Following a divorce, it is common for the former spouses to want to want to change their names back to what they were before, and begin their life anew. Depending on the circumstances, the process involved can be either simple and quick, or lengthy and complicated.
Changing Your Name As An Adult
Name changes post-divorce are surprisingly simple. For a newly divorced adult, they need only head to the county court where the divorce was finalized, fill out a name change request form, and pay the necessary fee. If the divorce was decreed in a different state, they will need to bring proof of the divorce when they file for a name change. Name changes that are a result of a divorce are relatively simple to attain, however, a name change for any other reason is somewhat more difficult to achieve. Due to concerns regarding credit reporting, evading a criminal history, or committing fraud, Pennsylvania may not grant a name change if a divorce is not involved.
Changing A Minor's Name
At times, parents or caretakers may wish to change the name of a minor. This situation can arise as a result of parents who have divorced, or if there is a change in custody. This process can be simple if both of the natural parents of a child willingly consent to the name change. If both parents consent, then they need only fill out a name change form which can be found at the back of the child's birth certificate. This form is then mailed in and a new birth certificate showing the correct name is issued. If the parents of the child, however, do not agree, this process becomes somewhat more complicated.
When only one of the parents wishes for the child's name or surname to be changed, the parent must file a petition for a name change with the court. The court, like any matter involving a child, will rule with the standard of what is "best for the child" based upon evaluations of the following:
- Age of the child: The age of the child will affect their ability to understand the significance of the name change. This can be both positive and negative for a potential name change. A younger child may not have any care of whether or not their name is changed, but an older child may have an opinion on what they wish their name to be.
- Social aspects: If the change in name will affect the child's social standing in their school or friend circles, the court may not be willing to change it. Such circumstances include if a parent's surname is well-known or notorious for any reason.
- Bond between child and parent: If the name change will disrupt the bond between the child and parent, the court may not grant the name change. To some, surnames carry a great deal of generation weight, and history, changing a surname can jeopardize this.
If you or a loved one is seeking a name change or involved in other matters of Family Law, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.