The court has the ability to order a name change of an adult or a minor child. Name changes are permissible so long as it is not sought for illegitimate purposes and the person seeking a name change does not have certain criminal convictions. Specifically, a person cannot request a name change if they have a conviction for murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault or robbery. A petition for name change should be filed with the civil court in the county where you reside. A filing fee is due at the time of filing as well as copies of your fingerprints which can be obtained at your local police department. A hearing for the petition will be scheduled for one – three months later.
Prior to the hearing date, notice of the petition must be published in the county law reporter as well as a newspaper of general circulation. Additionally, adults must have checks through the Prothonotary’s office for civil matters, the Clerk of Courts for criminal matters, and the Recorder of Deeds for any property issues. If requesting a name change of a minor, in addition to the publication requirements for all name change petitions, you must also proof service on the non-petitioning parent. If the other parent does not agree with the name change, the court will decide after hearing from the parties. A name change of a minor may be granted if it is in the child’s best interests. The party requesting the name change has the burden of proof and must convince the court how the requested change would serve the child’s best interests.