Divorce And Name Changes: 6 Things You Need To Know

30 July 2015
 Categories: Law, Blog

Divorce decrees include a provision to take back your maiden name, if you desire. What this means is that you can revert back to your maiden name without having to file any separate paperwork or attend court just to have your name changed. Divorce is all about change, and for some the changing of the last name signals a fresh beginning. However, this decision should not be taken lightly; to help you understand the ramifications of name changes with your divorce, read on.

1.  The decision to change back to your maiden name is strictly your choice; there is no law compelling you. You can continue to legally use your ex-spouse's name for the remainder of your life, if you wish. You should, however, consider the potential for confusion if your ex remarries and the new wife also wants to use his last name, but this should not deter you from keeping your present last name.

2.  Your attorney will likely give you the option to revert back to your maiden name, and to include the correct wording in your divorce decree as required by your state. If you have already filed your divorce petition, you may be able to amend it to include the provision for the name change. Sometimes this can be done even if your divorce is already final.

3.  If you do change your name, you will need to update quite a lot of documents. Get a list ready to prevent overlooking these important documents, bills and accounts:

  • Social Security card
  • Passport
  • Driver's License
  • Deeds and Titles
  • Bank Accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Utilities
  • Loans (mortgage, student, personal, business, vehicle)
  • Insurance policies (auto, health, renters, home, life)
  • Voter registration
  • Investments accounts and retirement plans
  • Records at your child's school.
  • Any work-related documents such as business cards and stationery, human resource paperwork, etc.

4.  Name changes are not just for women; many men adopt a hyphenated version of their wife's name when they get married. The same rules apply to name changes for men; it should be part of the divorce decree.

5.  States may have their own, unique rules for dealing with name change and divorces, so be sure to consult wit your attorney about the particular rules in your state.

6.  If you want to change your name to an altogether new name, you cannot use your divorce decree to do so. The divorce petition only provides for name changes that revert your name back to your maiden name (or pre-marriage name if you have hyphenated your name).

Consult with your divorce attorney for more information about your decision to take back your maiden name with your divorce petition.