Changing your name in Pennsylvania can be a time-consuming and costly process. The process usually involves filing a detailed petition, publishing notice in a newspaper and legal journal and a court hearing. The good news for those who want to resume their previous last name during or after divorce, the process is much easier and only involves a relatively simple filing.
Many people have the misunderstanding that you can only resume your previous last name after a divorce decree is entered. This is simply not true. Under Pennsylvania law, you can file a notice to resume your former surname at any time after the divorce complaint is filed; you do not have to wait for the divorce decree to be entered.
There is also no time limit for changing your name after divorce. You can resume your former last name through the simple procedure outlined above at any time after the divorce decree is entered. This means that if you received your divorce decree five, ten, or even twenty years ago, you can still resume your previous surname through the simple filing and do not have to go through the hassle of the usual change of name process.
The law that allows divorcing and divorced persons to resume their former last names provides as follows:
Divorcing and divorced person may resume prior name
(a) General rule.--Any person who is a party in a divorce action may, at any time prior to or subsequent to the entry of the divorce decree, resume any prior surname used by him or her by filing a written notice to such effect in the office of the prothonotary of the county in which the divorce action was filed or the decree of divorce was entered, showing the caption and docket number of the proceeding in divorce.
(b) Foreign decrees.--Where a divorced person has been the subject of a decree of divorce granted in a foreign jurisdiction, a certified copy of such foreign divorce decree may be filed with the prothonotary of the county where the person resides and, thereafter, the notice specified in subsection (a) may be filed with reference to such decree.
If you are interested in resuming your previous last name, please call the Elderkin Law Firm at (814) 456-4000 to speak with Attorney James H. Richardson, Jr., Attorney Stacey K. Baltz or Attorney Rachel A. George.