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Family law: Changing your name after divorce, 9 things you need to know

After divorce, it’s natural for you to want to get back to being an individual. Apart from separating your assets, part of that process is getting back to your birth name and abandoning your ex-spouse’s name.

Women are not the only ones who can change their names after a divorce. Men who chose to use hyphenated names during their marriage or take up the last name of their spouses can also reclaim their former names after a divorce. 

Here are a few things you should know about legally changing your name after a divorce;

  1. It is easier to change your name back to the one you used before your marriage than trying to use an entirely new name, especially if you still have a document with a record of your previous name, such as a passport. 

If you choose to use a new name after your divorce, you will have to go through a tiresome process and a lot of paperwork.

  1. You will not be allowed to change your name by the courts after your divorce until they make sure you are not doing it to escape criminal charges or creditors.

However, a past criminal conviction cannot prevent you from changing back to your former name after your divorce.

  1. Check with your state regulation to determine what they require you to do when it comes to changing your name after a divorce. Some states do not require any applications. 

You are allowed to simply start using your former name after the dissolution of your marriage, but use it consistently once you do so. You only need to update all your documents such as passport, social security card, utility bills, and credit cards, among other documents with the name you wish to use.

  1. There is a section in your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage that you should fill if you want to go back to your maiden name. 

It’s easy to change your name if you ask the judge in your divorce case to include your name change in your divorce decree. Otherwise, you may have to go to the courts and petition for a name change order afterward, which can be troublesome and expensive.

  1. If you decide to change your name after your divorce, you will need to fill out an ‘Application for a Change of Name for an Adult’ in your state court website and file the application with the courts along with a fee. 

To do that, you need to provide the courts with case numbers of any previous or pending criminal convictions where necessary, along with your Social Security Number, and photo ID.

  1. You will need proof of name change in your Decree of Dissolution to change your name in other documents such as your bank documents, Social Security Administration, and Driver’s license.
  2. When it comes to your other documents, change the name in your Driver’s license with the Department of Motor Vehicles first. You can then use your Driver’s license to change the name in other documents. 

Just ensure you prioritize the changing of the names with the Social security administration and contact them about it as soon as you can. You can check the SSA website for more information about this.

  1. Most courts insist children keep their father’s last name as long as he is meeting his obligations as a parent after a dissolution of marriage. However, if you show the courts it’s in their best interest, you can change your children’s name to your maiden name.
  2. Even if you change your child’s name after a divorce, it does not interfere with the father’s responsibilities when it comes to paying child support, visitation rights, inheritance, among other rights. A child’s rights are only affected after a name change if he or she is adopted or the parents change their custody agreement.

Do you need to change your name?

Although changing your name after divorce may not cost a lot of money, you may have to go through a lot of paperwork and time to complete the process. That’s not easy to do while separating from your partner and working on making a new life for you and your family. It’s therefore advisable that you hire an experienced divorce attorney who knows how to go about changing names to help you.

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