Adults seeking to legally change their name will need to file a petition with the court. In addition to completing the petition, the party should be prepared to pay a filing fee directly to court at the time of filing as well as supply a copy of their fingerprints. Fingerprinting can be done by the local police department where the filing party resides. The purpose of the fingerprinting is to allow for analysis of any criminal background, if applicable. The name change statute does not allow a change of name if certain crimes have been committed. A search through the Prothonotary’s office and Recorder of Deeds will also need to be done prior to a successful name change to ensure there are no other concerns which may bar the application for a name change.
Another requirement prior to obtaining a name change is to publish notice of the petition and hearing date. Generally notice must be published in the law reporter for the county as well as a newspaper of general circulation. This is to notify anyone who may have an objection to the name change and grant them the opportunity to appear in court and state their objections. The total fees can be in the range upwards of $500 excluding attorney fees if representation is desired.
In the case of a minor child, service must be made on the other parent if there whereabouts are known. Otherwise, notice may be accomplished solely by the publication that is already required but permission of the court should be sought to skip specific service on the other parent. If both parents are in agreement with a name change to a minor, the simpler option is to request a correction to the birth certificate through vital records rather than foot the expense to file a petition and seek a hearing. Fingerprinting and other background checks are not required if a name change for a minor must be sought through the court due to lack of contact with the other parent or lack of mutual agreement on the desired change.