Steps To Changing Your Name After Divorce

A divorce is a very personal thing, and it often prompts both parties to reconsider who they are and who they want to be in life. It is at this point that some decide to reclaim their former name. And while the mention of “maiden name” is often connected to women, in many instances it’s a man that used a hyphenated combination of last names when they got married.

Regardless of what the situation is, you may be curious about changing your surname in order to start things clean. If this is the case, we’ve got the steps for you below. However, before we get into the steps, let’s discuss a few of the things you’ll have to happen when you change your surname. This should give you a clear picture of what you’re getting into.

Changing your surname is going to be the cause for quite a lot of confusion

This is most notable in your professional life. It does apply in various industries and situations, but nowhere is it more obvious than when you’re working with clients or patients. Chances are they’re used to refer to you by your married name, and it might be confusing if you change that.

Steps To Changing Your Name After Divorce from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

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It’s even trickier if you’re an actor, or a professional speaker, or anyone who has a large network. Such people usually have their last name as part of their brand, and in this case, changing it may not be the best idea.

You will be getting a clean break when you change your name

This is one of the biggest advantages when you change your name after a divorce. You’re establishing a break with your former spouse, and completely separating yourself from things you had together. When you got married, taking his (or her) name is a signal that you’re both a single unit. This is the opposite, and it symbolizes that you don’t want to be connected to them anymore, not legally, not financially, and not emotionally. It’s also a symbol of independence, and it establishes the fact that the marriage is completely over.

So, how do you change your name during the divorce?

When you’re divorcing, the legal term is “dissolution of marriage”. Filing for it is done with a form known as “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage”, and it actually contains a section that allows the petitioner to ask the judge about restoring their former name.

If, however, you are the person that’s responding to such a petition, the court’s website is a great place to find all the documents that you need to file your response. Among those documents, you will find a “Request to Restore Maiden Name”, which indicates that you’d like to go back to your maiden name after the divorce is finalized.

Steps To Changing Your Name After Divorce from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

Copyright: Pexels | CC0 Public Domain

If you’re using the services of a lawyer, you will need to tell them that you’d like your former name restored. At the end of the process, you will have a final Decree of Dissolution (or a Separation, but the two are not the same) which should include a section that orders your request for a name change. This Decree is the document you will be using when you change your name with the SSA, as well as the local DMV and any other institutions such as schools or banks that may have you listed under your married name.

Can you change it after the divorce?

Of course, this is another possibility. If your divorce is already finalized, but you decided you want to change your surname after the fact, it’s actually pretty simple. You don’t even need a lawyer, as this only requires an additional court order.

You will need an “Application for Change of Name for an Adult”, which you can find on your court’s website. A fee is required, and you’ll need to give the court your SSN, a photo ID, as well as the history and case numbers of any previous, or pending criminal convictions if you have any. While this may sound weird, criminal record info is required in order to prevent people from changing their surname for either fraudulent or criminal purposes. Note that even a past criminal conviction is usually no issue if you’re a divorcing spouse looking to restore their maiden name.

Once your name change is signed, you’ll want to change it with SSA

It doesn’t matter if your surname was changed during the divorce, or with a name change order. Contacting the Social Security Administration should be done as quickly as possible, and you’ll want to change your name with the federal government. Whether you contact the SSA by mail, or you go there in person, make sure you take care of this as quickly as possible in order to finalize your surname change. 

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