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How To Legally Change Your Name in Pennsylvania

By Sheryl Rentz on December 7, 2016

There a number of reasons why a person might want to legally change their name. The most common of course is when a person gets married. Unfortunately, when a marriage ends in divorce, many people will then need to change their name back. The process can be confusing and time consuming, and comes at a difficult time when you will have many other more pressing concerns.

Pennsylvania law governs the process under which a person’s name can be changed in the State of Pennsylvania. The Office of the Prothonotary is where you must go to submit the necessary documents to procure a name change. Depending on where you live in Pennsylvania, this office is typically located in your county’s courthouse. Depending on why you are requesting a name change and whether it involves an adult or a minor, there are different procedures to follow.

For an adult wishing to change their name after a divorce, the process requires the petitioner to fill out a Notice to Retake Prior Surname and submit all necessary supplemental files. Once the petition has been certified, obtaining the various other forms of identification in your new name will become much easier, including a new driver’s license, Social Security ID, and credit cards.

The process is much more complicated when it comes to a child. A court order is necessary, and the burden of proof in on the parent to show that the name change is in the best interests of the child. While it’s not impossible to do this on your own, having someone who is experienced in the process that can advocate on your behalf will make the process go much more smoothly.

The Court will look at a number of considerations to determine whether to grant the petition to change your child’s name:

  • The natural bond between parent and child. Courts are hesitant to change a minor’s name. They will look at the parent’s history with the child, if they have maintained child support, and whether they have been consistently involved in their child’s life.
  • The social impact of a particular name in the community. If the Court thinks that the original name has a bad reputation attached to it and might lead to embarrassment for the child, they will be more likely to grant the petition.
  • The age of the child and his or her ability to understand the significance of a name change.

The process of going through a divorce or fighting a custody battle can be very difficult and overwhelming for everyone involved. It is in the best interest of everyone to resolve any disputes as quickly and painlessly as possible. At the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., we have the experience and resources to help you understand and deal with the full legal process of a Pennsylvania divorce and name change achieve the best possible future for you and your family. Call us today at (610) 645-0100 to schedule a free consultation.

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