Successful birth certificate change in PA

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Successful birth certificate change in PA

Postby 846newyorker » 01 May 2012, 03:05

I thought I'd mention that I was recently successful in changing my deceased grandfather's birth certificate in Pennsylvania. I know there are others in the same situation and also that there has been some question as to whether this is possible or worth it.

The question for me was whether to change his other documents to match the birth certificate, or change the birth certificate to match the other documents. I decided on the latter because the birth certificate didn't match anything else. His name and birth date were completely different from what he used on all his other documents.

I gathered the following materials: baptism certificate, military records, social security records, passport records, marriage certificate, death certificate. I got a lawyer in the county of his birth, who petitioned the orphans court there. The lawyer also got a letter from PA Vital Records stating that it had no opinion on the matter and would not attend the hearing. Then, once the judge signed the order (I didn't need to be present at the hearing), I sent the order to Vital Records to have the corrections made.

It took a good 8 months between the gathering of all the documents, the preparation of the petition, and then the hearing. Between the document gathering and the lawyer's fees, it cost about $3,000. That was a lot more time and money than I'd counted on, but in the end I think it was the right decision.
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Re: Successful birth certificate change in PA

Postby jennabet » 01 May 2012, 12:45

.....I got a lawyer in the county of his birth, who petitioned the orphans court there. The lawyer also got a letter from PA Vital Records stating that it had no opinion on the matter and would not attend the hearing. Then, once the judge signed the order (I didn't need to be present at the hearing), I sent the order to Vital Records to have the corrections made.....

I don't understand how a name and birthdate on a birth certificate can be completely different from all the documents used later in life unless you're talking about two different people and I don't think any consulate should accept this type of change as proof that the person is one and the same. For the purpose of Italian citizenship and to show the line of descent, the birth certificate is the most important document. This type of manipulation done "legally" for a fee by less than scrupulous lawyers is the reason the consulates have to keep adding layers and layers of checks, which in the end are more costly and time consuming to everyone attempting to apply.
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Re: Successful birth certificate change in PA

Postby mler » 01 May 2012, 13:54

If the corrected birth certificate is a reissued certificate with only the new information on it, there would be no way for the consulate to know the extent of the correction. If, as in NYC, the old information is crossed out and the new information written in, the correction will be noticeable.

However, it seems that PA would not issue a corrected bc unless the courts were convinced that the change was accurate. Since the corrected certificate is a legally issued and certified document, it seems unlikely that the consulate would have a problem with it. After all they DO ask and expect discrepancies to be corrected. I've not heard of any case in which a consulate questioned the correction.
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Re: Successful birth certificate change in PA

Postby 846newyorker » 01 May 2012, 14:51

PA issues new certificates, unlike NYC cross-outs, so there's now no record of the old information.

In addition, all PA certificates are computer generated extracts. No one has access to the original certificates themselves, unless you get a subpoena. So if you suspect the computer extract is incorrect as compared to the original, you'll have to go to court anyway.

How odd that someone would consider this shady or unscrupulous! Everything was done on the level and in fact this method was far more respectful of the historical record -- rather than piecemeal changing two or three of my grandfather's docs, instead I made sure that they were all consistent. In the petition we stated clearly why I was making the change and in fact showed that, whatever the birth date, my eligibility for citizenship was not changed.
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Re: Successful birth certificate change in PA

Postby jennabet » 01 May 2012, 19:16

......PA issues new certificates, unlike NYC cross-outs, so there's now no record of the old information......

Interesting that you couldn't get this done without paying a lawyer $3,000. I'm sure the Philadelphia consulate is more than aware that PA is now issuing new certificates instead of amending old ones and this would be all the more reason for the Philly consulate to thoroughly examine this document before giving it's certification. But I don't believe the old information is gone forever anyway because your lawyer and the court would have in fact wiped out the record of possibly some other person. I think this information is somewhere there in the State of Pennsylvania and hopefully, the Philly consulate knows where to look.
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Re: Successful birth certificate change in PA

Postby jennabet » 01 May 2012, 20:22

By the way, if my own grand-father's birth certificate listed a completely different name and birthdate, I would assume that the man I knew to be my grand-father was in fact NOT my grand-father but rather someone who was taking his place. You may still be eligible for Italian citizenship based on the birthdate info but it's the completely different name that I have a problem with.
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Re: Successful birth certificate change in PA

Postby mler » 01 May 2012, 20:25

It's really not fair to assume that the bc in question belonged to another person. I tend to think that a court order for correction would not be possible unless the applicant was able to demonstrate to the court's satisfaction that the bc certificate belonged to the same person named in subsequent documents. Likely the parents' names and other identifying criteria established the connection.
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Re: Successful birth certificate change in PA

Postby 846newyorker » 01 May 2012, 21:32

For goodness sake the name was an Italianized version of his American name that he never used at any time in his life and would certainly not have been accepted by the consulate, but it's the same name. It's obviously the same person as the PA judge agreed (and as anyone would plainly see) and your baseless speculation is preposterous!
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Re: Successful birth certificate change in PA

Postby jennabet » 01 May 2012, 22:30

If you had stated that it was the Italian version of the name, there would have been no speculation on my part.
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Re: Successful birth certificate change in PA

Postby KarenChristino » 01 May 2012, 23:56

I am heading in this direction in NYC and it's good to hear that you were successful. Do you mind sharing how much you had to pay for the lawyer's fee? I'd love to see the papers if you don't mind as no one seems to know how to do this and we have asked a few lawyers already. I am spending so much time at the archives with no end in sight that it seems like it may be a better use of my energy just to go to court.

Thanks,
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Re: Successful birth certificate change in PA

Postby KarenChristino » 02 May 2012, 00:00

The Orphan's Court handles wills and estates, correct? In NY it's called the Surrogate's Court and I've always assumed that since we're dealing with the vital records of someone who's already passed that it should be a Surrogate's Court matter and not a Supreme Court issue.
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