Name Change Issues That Arise Due To Divorce

By Staff Writer

Parties going through, or contemplating a divorce, frequently give thought to the issue of a legal name change. The most common scenario is one whereby a spouse, typically the wife, wishes to revert to the legal use of her maiden name. Another scenario is possible, however, and is usually one whereby the other spouse wishes to force his ex-wife to stop using his surname.

In today’s complex society, it is not always necessary to change your name following a divorce. Laws generally prohibit one party from forcing the other to legally change her name back to the one utilized prior to the marriage. This is partially in recognition of the fact that, even following a divorce, a parent may want to continue to use the name which she shares with the parties’ children. The use of one name helps identify and unify the family unit and helps avoid potential confusion with schools and other non-family members.

Each state provides a legal mechanism to enable a party to change his or her name. It should be noted, that these laws are typically not confined to use by formerly married couples. Rather, anyone can legally change his or her name provided that the facts of their situation are in conformity with the requirements provided by State Law.

While some jurisdictions, have more formal procedures, most allow an expedited mechanism for a name change following divorce. For example, in some states, the mere reference in the Judgment of Divorce that a party is free to resume the use of her maiden name, is enough to enable that party to legally change her name.

It is important to be aware that the mere reference to a party’s right to change her name in a divorce Judgment, does not satisfy the legal requirements which a party must go through in order to change her name. If you would like to change your name, you will still have to go through many of the same procedures as when you first got married and assumed the use of your husband’s surname.

Local and Federal agencies, such as Social Security and the Department of Motor Vehicles, must be notified and their procedures adhered to. You should consult with your attorney to discuss any specific requirements that apply in your particular state. He or she will be able to guide you through the process of legally changing your name.