court proceeding or by both parents signing an Affidavit of Parentage.

Basic Steps in Paternity through a Court Proceeding

A Paternity case can be filed by an unmarried mother or by an unmarried father who has minor children together. Through this action, the court will determine paternity (or non-paternity if the father is found not to be the biological father of the minor child(ren)), and make custody and visitation, as well as child support orders.

Once an action is filed by a parent, the other party must be served with a summons. The served parent must then file an answer. The answer indicates how the served spouse would prefer to deal with paternity decisions. If he or she fails to file the answer within a certain time period, (thirty (30) days after the service if the person is a county resident), the court assumes that he or she agrees to its terms.

If the served parent files an Answer, the case will then proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter. The action is considered contested if the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues. Unresolved issues must be resolved by the court. The action is considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of court, and the matter can proceed to its conclusion by submitting the necessary paperwork signed by both parents for the court's approval and signature.

If a person is established as a legal parent of a child, that person MUST support the child. It's a crime for a legal parent to fail to support his or her child. A legal parent also has the right to get custody and/or visitation rights related to the child.

For more information regarding Paternity:

Paternity Establishment (Maryland Department of Human Resources)

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Child Support

Child Support is financial support paid to a parent who has custody over a child or children (a custodial parent) by the other parent who does not have the custody (a paying parent).

If a person is established as a legal parent of a child, that person MUST support the child. It's a crime for a legal parent to fail to support his or her child. A legal parent also has the right to get custody and/or visitation rights related to the child.

If you wish to enforce the existing child support contact:

Maryland Child Support Enforcement Program (Maryland Department of Human Resources, Phone: 1-800-332-6347)

Basic Steps in Child Support

The court addresses the issue of child support when:

No legal obligation to pay child support from one parent to the other arises until a court order is issued.

A parent rearing a child may file a complaint for child support from the other parent who is legally in a parental relationship with the child to seek financial support for raising the child. Similar to other domestic relations cases, the filing parent must serve the other party with a summons and the papers filed in the court. In turn, the served parent must file an Answer, responding to the claims made in the original complaint. At a child support hearing, the judge, based on the facts presented to the court, will approve, reject, or make modifications to the original complaint.

For more information regarding Child Support:

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Child Custody and Visitation

Child Custody refers to the legal arrangements regarding with whom a child will live on a regular basis ("physical custody") and how major decisions about the child will be made ("legal custody"). If a parent is awarded sole legal custody, the parent alone can make major decisions for the child. However, if parents are awarded joint custody, they have to work together to make decisions for their child.

If parents choose to settle the case, they can make any custodial arrangement that is in the best interest of the children. If the court must decide custody, the judge will have to determine what is in the best interest of the children.

Basic Steps in Child Custody and Visitation

Before parents can address the issues of custody and visitation of their minor children, either the mother or the father of a married couple must first file a complaint requesting a divorce or file the petition for custody/visitation and support of minor children's action. If the parents are unmarried, either the mother or the father must file an action to establish the parental relationship or file the petition for custody and support of minor children.

Once a complaint is filed by a parent, the other parent must be served with a copy of the paperwork filed in the court and a writ of summons. Then the served parent must file an answer to the complaint. The answer indicates how the served individual would prefer to deal with the complaint for child custody and visitation. If he or she fails to file the answer within a certain time period of thirty (30) days after the service if the person is a county resident, the court assumes that he or she agrees to its terms. The number of days varies depending upon where the served party resides. An "answer" needs to be provided within 30 days if the served party resides in the State of Maryland, 60 days if residing in another state, and 90 days if residing in another country.

If the served parent files an answer, the case will then proceed to a child custody hearing. The issue of child custody is often contested, that is the parents do not agree on the terms of where their children live and how the important decisions regarding children’s lives and education, etc., should be made. However, even when the case is contested, the couple can voluntarily resolve all or some of these issues without the decisions of the court via Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). At an early stage of court proceedings, the court assesses the case and determines which services offered by the court are appropriate and establishes the case schedule.

Click here for the descriptions of the services available from the Montgomery County Circuit Court Family Division Services.

For more information regarding Child Custody and Visitation:

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Alimony/Spousal Support

Alimony (spousal support) is a periodic payment by one former spouse to the other to assist that spouse in adjusting to a new living situation. The purpose of alimony is to provide an opportunity for the recipient spouse to become self-supporting. Parties to a separation, Limited Divorce or Absolute Divorce may agree to pay alimony or be court-ordered to do so.

