During an uncontested divorce a parent may want to change his or her child's last name. There are an array of reasons a parent may want to change a child's last name, everything from an absent father to outright revenge. In the state of Pennsylvania, a parent will have to obtain a court order and give reasons why a name change is in the best interest of his or her child.
When the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas is reviewing a child's name change case, here are some of the considerations that will be taken into account:
- Child's well-being (moral, intellectual, emotional and spiritual);
- Possible social stigma of a name;
- Parent and child bonds;
- If the child is able to rationally comprehend a name change.
When filing for your child's name change you will need your child's fingerprints and a certified copy of his or her birth certificate. The filing parent will also need to have his or her fingerprints on file. There is a fee charged for official fingerprints. Fingerprints can be filed at your local law enforcement agency.
Ideally both parents should sign the petition for the child's name change. If one parent does not he or she will be served a copy of the petition by the parent (or legal representative) who filed the petition. Between one and three months after filing the petition you should receive a copy of the petition with information about the time, date and place of the hearing. If you don't receive this notice within the above timeframe make sure to contact your lawyer or the clerk's office.
A notice will then have to be published in two local newspapers, they must regularly cover your county, announcing the petition. Keep in mind the notice must be published before the hearing date. Don't forget to get your proof of publication from the newspapers and bring them to your hearing.
If you are granted the order for your child's name change you will be responsible for changing his or her name on all records. These records would include:
- Social security;
- Clubs and organizations; and
Consult with a qualified attorney before embarking on changing your child's name. If your spouse is against the name change litigation can become financially consuming.