How Do I Change My Legal Name in Pennsylvania?

There are many reasons one may consider changing their legal name.  Common reasons can include a name change due to a marriage, which is the easiest time to do a name change by simply listing your new last name and former/maiden name on the Marriage Certificate.  Once the marriage ceremony has taken place, the issued marriage license legally changes your name and is legal proof of the change to notify business entities of same.

In the matter of divorce, many spouses prefer to go back to their former name or maiden name. Filing a written notice including the docket number of the divorce case or copy of the divorce decree must be presented to the county prothonotary to start the process of change.

Situations other than marriage or divorce can trigger a petition for legal name change with the court, such as death of a spouse, changing a child’s surname, hyphenating surnames, religious, and ethnic or even for just personal reasons, all of which must be formally approved by the court.  Name changes for reasons of fraudulent or deceptive purposes to avoid financial responsibility or engage in illegal acts are prohibited by the court.

For a Legal Name Change in Bucks County, you must also obtain a fingerprint card from the police department that serves the city, borough or township where you reside.  You can also go to a Pennsylvania State Police barracks for the fingerprint card if your municipality is not served by a local police department. You must bring an original of your Petition, one copy, your filing fee (cash, check or money order) to the Prothonotary’s Office at the Courthouse.

The Prothonotary’s Office will forward the petition/order to the Court to schedule a hearing in not less than 45 days to allow time for you to publish notice of your intent to change your name as required by Statute.  Prior to the hearing, you must have signed certification of a name search done by the Prothonotary’s Office (provided by the Prothonotary), Clerk of Courts and the Recorder of Deeds, not less than 48 hours prior to your hearing. On the day of the hearing, you must show proof of publication and signed certifications of a name search from the Prothonotary, Clerk of Courts and Recorder of Deeds.

The process of changing your legal name can be confusing and seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.  Let the Law Office of Dawn Padanyi, LLC can assist you every step of the way.  Give us a call today.