Name Change And Divorce
Shakespeare’s Juliet famously asked, “What’s in a name?” For many people, the answer is actually quite a lot. Your name may be the single biggest identifier in your life. To retain the name of an ex-spouse can be a constantly frustrating reminder of a difficult time in your life from which you may prefer to move on.
Fortunately, the law provides methods of changing your legal name at almost any time, for any reason or for no reason. However, some of these methods are more difficult and costly than others. If you are changing your name due to a divorce that is still in process, you can simplify the process by including the name change as part of your divorce.
Name Change By Petition
This is the most difficult and costly process, but it is available to any adult regardless of situation or marital status. You will need to fill out paperwork, file the forms, pay a fee, and attend a hearing. You may also have to undergo a criminal background check and publish a public notice in the newspaper.
If you changed your name when you got married, you probably already know that this process has been legally simplified for wives who take their husband’s names upon marriage. Interestingly, and perhaps unfairly, there are no such simplified avenues for a husband who wishes to take his wife’s surname upon marriage. Those husbands who wish to do so must file a petition as they would under any other circumstances.
Name Change Included in Divorce
If your divorce is still in process, you do not have to file a petition to change back to your maiden name. All you have to do is include a clause or counterclaim in your divorce documents stating that this is your desire and then testify to it at your divorce hearing. This should be allowed as long as you are returning to a name that you have used in the past. If, on the other hand, you wish to adopt an entirely new name, you will probably be required to file a petition.
Name Change by Amending Divorce Decree
If your divorce has already been finalized but you would still like to revert to using your maiden name, there may be a third option available to you. It may be possible to amend the divorce decree to reflect your wishes and obtain a court order to change back to your maiden name. However, this option may not be available in all states.
Regardless of how you revert to your maiden name, you will then have to change legal documents like your Social Security card and driver’s license to reflect the change. An attorney may be able to advise you on this and other legal matters related to divorce and family law.