There is no legal obligation to pay spousal support by one party to the other until there is a court order. In limited situations, the court can order spousal support in a nullity action. A court order is obtained by filing a complaint or a petition for a hearing. Further discussion of spousal support can be located by referring to the appropriate underlying action. When deciding what spousal support should be ordered, the judge will take many things into consideration. Examples of some things the judge may consider are:

Basic Steps in Alimony

A spouse may seek alimony as part of a divorce complaint, or the alimony can be incorporated in a separation agreement if the couple agrees on the terms. While the parties are free to agree to any amount, the amount of alimony can be modified by the court unless the separation agreement specifically states that the provision is not subject to modification by the court. During litigation, prior to the divorce, the court may award temporary alimony or alimony pendente lite. To receive temporary alimony, a party must show financial need and the ability of the other party to pay. The court has discretion in determining the amount.

For more information regarding Alimony:

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Guardianship

Guardianship is a legal procedure in which a court determines that a person is in need of protection due to severe disabilities, hospitalization, or other impairments that affect his/her ability to make decisions or because of his/her status as a minor (under 18 years of age), and appoints someone else to act for that person, making decisions about the person, about his/her property, or about both. There are two types of guardianship: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the property.

Guardianship of the Person

A guardian of the person makes personal decisions for the disabled person or the minor in the guardianship and takes care of all affairs that concern the individual personally, such as living arrangements and medical care. One person can serve as both guardian of the person and guardian of the property, or different people may serve in each role. The petition must state which kind of guardian is being requested: guardian of the person, guardian of the property or both.

The court appoints a guardian of the person to make personal decisions for the disabled person. Usually, a guardian of the person makes all necessary decisions about the disabled individual’s everyday life, from where that person will live to what kind of medical treatment he/she will receive. After the court appoints a guardian of the person, the guardian has the same rights, powers and duties that a parent has toward an unemancipated minor child.

Guardianship of the Property

The court appoints a guardian of a person’s property to manage funds, to do banking, to pay bills, to sell assets, to settle claims, and generally to act as a property manager for someone who cannot act for himself or herself. The guardian of the property has control over the guardianship estate, or all the property and income that the person owns or to which he/she is entitled.

A guardian of the property must act as a fiduciary of the disabled person. A fiduciary is someone who can be trusted to act in the best interest of the disabled person. This means that a guardian must act honestly and faithfully to preserve the disabled person’s property and to use the assets for the benefit and welfare of the person.

Basic Steps in Guardianship

An interested person may file a petition requesting the court to appoint a guardian of a minor or alleged disabled person. If the minor or alleged disabled person is a resident of Montgomery County, the petition must be filed at Montgomery County Circuit Court. The petition must also be filed at Montgomery County Circuit Court if the person has been admitted for the purpose of medical care or treatment to a hospital located in Montgomery County and the facility is not a State facility (as defined in Code, Health-General Article, § 10-406) or a licensed private facility (as defined in Code, Health-General Article, §§ 10-501 to 10-511). If the minor or alleged disabled person is not a Maryland resident but is physically present in Montgomery County, a petition for guardianship of the person may be filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Filing Fee: $135.00 (cash, money order, or check payable to the "Clerk of Court"). No credit cards accepted.

Guardianship can be a complex legal matter, and you may need an experienced attorney to handle your petition for guardianship. For referrals and information about lawyers who handle guardianships, please contact the Montgomery County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (Phone: (301) 279-9100). Should you qualify under their income guidelines, they may be able to refer you to an attorney who may work for a reduced fee.

Adoption/Guardianship Case Manager

Adoption/Guardianship Case Manager is responsible for reviewing all pleadings in adoptions and guardianships filed in the Circuit Court. The Adoption/Guardianship Case Manager assists attorneys and petitioners in perfecting documents and filings and makes referrals for investigative services where appropriate. For additional information, contact the Family Division Services (Phone: (240)777-9060).

Reporting Requirement of Guardians

Maryland law requires court-appointed guardians of the person of a disabled person and guardians of the property of a disabled person or a minor to file an annual report. Guardianship reports are filed with Montgomery County Circuit Court Trust Office. Click here for the information regarding guardianship reporting requirements and related forms.

