Some people want to go back to their maiden name, or prior name when they are divorcing their spouse. Others choose to keep the married name for the sake of the kids or for some other reason. Still more decide that perhaps it’s time for a whole new identity, and what better way to do that than with a completely new name?
Some people wonder whether they can change their full name during divorce or if they are only permitted to return to their legal name from before the marriage. There is no simple answer here, but it’s really not a complicated issue, either. Read on to learn all about changing your name after divorce, or at any other time in your life.
Name Changes with Divorce
Those who are going back to their maiden name after a divorce can file a name change request along with the divorce petition. This will allow the courts to issue a decree warranting the name change. The final divorce decree should also include your changed name, as that is what you’ll need to change your name with all government agencies, banks, employers, etc.
You may want to get multiple copies of the divorce decree because you’ll have a lot of places that will need the document to process your name change. It’s also a good idea to change your driver’s license or state ID before you head to the Social Security office (or website) to inform them of your name change and apply for a new card.
Name Changes After Divorce
If you didn’t change your name during the divorce proceedings, you can file for a name change request with your county probate court. There is a filing fee that you will have to pay, and you will need to provide a photo ID and your Social Security Number. Once you file this request, the court will contact you to schedule a hearing date.
At the name change hearing, you will typically meet with a magistrate in a private office setting, rather than a large courtroom. The magistrate or judge will inquire about the name change, including why you want it, as well as whether you have any outstanding debts, warrants, or legal issues that could indicate you’re trying to evade the law. Then, they will usually approve the name change request and issue a court order that you can use to change your name with banks, creditors, etc.
The courts do not have to allow you to change your name, so keep that in mind. Although most will approve the name change as long as you aren’t trying to avoid debts or legal issues, there is no guarantee.
Changes To the Divorce Order
Some divorce courts will allow you to request a change to the divorce decree that includes changing your name, even if you didn’t request it during the divorce. This way, you can just get a change to the existing divorce order, and you won’t have to go through the whole legal name change process, which takes more time and money.
If you want to take on an entirely new name after your divorce, you may be better off filing a standard name change in court. Many divorce courts will permit the change back to the former legal name, but they may question other name changes, such as if you want a completely different last name or you want to change your first name.
You will want to talk to your attorney about the name change that you desire and the best way to go about getting it. If they’re well-versed in the local probate court laws and statutes, they’ll be able to explain the best way to get your legal name changed and whether changes to the divorce order are the answer.
Changing Your Name Elsewhere
Once you’ve gotten legal approval to change your name, you will need to notify every single entity that has your name on file and that needs to keep current records. This includes your employer, the DMV (for license and registration records), banks and credit cards, utilities, subscriptions, etc. It helps if you sit down and write out a list of places that you need to submit your name change to so that you can cross them off as you go and make sure that you don’t miss anything.
Changing your name with Social Security is a big part of the process, too. You’ll need to apply for a new card and include a copy of the divorce decree or name change order with the application. You’ll also need to provide proof of U.S. citizenship and residency, and proof of your identity and age. Once you provide all that, they will send you a new card with your correct name so that your Social Security Number matches.
Talk to an Attorney
The best thing that you can do to get through the divorce and name change process is to talk to an experienced divorce lawyer that knows the laws and legal processes in your jurisdiction. They will be able to help you decide how to navigate the name change process, whether it’s just a change back to your maiden name or you want to create a whole new identity.
A divorce is a stressful process and it’s something that a lot of people want to forget as much as they possibly can. Changing your name can be a great way to start fresh and rebuild your life after divorce. It might also be a safety issue related to domestic violence or other bad relationships, and in those cases, it could be critical to make sure that you have a lawyer to help you through the process as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Reach out to the Modern Law team to discuss your needs for divorce lawyers, name change lawyers, and any other legal needs that you have. We can walk you through the process and help you get your name change filed swiftly so you can get back to your life.