Change of Name Petition
There are many reasons a person may want to change his or her legal name or that of his or her child: adoption, marriage, divorce, death of spouse, among the most common. In Pennsylvania, this requires a legal process that is more involved than simply speaking with the Social Security office.
A person must petition for the change, follow specific steps, and appear at a hearing. An experienced Chester County family lawyer can help you assemble your name change case, create a strong petition, and help you achieve your goals with minimal time spent on your part.
Chester County PA Name Change Attorney
Since the legal name change process in Pennsylvania is more than just a one-step procedure, it can involve much time and worry to legally change you or your minor child’s name. Our team of dedicated lawyers can simplify the process for you and your loved ones.
We are proud to provide stress-free, affordable legal solutions for our clients across Philadelphia, Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, and Montgomery County. Call (610) 692-8700 or send an online message for a free consultation so we can act as soon as possible. We are based in West Chester PA and serve clients throughout Chester County, Lancaster County and suburban Philadelphia including West Chester, Kennett Square, Oxford, Avondale, Landenberg, West Grove, Paoli, Malvern, Downingtown, Coatesville, Exton, Parkesburg, Berwyn and Devon. We have convenient meeting locations in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, and Radnor. Our family lawyers serve those with immediate legal needs in Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County and Lancaster County.
The Name Change Process in Pennsylvania
- Reasonable and Unreasonable Causes for Name Changes
- Filing a Petition to Change Your Name in Pennsylvania
- Court Considerations for Changing a Child’s Name
In Pennsylvania, a person can change their name socially for any reason he or she desires. However, to change your name legally you must have what the court considers a reasonable cause. Some of these reasonable causes for a name change include:
- Marital Separation
- Death of Spouse
- Social stigma attached to name
- Sex change
A person may not change his or her name to avoid legal judgments or actions, avoid debts or obligations, or defraud another person. The process for changing your legal name involves a fingerprint and background check to avoid the ability to change your name based on these reasons. If you are concerned that your cause for pursuing this process is not strong, consulting with a qualified attorney in your county can help you determine the best path to pursue.
To begin this process, you must petition for a name change in the Court of Common Pleas within the county that you reside. The contents of this petition are governed by 54 Pa.C.S. § 701 and must include the reason for the name change, the current resident of the petitioner, and any residence of the petitioner for five years prior to the petition.
After you file the petition, you must have your fingerprints taken by your local city police department, who will then search all legal records for any cause to not approve the petition – such as pending legal action.
While your background check is being performed, you must publish two public notices of intent to change you or your minor child’s name according to your county’s guidelines. Additionally, if the petition is for a minor child, you must serve any non-petitioning parents or guardians with notice of the name change petition. Once these steps are complete, you will attend a hearing set by the Court of Common Pleas for the county you petitioned in.
At the hearing, the judge will hear your reasons for the name change, hear the case of any person who may lawfully object to the change, and review your compliance with the involved procedures. If the judge and court are satisfied that you have a good reason for a name change and no lawful objection exists, you will be issued your decree of legal name change. It is then your responsibility to change your other legal records, such as Social Security card, passport, and driver’s license.
For an adult to change a minor child’s name, it must be in the best interest of the child. Justifiable reasons for changing a minor child’s name may include adoption, marriage of the custodial parent, or change of the custodial parent’s legal name.
Some factors a court may consider before granting or denying the petition include:
- Whether the change will distance the child from one or more parents or legal guardians
- Whether the change will be beneficial by removing the social stigma involved in the name
- Whether the change is part of a protective measure for the child
- Whether the child is old enough to understand the significance of the alteration
- Whether the petitioner is acting in his or her own best interest or in the best interest of the child
Working with a Qualified Chester County Lawyer for Legal Name Changes
The process for having you or your child’s name legally altered in West Chester, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, or Radnor doesn’t have to be extensive and time-consuming for you. Hiring a knowledgeable attorney could reduce the time you need to spend pursuing this on your own. Call Ciccarelli Law Offices for your free consultation on your legal name change at (610) 692-8700 today.