Domestic Diversions

Seeking a name change after your divorce?

Name changes at the time of divorce are very simple in Michigan. An additional provision in the judgment of divorce is all it takes. It’s a little more involved when you decide to seek a name change years down the road.

Kent County’s website explains the procedure as follows:


Applicant must be a resident of the county in which they are going to file their petition for a name change for a minimum of 12 months preceding the filing of their petition.

Application Instructions

Petitions for name changes has recently come under the jurisdiction of the Family Division of the Circuit Court. However, many Probate Courts, including Kent County Probate Court, continue to process petitions for name changes. To obtain a name change, the applicant must complete the Petition for Name Change, form PC 51 and file it with the court, and pay the required fee. Currently the filing fee for a petition to change a name is $160.00. The fee is payable in cash, personal check or by money order payable to the Kent County Circuit Court Family Division. This court will not accept personal checks for name change petitions. The form may be obtained via this site or by visiting Probate Court.
If the applicant is 22 years or older, then he or she must have a criminal history background check performed. After the background check is complete the applicant will contact the court to set a hearing date to have the name change. If the applicant has a criminal history, it will be up to the applicant to rebut the presumption that the name change is being sought for fraudulent reasons.
If the applicant is 21 years or younger, he or she may begin the filing process without the background check.

Background Check

A background check is performed to determine if the name change is sought with fraudulent intent.
A background check is not performed on applicants 21 years of age and younger. To obtain the necessary background check, the applicant must take the completed copy of the Petition for Name Change to their local Police Department and obtain a set of finger prints.
• You will need to obtain fingerprint applicant card.
• Make sure that the Police Department puts the proper ORI number on the fingerprint card.
• Kent County Probate Court ORI Number is: MI 410013J
Once the applicant has obtained the fingerprint card from the Police Department, he or she must mail or deliver the following items to the address listed below.
• Copy of the Petition for Name Change
• State Applicant Fingerprint Card
• $54.00 non-refundable fee payable to the State of Michigan
The applicant’s background check must go through the State of Michigan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It takes approximately 3 to 4 weeks for the background check to be completed. The court upon receipt of the completed background check will then contact the applicant to set the hearing date for the name change.
It is very important that the applicant file with the court a copy of the petition for the name change at the same time that the fingerprints are being sent to the State Police. The court will use the information on the petition to contact the applicant once the background check has been completed and returned to the court.
Once the applicant has received notice from Probate Court that the court is ready to proceed on the petition for the name change, he or she must visit the Probate Court building during normal business hours to begin the filing process.

Fee Listing

Fee Payee Description
$54.00 State of Michigan Adults 22+ (Finger Printing)
$160.00 Kent County Circuit Court Court Filing Fee
$64.00 Legal News Paper Publication
$12.00 Kent County Probate Court Certified Order of Name Change
$40.00 State of Michigan Name Change of Birth Certificate

2 thoughts on “Seeking a name change after your divorce?

  1. Tim Polidori

    Does the man have the right to demand a woman to change the married surname of her husband/exhusband after a divorce or is it her choice to change?

  2. David C. Sarnacki Post author

    In Michigan, the woman has the choice to continue or switch her last name. The statute gives the husband no right to select her name. MCL 552.391 provides:
    “The circuit courts of this state, whenever a decree of divorce is granted, may, at the instance of the woman, whether complainant or defendant, decree to restore to her her birth name, or the surname she legally bore prior to her marriage to the husband in the divorce action, or allow her to adopt another surname if the change is not sought with any fraudulent or evil intent.”

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