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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: March 18, 2013 09:43 AM
From: Senator Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Amendments to Name Change Process
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would make two changes to the name change process in Pennsylvania.

The current process for an individual to change their name is both overly burdensome and costly. My legislation would look to streamline the process for and ease some of the cost to the individual petitioning the court for the change.

The first change would move the court venue to the Orphans Court division within the Court of Common Pleas. Currently, petitioners must file in the Court of Common Pleas, and in turn, pay the same filing fee as a jury trial. Name changes are not nearly on the same level of complexity as a jury trial and, therefore, should not be treated as such. This will also ease the docket congestion in the Court of Common Pleas, thus making the process faster. By requiring these petitions to be handled by orphans court, the cost burden could be lowered and petitions processed more expediently.

The second change in the process would remove the notice requirement that an individual must publish in two newspapers of general circulation when petitioning for a change of name. Instead, it would be required that the Internet website for the Orphans Court Division of the Court of common Pleas publish the petition notice and hearing date. This would still provide a level of disclosure and keep the public informed while easing the cost of publication currently on the individual. This change would not alter the provision in the current process that direct notice be given to any non-petitioning parent of a child whose name may be affected by the proceedings.

My legislation would also not remove the felony prohibitions for name change currently in statute, nor remove the requirement to be fingerprinted for a criminal background check, nor the civil judgment search proof requirement.

The name change process costs Pennsylvanians hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars in court, publication, judgment search and attorney’s fees. My legislation would ease the cost to the petitioner and increase the efficiency through the court system without putting the greater public’s safety at risk.

Please join me in sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as SB1064