Appeal from the order entered docketed October 27, 1988 in the Court of common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil. No: 1639 Aug. Term, 1988.
Richard L. Gerson, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Joseph P. Stampone, Philadelphia, appellee.
Wieand, Beck and Montgomery, JJ.
[ 387 Pa. Super. Page 402]
Appellant, Stanley Kopertowski, the natural father of Jaime Lynn Richie, appeals an order granting the petition of Jaime Lynn's mother to change the child's surname.
Jaime Lynn Richie was born out of wedlock to Stanley Kopertowski and Lisa Richie. The child has always shared her mother's surname, and has resided with her mother since birth. Appellant contributes to the support of the child and both he and the child's paternal grandmother have maintained a continuous relationship with Jaime Lynn.
In June of 1986, Lisa Richie married Kevin Boehm, assumed the surname of Boehm, and filed a petition to change the child's surname to Boehm. In the petition, Lisa Boehm noted that the child would soon be enrolled at a parochial grade school and that she believed it to be in the child's best interest to share the new surname of her mother. The petition also noted the fact that the child had at no time assumed the surname of her natural father. The trial court found that the name change would be in the best interest of the child and the petition was granted. This appeal followed.
Appellant asserts that the trial court erred in granting the name change petition: (1) in the absence of any supporting testimony or evidence; (2) where it placed the burden of proof upon appellant; and (3) where it disregarded appellant's legitimate objections to the name change, particularly, that it would interfere with his relationship with the child.
[ 387 Pa. Super. Page 403]
Initially, we note that in granting or refusing a name change petition after due hearing and notice, the court has wide discretion. Matter of Montenegro, 365 Pa. Super. 98, 100, 528 A.2d 1381, 1383 (1987). Our scope of review is limited to the question of whether the evidence is sufficient to support the decision reached by the court. Id.
Appellant contends that the trial court erred in making its decision based upon argument by counsel where appellant had no opportunity to present his testimony and where the court disregarded appellant's objections to the name change. In support of his position, appellant cites to the notes following 54 Pa.C.S.A. § 101 (Purdon supp. 1989):
(a) Any person desiring to change his or her name shall file a Petition in the court of common pleas in the county in which he or she shall reside, setting forth such desire and intention and the reason therefor, together with the residence of petitioner, and his or ...