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Pennsylvania Name Change
Changing your name in
Pennsylvania is a fairly straightforward process and
can usually be accomplished by the individual "Pro
Se" (a person who represents him/herself) within 3
to 6 months. An attorney is not required, but
may be able to more quickly navigate the process,
especially if there are unusual circumstances
concerning your petition(s).
Things You'll Need:
Petition Forms -
Contact your county prothonotary's office to see
if they have a pre-printed form, an example of a
petition, or, if you need to write one yourself,
a list of what needs to be included in the
petition to the court.
Card - Finger prints
must be taken at the local police department
which serves the city, borough, or township
where you reside. You may go to the Pennsylvania
State Police barracks for this purpose ONLY if
your municipality is not served by a local
police department. The usual fee is about
Certificate - If you
do not have your birth certificate you can get a
copy from the local Department of Health where
you were born or order online at
Security Card - Visit your Social Security
Administration office to obtain a replacement.
No fee is required.
You will be required to publish
your name in 2 local newspapers, one should be,
but is not required to be, a legal paper of
record (the cost of publishing in a legal paper
can be several hundred dollars).
You can petition the court not to require you to
publish your name in a newspaper if you feel it
would put you in danger.
Fees - The court will
assess a filing fee (approximately $320) as well
as a Judgment Search ($120 and up).
However, if you are considered to be low-income,
you may request to "Petition to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis (IFP)" which asks the court to waive
filing and other fees to include the requirement
to advertise your name change in a newspaper.
This must be done BEFORE you begin the actual
steps of changing your name.
Contact your county's prothonotary for specific
county instructions for name changes.
you are low-income and plan to "Petition to
Proceed in Forma Pauperis (IFP)", complete this
before starting the name change process.
Again, the prothonotary will provide you with
and type your actual Name Change Petition.
The petition must include: your name and
address, the reason for the name change and any
other addresses you have lived at in the past
five years. Your spouse and adult children may
be listed as party petitioners for the name
change if desired.
Gather your Paperwork (paperclip, DO NOT staple)
- Your Name Change Petition
- Your Fingerprint Card
- Copy of your Birth Certificate
- Copy of your Social Security Card
- Copy of your Driver's License/Photo ID
- Copy of your IFP Petition (if applicable)
your paperwork with your county's prothonotary.
They will then forward your paperwork and
fingerprint cards to the state police who will
do a background check. Once complete
(within 60 days), the court will notify you of a
awaiting your background check, advertise your
name change in 2 local papers. Retain copies of both
advertisements for your court date. If you
have petitioned the court not to advertise the
change, then you will most likely have to meet
with the judge and explain why before your
actual name change court date. Explaining
that there is evidence of numerous hate crimes
conducted against Trans-people is a viable
must have two judgment searches done for each
county you have lived in for the past five years
to prove that you are not changing your name to
avoid paying any debts, child support, or
alimony. One search is done through the
Common Pleas Court the other is done through
Family Court. You may need to hire someone
to do them for you.
Attend the name change hearing. The hearing will
be scheduled any time from one to three months
after the petition is filed. Bring copies of the
notices that you placed in local newspapers. The
petition will not be granted if there are
judgments or decrees of record against your
current name. The judge will ask if anyone
present at the hearing objects to your name
change and may take any objections into
consideration before making a decision.
A name change
will not be granted if the court determines that
you wish to change your name to avoid
obligations, debts or legal actions or wish to
defraud another person.
If you are
under 18, your parent(s) or legal guardian must
initiate the name change on your behalf and
convince the court that the name change is in
"the best interests of the child." There
is slightly different process as well as forms
to changing the name of a minor. You may
want to consider consulting an attorney since
changing the name of a minor requires a higher
burden of proof.
If you have a
criminal record, it may delay or prevent your
ability to change your name. Misdemeanors
normally do not affect your ability to legally
change your name, but may delay it. You
will usually not be permitted to change your
name if you have been convicted of the following
felonies: murder, rape, voluntary
manslaughter, statutory sexual assault,
involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, arson,
aggravated assault, certain types of robbery,
kidnapping, criminal conspiracy or attempt to
commit any of the crimes listed above.
Other felonies normally require you to wait 2
years from your sentencing to include any
probation or parole. If you have
been pardoned or exonerated for the specified
crime, you will not be restricted in changing
your name. In any case mentioned above, it
is best to consult an attorney.
All the documents and
information accessible from the links above are in the
public domain and a matter of public record. Though we considered
these resources to be helpful to the transgendered community when we
posted the links, neither TransCentralPA nor its officers or members
warrants or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the
accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus,
product, or processes disclosed or provided on these sites, or for
updated information or changes made to these sites. Various content
on these sites may also be subject to copyright by authors, journals
and publishers. Use of the copyrighted material is subject to the
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