§ 701. Court approval required for change of name.
(a) General rule.--Except as set forth in subsection (b), it shall be unlawful for any person to assume a name different from the name by which such person is and has been known, unless such change in name is made pursuant to proceedings in court in accordance with subsection (a.1).
(1) An individual must file a petition in the court of common pleas of the county in which the individual resides. If a petitioner is married, the petitioner's spouse may join as a party petitioner, in which event, upon compliance with the provisions of this subsection, the spouse shall also be entitled to the benefits of this subsection.
(2) The petition must set forth all of the following:
(i) The intention to change the petitioner's name.
(ii) The reason for the name change.
(iii) The current residence of petitioner.
(iv) Any residence of the petitioner for the five years prior to the date of the petition.
(v) If the petitioner requests the court proceed under paragraph (3)(iii).
(3) Upon filing of the petition, the court shall do all of the following:
(i) Set a date for a hearing on the petition. The hearing shall be held not less than one month nor more than three months after the petition is filed.
(ii) Except as provided in subparagraph (iii), by order, direct that notice be given of the filing of the petition and of the date set for the hearing on the petition and that the notice be treated as follows:
(A) Published in two newspapers of general circulation in the county where the petitioner resides or a county contiguous to that county. One of the publications may be in the official paper for the publication of legal notices in the county.
(B) Given to any nonpetitioning parent of a child whose name may be affected by the proceedings.
(iii) If the court finds that the notice required in subparagraph (ii) would jeopardize the safety of the person seeking the name change or his or her child or ward, the notice required shall be waived by order of the court. Upon granting the request to waive any notice requirement, the court shall seal the file. In all cases filed under this paragraph, whether or not the name change petition is granted, there shall be no public access to any court record of the name change petition, proceeding or order, unless the name change is granted but the file is not sealed. The records shall only be opened by order of the court in which the petition was granted based upon a showing of good cause or at the applicant's request.
(4) At the hearing, the following apply:
(i) Any person having lawful objection to the change of name may appear and be heard.
(ii) The petitioner must present to the court all of the following:
(A) Proof of publication of the notice under paragraph (3)(ii) unless petitioner requested the court proceed under paragraph (3)(iii) and the court granted the request.
(B) An official search of the proper offices of the county where petitioner resides and of any other county where petitioner has resided within five years prior to filing the petition showing that there are no judgments, decrees of record or other similar matters against the petitioner. This clause may be satisfied by a certificate given by a corporation authorized by law to make the search under this clause.
(5) The court may enter a decree changing the name as petitioned if the court is satisfied after the hearing that there is no lawful objection to the granting of the petition.
(b) Informal change of name.--Notwithstanding subsection (a), a person may at any time adopt and use any name if such name is used consistently, nonfraudulently and exclusively. The adoption of such name shall not, however, be in contravention of the prohibitions contained in section 702(c) (relating to change by order of court).
(June 18, 1998, P.L.638, No.83, eff. 60 days; Nov. 30, 2004, P.L.1684, No.214, eff. 60 days)
2004 Amendment. Act 214 amended subsec. (a) and added subsec. (a.1).Section: 701 702 703 704 704.1 705 Next
Last modified: October 8, 2016