Changing Your Name After Divorce

One big question: should you change your name after divorce? Even if you’re not sure just yet, it’s important to think about now — before and during divorce — so that you have the option later.

Name Change Option 1:

Make sure your divorce decree gives you the option of changing your name back to your maiden name.

You may not decide to change your name for another two years. But if it’s not part of your divorce decree, it’s going to require another legal proceeding, which means more time and more money. The best bet is to include it in the divorce decree. This doesn’t mean you have to change your name, but gives you the option to do so.

If you don’t have an attorney and are filing on your own, ask the court for a divorce petition, which includes a box you can check indicating you’d like the option to return to your maiden name.

How to change your name back after divorce. Photo by Sebastien Wiertz.
How to change your name back after divorce. Photo by Sebastien Wiertz.

Name Change Option 2:

You have already filed your divorce petition, but if nothing is complete, you can file an amended petition with the name change option.

Name Change Option 3:

If you did not include the name change as part of your original divorce, you can still get it done by filing a post-judgment motion. You may have to appear in court to testify about your reason for the name change and you will likely have to provide copies of your birth certificate, marriage license, and divorce decree.

Using Your Maiden Name
During separation, you may feel compelled to begin using your maiden name. While that’s perfectly fine, you must still sign your legal name to any documents and refer to yourself that way for legal and government purposes.

Using a Different Name
Typically, a divorce decree allows you to revert back to an old name. If you want to change your name completely, ask your attorney how to handle the situation.

Important Reminders
Once you change your name, don’t forget to notify government entities, creditors, and everyone else. Just as when you changed it the first time, you’ll have to start with the Social Security Administration and work your way to the DMV, banks, and more.

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