After a divorce, it’s common for the spouse who takes the other’s name to revert to using their maiden name. This choice is mostly personal and voluntary, and the name change process, in this case, isn’t very complicated.
However, sometimes a parent may wish to change a child’s name after a divorce. These cases are less common and more complicated than those involving a spouse. Therefore, if you’re considering a name change for your child, seek the counsel of family lawyers in Media, PA.
Changing a Child’s Name Through a Parent’s Legal Name Change
In Pennsylvania, there are two ways to change the legal name of a child. The first is through a default name change. According to the law, if a custodian parent changes their name legally, the child will automatically take the parent’s new last name. The exception is if the court issues an order stating that the child won’t take the new name.
If you are a custodian parent and your name change will affect your child, you must serve the non-custodial parent with a copy of the Petition and Notice of legal name change.
Through a Court Order
The other way to change a child’s legal name to one that’s different from that of the custodian parent is through a court order. The first step is to your fingerprints on record at a local law enforcement agency. This service will require a fee.
Then, fill a Petition, Verification, Notice, Order, and Decree with the Court of Commons Pleas in the county where the child resides. The Petition will include the reasons you want a name change, and it must be signed by both parents. Additionally, both parents must sign their verification.
Afterward, file the Petition, Verification, Order, Notice, and Decree with the Common Pleas Court. These documents must be accompanied by a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate and the parent’s fingerprint card. If your co-parent doesn’t consent to the name change, you’ll have to serve him/her with the Petition.
After filing your Petition, you’ll receive a copy of the Notice, listing the date, time, and place for the court hearing. Once you receive this Notice, your next step should be to announce the name change to the public by publishing the Notice in two newspapers. Additionally, request proof of publication from both newspapers, as you’ll need them during the court hearing.
Factors Considered by the Court
At the court hearing, the judge listens to arguments from anyone who has a legal objection to the name change. It’s best to hire one of the best family lawyers in Media PA, to help present your case. Before approving or denying a name change, the judge will determine if it’s legitimate or for fraud purposes.
Most importantly, the judge will evaluate if a name change is for the child’s best interest. Some of the factors the judge will consider in determining the child’s best interest includes:
- How long the child had been named
- The identity of siblings or family members named similarly
- The child’s relationship with both parents and extended family members
- The social impact of a particular name in society
- The child’s preference, if applicable
Changing a child’s name after a divorce isn’t always as straightforward as an adult name change. In some cases, one parent may contest the name change, leading to a complicated court case. It’s always advisable to have family lawyers in Media, PA, handle your case in court