In the state of Pennsylvania, residents -- including those who live in Berks County -- who wish to have their name changed must first get approval from the court system. Many people choose to change their last names once they are married, but name changes are allowed under any circumstance as long as the proper procedures are followed. The process of changing a name requires filing a petition and going through a court hearing process.
Go the Berks County Court of Common Pleas and file a petition to change your name. This petition should include the intended name as well as the reason for changing the name. The petition should also include your address, as well as any addresses you have had during the past five years. If married, the spouse may join the petition. The cost to file a petition for a name change in Berks County is $192.90, which includes the satisfaction fee and the order fee. There may be other costs for additional copies or mailed copies, for example.
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Check with the court to see when a hearing has been set for a judge to consider your petition. You, as well as your spouse if on the petition, should attend.
Give required public notice for the hearing. The State of Pennsylvania requires that you notify any parent of a child who is affected by the name change who is not part of the petition. The hearing date also must be published in at least two newspapers. These newspapers must be in the general circulation of Berks County. The notification also must be published no more than three months away, but at least 30 days out, from the scheduled hearing date.
Attend the hearing. At this hearing, anyone may object to the name change. If there are no objections and the court is satisfied, the name change petition should be approved.
Once the name petition is approved, change any documents in which your old name is used. These may include a driver's license, utility bills, credit cards and bank accounts. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has specific forms that must be filled out to change your driver's license. There is a $12 fee to get a new license with a new photo, though it may cost more if you have special exemptions or other requirements. There is no fee if you are simply changing the name.
Pennsylvania has what is known as a "name change law." Some people, such as felons, may not be allowed to change their names under this law.
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