Changing Your Name During a Pennsylvania Divorce
A person involved in a Divorce case may resume the use of any last name which they previously used, by filing a notice with the Court. This can be done before or after a decree of divorce is entered.
Changing Your Name After the Death of a Spouse
A surviving spouse may resume any prior name, by filing a written notice with the Court, along with a certificate of death.
Changing the Name of an Adult
In situations not involving death or divorce, a person may request a change of name for any reason, so long as the change is not done for fraudulent purposes (hiding from creditors, or impersonating a famous person). There are restrictions on the ability of persons convicted of major crimes to change their name.
In order to change your name in Pennsylvania, a Petition is filed with the Court of Common Pleas, in the County where you reside. Notice is published in two newspapers, and a hearing is scheduled. There are some restrictions on name changes for persons convicted of serious crimes: for this reason, a fingerprint check is conducted by the Pennsylvania State Police.
Changing Your Child’s Name
In an adoption, the Adoption Decree can include a change of name for a minor child. In other situations, a Petition will need to be filed with the Court, and notice given to the other parent.
The parent requesting the change must prove that the name change requested would be in the child’s best interest. When the other parent does not agree, the court must carefully evaluate all of the relevant factual circumstances. Pennsylvania Courts are often reluctant to approve a name change that would remove the father’s surname, feeling that this might lessen the bonds between the child and the father.
What To Do After Changing Your Name
To avoid confusion, anyone having important records about you needs to be notified of the change. Usually, they will need to at least review a certified copy of the Court Order (one with the court’s seal on it). Places you would want to notify include the Social Security Administration, Penndot, Voter Registration, Insurance Companies, Banks, and your employer or school.