How to do it...
I am writing this post because an uncontested name change of a child
in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania is easy,
but is so undocumented that easy becomes frustrating.
I want to help someone else looking for information to guide them.
So if you are not interested in that information,
this post is more or less over.
I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.
I cannot be held liable if anything you do goes wrong!
This is just how we did it -
minus the running in circles.
I hope it helps minimize confusion for someone else.
File a Petition with the Court
1. The Petition.
Type the Petition, do not leave out information or you may have to refile.
Both parents sign it and have it notarized.
Here is what we used. (It is posted on my flickr account for you to view.)
2. Finger Prints
If the minor is age 13 or older you must provide finger prints with the petition. The court does not provide fingerprint cards and neither did the local police stations. Download a card here. (Standard-fingerprint-form-fd-258) Print it on card stock.
Call your local police station to make arrangements for fingerprinting. Mine did it for free as a resident,
but many charge a small fee for the service. The State Police will do it for free at certain locations. You will need to take a valid ID of the minor with you for the service. We used a US Passport.
These are the two forms we used. We typed and filled in the appropriate contact information leaving blanks blank.
4. We hand delivered the Petition, finger print cards, Order for Hearing, and Order for Publication
to the Prothonatary's Office in the Montgomery County Court House. You will need to go through security at the Court House. There is a fee and it must be paid in cash or money order. We paid $136.50. Some clerks will charge a copy fee, it depends on which clerk you get.
Publication of the Hearing
Shortly after we filed the Petition, we received a notice for our hearing in the mail. Once received, we publicized notice of the hearing in the Montgomery County Law Reporter ($86) AND a newspaper of largest circulation for our residence ($56). The newspaper staff will guide you through this. Make sure you request proof of publication from both newspapers. You need to take the proof of publication with you to the hearing.
We went as scheduled to the hearing. Be sure to bring money for parking/meters, proof of publication and your Order for the Hearing. Check that there have been no courtroom changes once you arrive to the courtroom specified on your hearing notice. When we arrived, our courtroom assignment had been changed and we only noticed a sign stating so hanging on the door after we waited a bit.
At the hearing will be all the name changes for that day, but it moves quickly. The judge will call your party (parents and child) forward. He will ask a parent, in legal speak, what you want. STAND and tell him you are requesting your child's name changed from abc to xyz.
The judge will then call a parent to the witness box for testimony. He will ask you why you are changing the child's name. If the child is older he will also ask the child if the child agrees to the name change. The minor child should STAND and say "Yes, Your Honor."
This is done for each petitioner. We were lucky, there were only two parties on our given day. In that case, we were able to leave with our name change documentation in hand. We were taken to the Prothonotary's Office where the Name Change Order was notarized ($5.25 per copy/cash only.) I had no idea how many copies we would need, the Notary mentioned offhandedly that people usually request 3-5. So we requested 4.
FYI: We filed on 7/9 and the hearing was scheduled for 9/12. From the time our hearing began until we left the courthouse was 1/2 hour. There were only 2 name change petitions for the day, there can be 15 or more according to the deputy who helped us.
Hooray, now the name is changed. Now I need to update the birth certificate, Social Security Number, school records, doctor's records, bank records, sport's records, insurance records, no driver's license yet, Passport...
Good luck with your name change!
This is not legal advice.
These are our observations from our personal experience on how we did our name change.
You should verify all information with the Prothonotary before proceeding.
You can also hire an attorney.
For a new birth certificate ($10) with your court order: