Although there is no law requiring a name change after marriage, it is a widespread practice in the US. If you have changed your name after marriage, then you can restore your maiden name or change it completely in the event of a divorce.
If you want to return to using your maiden name, then it can be done without much hassle, but if you wish to change to something different, then you may have to go through a legal process.
A name change can be done through the divorce decree or by filing a name change petition.
Let us have a look at both the processes in detail.
1. Name Change Through The Divorce Decree
This is generally considered one of the best and hassle-free methods to change your name after a divorce. In this method, you can request a name change during or after the divorce process or trial.
a. Name change during the divorce process
In most US states, the divorce petition will have a provision asking you if you would like to change your name. If this is not present in the petition or in case you have missed it, the final divorce order has a section wherein you can request a name change. Alternatively, you can also include a name-change proposition in your marital settlement agreement.
The court will look into your case, and ask questions to determine if your intentions are reasonable and if you are going back to the exact legal name you had before getting married. Once the court is satisfied with your answers, it will pass the order along with your divorce decree.
You can then get a certified copy of the decree to change your name on legal and social documents, such as Social Security card, driving license, and passport.
If you are requesting a name change through a divorce decree, then you might need a “request to restore maiden name” or “request for a name change” on your divorce forms. As the laws differ from state to state, it is best to consult a professional lawyer to determine if any additional documents are required.
b. Name change after the divorce process
In case you missed the process or weren’t able to change your name at the time of your divorce, you can make changes to the final divorce decree. As the legal name-change process differs from state to state, it is wise to consult with your state clerk or divorce lawyer. For instance, in California, there is a separate form named FL-395 for this purpose.
In some states, you can restore your former name without much hassle if you have a proof of that original name, such as a birth certificate or an old passport. You can start using your former name and request a name change in your personal records.
- Name change request form, photo identification, and Social Security number in case you decide to change the name later
- Certified divorce decree
- Any additional documents as per your state laws
2. Name Change Through A Petition
Another way to change your name after divorce is to fill in a government-issued petition for a name change. You need to fill in all the information, sign it, and file it in the court. After your petition is passed, some states may require you to publish an official notice in a newspaper to inform the public about your name change.
The documents needed vary from state to state, so it is best to check your state’s website or talk to a professional lawyer.
What Is The Time Limit And Cost For Change Of Name?
There is no time limit to change your name after the divorce. You can proceed with the change along with your divorce decree, or do it after you get the divorce finalized. However, you will need the finalized copy of the divorce decree to change your name in the official documents.
If you opt to change your name during the divorce process, then it may not involve any extra costs. However, if you intend to change your name after the decree is finalized, then you may have to pay a nominal fee. This might vary from state to state; therefore, consult your lawyer or state clerk for details about the fee.
Changing Your Child’s Name After Divorce
During the divorce, you can also request the court to change your child’s last name.
You need to file a name-change petition to change your child’s name. The court would consider this petition if it is in the child’s best interest. It considers various factors, such as:
- Age of the child
- Period of time the father’s last name was used
- If you are the primary custodian of the child
- Strength of the mother–child relationship and the father–child relationship
- Any harmful effects if the name of the child is changed
- Benefits of changing the name
- Any specific need to change the last name (in case the child is being adopted by the stepparent)
The procedure for name change after divorce may vary from state to state, so it is best to look at your state’s website or hire a professional divorce lawyer to take care of the proceedings on your behalf.