Often times, when people get married, they change their names as a result.

The most common scenario is that a woman simply changes her name to reflect her husband’s last name. In other cases, she may choose to hyphenate her name, taking on both her last name and the last name of her husband.

Of course, many people find these older customs a bit barbaric or anti-feminist. So, in some cases, both parties may choose to hyphenate their names to solidify the marriage.

In any event, if a last name is changed either entirely or just in some way due to marriage, one or both parties may wish to revert back to their old names or even to take a new name after a divorce.

If this scenario applies to you, you may find yourself wondering how to change your name.  And, you will be glad to know that it is often a much simpler process than you might have imagined.

Consider Changing Your Name When You File For Divorce 

lawyer and couple discussing divorce plans

​Image by : ​rawpixel​​​

If you know, as soon as you go into the divorce proceedings, that you wish to change your name back to your old name, it’s often easiest to do it right then and there.

People often don’t do this when there are children involved or when they think the marriage may end up working out, despite the proceedings. However, many people later regret this decision and wish they would have changed their names when it was easiest to do so.

Obviously, this is a very personal decision. However, if you already know, as soon as you file for divorce, that you wish to change your name, our suggestion is to go ahead and include it in your divorce petition.

Of course, with that in mind, we do have to mention that laws on whether or not you can “change back” your name in a divorce petition do vary from state to state.

Most states are more than willing to allow you to do this, but make sure that you know the laws in your state before you ask for something that may not be legal where you live.

If your state does allow a name change request to be included in your petition, work with a lawyer to make it one of your “requests” in the divorce proceedings, whether you are the plaintiff who originally filed the claim or whether you are simply responding to a claim from your ex.

If you do include this claim, be sure to check and see if, in your state, you are required to fill out a “name change request form,” which you can get from the clerk of court. If you are required to fill out this form, do so fully and accurately to avoid issues and delays in having the request processed.

If all goes according to plan, and your divorce is finalized, your name change should go through at the same time as well, avoiding you a lot of hassle and drama in the future. You may still have to clarify the name change with other entities as you go along, but it is definitely nice to be able to get the name changed squared away at the same time as the divorce is finalized.

Go The Social Security Route 

​image by : ​geralt​​​

If it’s too late for you to learn how to change your name in time for the divorce paperwork or if you’ve already been divorced, don’t worry. You do have other options for changing your name.

One such option, for example, is to choose to change your name via your social security card.

If you choose to go this route, then you will want to go to the official Social Security Administration website  and download the “Application for a Social Security Card” form.

In order to properly fill out the form and thus ensure that your name change is successful, you will need to have a copy of your divorcee decree and an approved name change petition form. You will also need proof of your old last name, such as a birth certificate or a certified copy of your birth certificate. It is all right if these documents are expired, as long as they were officially issued.

Once you have all of the required documentation and have properly filled out your form, you simply want to send it in. You will then wait for approval and, if all goes well, you can receive your new last name and your new social security card in as little as one to two weeks.

If you are not someone who likes to handle matters online, don’t worry! You can look in the phone book or do a quick Google search to find your local Social Security office, which will allow you to handle the name change request in person.

Do It Via Your Driver’s License

Image by : Dom J

Another option for how to change your last name after a divorce proceeding is to do it via your driver’s license. You can do this at any time, or you can simply wait until your driver’s license is up for renewal and then do it then. It’s all a matter of preference.

If you choose to change your name in this way, you will need to head to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Make sure you bring your divorce decree.

You will have to fill out a form and provide a copy of your old license in order to receive a license with your new last name. There may also be a small fee involved, depending on where you live.

In some states, you may even be able to handle the entire process online and via mail, saving you some time, so do check on the rules and regulations that exist in your state.

Simply File A Petition At The Courthouse

Image by : Pixabay

If you have already been divorced, and you neglected to change your name during the proceedings, don’t worry. You can still do it via your local courthouse.

In most states, you simply go down to the courthouse, request a petition to change your name, and then fill it out and submit it. Some states will even allow you to handle this simple process online.

This is probably the simplest and most straightforward way to change your name back to your original name and to have it be applied to most of your legal documents, though you still need to check regularly to make sure all changes have gone through as required.

Just Let A Lawyer Handle It All For You

Image by : rawpixel.com

If you find that these options, as simple as they may be, are too much work and hassle for you, don’t worry. You can always simply hire a lawyer to handle the name change process for you.

In fact, many of them can just meet you once, with all the required documentation, and then just take care of the whole process for you.

Your divorce attorney, if you had one, is a great resource for this, but really, it’s so simple that any attorney should be able to handle it for you.

Some Thoughts On Names And Name Changes

Image by : www.forbes.com

While it may be tradition, especially if you are a woman, to change your last name to your spouse’s name when you get married, think long and hard about this decision.

As you can see, a lot of steps are involved in changing your name. And, though the process may be simple, it’s still a hassle. It gets even more complicated if you have children whose names need to be changed.

Plus, for the rest of your life, when forms require you to list your “previous names” or “aliases,” you are going to have to list your old last name, which may mean remembering painful things.

Typically, it is in your best interest, no matter how secure you are in an impending marriage, to keep your own last name. If something does go wrong, it can save you a lot of grief in the future. Of course, however, that is ultimately a decision that only you can make.

Also remember that, if you do change your name, whether it’s back to your maiden name or to something else entirely, it is a decision you will want to think carefully about, especially if you have children with the last name of your spouse.

It’s Nice To Have The Option

No matter what you decide about taking names and name changes, it’s always nice to have a choice. And you do definitely have a choice in either case. So, just think carefully about your decisions regarding your name so that you don’t have regrets in the future.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This