Related Rules and Regulations: Maryland Rules of Procedure, Title 10. Guardians and Other Fiduciaries (10-101-712). Click here for "Sources of Maryland Law" (Maryland State Law Library) and select "Maryland Code and Rules of Procedure".

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Appeals

An appeal is a proceeding in which a party to the case disagrees with the Circuit Court judge’s ruling and wants the case to be heard in a higher court. The appeal has to be made within 30 days after the final judgment is entered. The appeal is noted in the Circuit Court to the Court of Special Appeals if a defendant in a criminal case or either party in a civil or family law case does not agree with the court decision.

Once an appeal is filed with the Appeals Clerk at the Circuit Court (located in the court’s Civil and Family Law window), all necessary original papers, including the original transcript (to be provided by the person filing the appeal) are sent to the Court of Special Appeals by the deadline provided in the order from the Court of Special Appeals.

Filing Fees: $110.00 (cash, money order, or check payable to the "Clerk of Court"). No credit cards accepted.

Appeals filed from the District Court to the Circuit Court

After the Circuit Court decision, if a party wishes to appeal the second time, a petition for a writ of certiorari must be filed with the Court of Appeals in Annapolis in a timely manner.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Adoptions

Was I adopted in Montgomery County?

If someone requests to know whether he or she was adopted in Montgomery County, the person must provide the year of the adoption and the name of his/her adoptive parent(s). The location of the adoption file depends on the year the adoption became final. Adoptions finalized prior to 1947 are not sealed and are listed alphabetically by year in the Equity & Law docket books housed in Land Records (Room 218). Adoptions filed from 1947 to 1992 are sealed and may not be accessed by the public. However, adoptees may be given confirmation that they were adopted in Montgomery County and their file number may be given to the petitioner(s) and adoptee ONLY. After 1992, legislation regarding adoptions changed and a law was passed stating that the public could have access to specific information provided that it was furnished separately from the adoption files. An index of adoptions is open to the public and located in Central Files.

How do I find out if my family member or friend was adopted in Montgomery County?

Information regarding adoptions finalized after 1947 may NOT be released to the public. However, one can provide the Department of Human Resources with the adoption case number and request the department to release the information. To obtain your adoption case number, contact Family Department of the court that handled your adoption case and provide your adopted name, either or both adoptive parents’ names, and the year of adoption. The department staff may be able to verify whether you were adopted in Montgomery County and if so, the adoption case number. The petitioner(s) and adoptee may request a certified copy of the final decree, but the court will not release information to anyone on their behalf.

How do I find my birth parents?

The court cannot release any information regarding birth parents to an adoptee. If an adoptee wishes to find their birth parents, they must contact the Department of Human Resources at 1-800-39 ADOPT. The Department of Human Resources will put the adoptee in contact with a Certified Confidential Intermediary.

What is a Certified Confidential Intermediary?

Certified Confidential Intermediaries have access to adoption files and they conduct reviews and release non-identifying information to adoptees. The court can release non-identifying information the intermediary releases, if the birth parents did not file a veto when consenting to the adoption of their child(ren).

If I have adopted a child from a foreign country, do I have to adopt them in the United States too?

No, Maryland does not require adoptive parents to re-adopt children they have legally adopted in a foreign country. However, many adoptive parents choose to re-adopt their foreign-born children. If adoptive parents have a foreign adoption decree and are US citizens, they can obtain a Maryland birth certificate for the adopted children without re-adopting them. The adoptive parent(s) must re-adopt foreign-born children when they have a wrong visa or the foreign country only allowed the adoptive parents to obtain guardianship. The adoptive parents may wish to adopt to change the child’s name or obtain the Maryland order because local government (school) requires it, to add a spouse to the order, for estate purposes.

How much does it cost to file an adoption petition?

The cost is $135 to file an adoption petition.

Where are the adoption forms?

The court does not provide adoption forms. Potential petitioners should consult an attorney or go to their local library and request a copy of the Maryland Rules.

If I submit original licenses/certificates with the adoption petition, may I have them returned?

Yes. Please submit a motion requesting the return of your originals and a proposed order for the judge to sign. Original documents submitted to the court will be returned to you after the completion of the final hearing.

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If you are changing names in connection with a marriage, a divorce, or adoption

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Change of Name

If you are 18 years old or older, you may legally change your name by filing a petition in the court. To legally change the name of a minor under 18 years old, a parent or guardian must file a petition.

