Name Changes

Name Changes


A legal name change is the process of actually changing one’s legal name. In the case of a marriage or divorce, this is accomplished by obtaining a marriage license or divorce decree which clearly states the previous name and the new name.

For those people who change their names for reasons other than marriage and divorce, a Petition for Name Change must be filed with the Court of Common Pleas of the county in which the Petitioner (person seeking to have his/her name changed) resides, setting forth such desire and intention and the reason for wanting the name change, together with the residence of petitioner, and his or her residence or residences during five years prior thereto.

As to children, the court focuses on the best interests of the child. In focusing on the best interests of the child, the length of time the child has been named, the identity of similarly named siblings or family members, and the bonds between the parents and the child are all important issues. If the child understands the significance of the proposed change, the court may interview the child and consider his or her preferences.

The intended name change must then be advertised in two newspapers of general circulation in said county, one of which publications must be in the official paper for the publication of legal notices in said county, after which the court holds a brief hearing on whether the name change is legitimate. The primary purpose for involving the courts in name changes is to prohibit fraud (avoiding financial obligations). In addition, the court has the power to deny the name change if the requested name would cause confusion, or if the name is bizarre, unduly lengthy, or offensive.

Once the legal name change is complete, you are only half way through the process. A person must then notify a number of government agencies and professional and personal affiliates and service providers of the name change by providing them with a Certified Copy of the Order granting said name change. This information must be provided to the Social Security Agency, DMV, and Passport Agency, not to mention his/her employer, banks, insurance providers and other professional and personal affiliations.

If you need an attorney with knowledge and experience of name changes in Pennsylvania, contact us today for your free consultation.

The information contained herein is dedicated to providing public information regarding Family Law issues in Pennsylvania. None of the information on this site is intended to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of attorney client relationship. Please contact our law firm for information regarding your particular case. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.