Introduction - Name change for Minors
Parents often wish to change their children's names when they make a new
start in life. A name change for a child is simple, if the birth certificate was
issued in Pennsylvania and both biological or adoptive parents consent to the
change of name. Both of the biological parents must complete and sign the form
on the back of their child's birth certificate. A legible copy of one parent's
valid government issued photo ID must be included with the correction request.
There is a $4 fee if the original (incorrect) birth certificate is returned with
your request. This fee will be waived for members of the armed forces. The form
is then mailed to the Department of Vital Statistics. The Department of Vital
Statistics will send the parents a new birth certificate containing the child's
Please note that Social Security will not change your child's name on his
or her Social Security card unless you get a court order to change his or her
name or you can show Social Security two acceptable forms of identification for
the child, one in the child's previous name and one in the name on the new birth
certificate. Some acceptable forms of identification include: a passport, school
identification card, health insurance card and state issued identification card.
It is very important that your child's name be the same on his or her birth
certificate as on his or her Social Security card as it may otherwise be
difficult in the future for your child to get a driver's license, passport or
state issued identification card.
More information on changing a child's name on a Pennsylvania birth
certificate may be found on the Internet at:
petition for a change of name for a child, where the other parent will not
consent, should not be attempted without the advice of an attorney, because a
petition must be filed in court. An attorney will help you find out if the Court
is likely to grant a name change under the particular circumstances of your
case. The following general rules apply to such petitions.
- The Judicial Standard for changing the name of a child is "the
best interest of the child." A parent or guardian who is seeking to change
the name of a child must prove that the change is in the best interest of
the child. The following matters are usually considered by the Court in
determining whether to grant a petition to change a child's name:
- The natural bond between parent and child.
A change of name may affect the relationship between a parent and child.
Most Courts find it in "best interest of the child" to maintain the link between
parent and child. The Court will look at the parent's history of visitation with
the child, whether child support payments have been maintained, and whether the
parent has been consistently involved in the child's life. The Court must also
consider the ties between the child and the parent's extended family.
- The social impact or respect afforded a particular name in the
community. A name change may be granted by the Court to protect a child
from the bad reputation of a biological parent in the community. The link
between the parent and child may cause embarrassment or problems for the
child in school and the community. For example, a name change may be granted
where a parent has committed a notorious crime in the community and the
child suffers harassment because of bearing his or her parents' surname.
- The age and ability of the child to understand the significance of
changing his or her name. A Court is reluctant to change the name of a
child when it fears that the petitioning parent is motivated by self
interest. Children who are involved in bitter divorces or custody battles
are often influenced by
parents. The Court may look to the child to figure out whether the child
understands the impact of changing his or her name. A young child will most
likely not be able to understand what it will mean to change his or her
name. Of course, a teenager can probably express his or her desire and
understanding of the impact of the name change to a greater degree. The
Court will decide how much weight to give to the desires of the child.
We have attempted to insure the accuracy of the information in this pamphlet at the time
it was created or revised. However, the law does change, sometimes quickly and
unexpectedly. Therefore, you should consult an attorney before taking or refraining from
any action based on the information in this pamphlet.
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