Click here if you are changing names in connection with a marriage, a divorce, or adoption.

Change of Your Name (Adult 18 Years or Older)

Change of Name of Your Minor Child (under 18 Years Old)

Change of Name (Adult 18 Years or Older)

The following instruction/form packets for change of name are available at Montgomery County Circuit Court. You may request these packets at the Family Department window on the first floor of the courthouse.

Packet No. 1: Changing Your Name with Publication (Adult Only)

Packet No. 2: Changing Your Name with Posting (Adult Only)

To change your legal name:

Click here for information on how to obtain a birth certificate (Maryland Vital Statistics Administration).

Filing Fee: $135.00 (cash, money order, or check payable to the "Clerk of Court"). No credit cards accepted.

Posting Petition in the Court: $40.00 (check payable to the "Sheriff’s Office")

If you wish to have your petition published in a newspaper, ask the Clerk to arrange the publication, and the newspaper will send you a bill for publication. After you pay for the publication, the newspaper will publish your notice of the petition. Once the notice is published, proof of publication known as “Printer’s Certificate” must be filed with the court. Some newspapers will send the Certificate directly to the court, others will send the Certificate to you, and you must send the Certificate to the court for filing.

If no one has contested the change, and everything has been done properly, the judge may sign the Order for Name Change. A certified copy of the Order may be requested at the Department ($5.00 for issuing a copy and 50 cents for each page of the certified Order).

To change your identification on your driver’s license and/or automobile title (must be done within 30 days after the issuance of the Order), contact the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicle Administration (see "How do I report a name or address that has changed?").

To change your identification on your social security card, contact the Social Security Administration (see "How do I report a name or address that has changed?")

Related Rules and Regulations: Maryland Rules of Procedure 15-901 (Maryland Statutes and Rules)

Go to Change of Name Section

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Change of Name of Minor Child (Under 18 Years Old)

Before filing a petition for change of name of the minor:

In order to file a petition to legally change the name of a minor under 18 years old:

Filing Fee: $135.00 (cash, money order, or check payable to the "Clerk of Court"). No credit cards accepted.

Posting Petition in the Court: $40.00 (check payable to the "Sheriff’s Office")

If you wish to have your petition published in a newspaper, ask the Clerk to arrange the publication, and the newspaper will send you a bill for publication. After you pay for the publication, the newspaper will publish your notice of the petition. Once the notice is published, proof of publication known as “Printer’s Certificate” must be filed with the court. Some newspapers will send the Certificate directly to the court, others will send the Certificate to you, and you must send the Certificate to the court for filing.

The total process will take approximately 2 to 2 ½ months from the date of filing the petition to have the final decree signed.

Related Rules and Regulations: Maryland Rules of Procedure 15-901 [Maryland Statutes and Rules].

Go to Change of Name Section

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Family Department Packets

The Clerk’s Office Family Department has 10 different packets available for the individual without an attorney to file a domestic relations case. You may request any of the packets at the Family Department window on the first floor of the courthouse. The family law forms are also available on-line from the Maryland Judiciary web site.

Packet #1: Complaint for Child Support (Use this packet if you do not have a child support order)

Packet #2: Petition for Contempt for Failure to Pay Child Support (Use this packet if you have a child support order and it is not being paid)

Packet #3: Petition for Contempt for Denial of Visitation (Use this packet if you have a visitation order and it is being denied)

Packet #4: Complaint for Custody (Use this packet if you do not have a custody order and there is a dispute about where the child should live)

Packet #5: Complaint for Visitation (Use this packet if you do not have a visitation order)

Packet #6: Petition/Motion to Modify Child Support (Use this packet to change the amount or terminate a current child support order)

Packet #7: Petition/Motion for Custody or Visitation (Use this packet to change the existing custody or visitation order)

Packet #8: Complaint for Divorce-Absolute or Limited (Use this packet if you want to file a divorce including child custody, visitation and support)

Packet #8A: Uncontested Absolute Divorce (Use this packet if you want to file a divorce with no property issues, no children, and no alimony, or a signed separation agreement exists that addresses these issues)

Packet #9: Answer to Complaint/Petition/Motion (Use this packet when you have received papers that you must respond to)

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Montgomery County Circuit Court
50 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850
Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM