When you get married and take the name of your spouse, it is sometimes not as permanent as you thought it would be.
Changing back to your maiden name after divorce is not as simple as willing it to be true; there is an actual process that you will have to go through.
3 ways of changing back to your maiden name after divorce.
Requesting a name change during divorce proceedings
Since it is common for those who are no longer married to revert back to their maiden names, it is not uncommon for this to be requested as part of the divorce judgment. When you are completing your petition, make it clear that you are no longer interested in using your married name and you would like to be allowed to change it back to what it was.
When you are given the opportunity to speak during the divorce hearing, be open about the fact that you want to reclaim your old name as part of the divorce. You may be asked whether your intentions are reasonable or if the name you’re asking to have restored is exactly a name you legally had before marriage. If there are no issues, the judge can order this without you having to attend any additional hearings.
Keep in mind that you will have to get a certified copy of the decree from the clerk’s office and use this anywhere you need your name to be changed, including the Social Security Administration office and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. If you are a passport holder, you will need to get a new one of these as well.
Lastly, you should let your employer, your bank and the Internal Revenue Service know that you will be making these changes so there are no issues when it comes to payroll, finances and taxes.
Making amendments to your divorce decree
When you receive a copy of your written divorce decree, make sure that a name change wasn’t already written in. You do not want to make an amendment request when concessions have already been made for this. It is possible in many states to add this to the decree by default and it is often easy to overlook this when you are looking over the paperwork.
If you do not see that your maiden name was expressly restored, you need to file an application to have this done. This will save time and trouble since you will not usually have to attend an additional hearing for this purpose.
In the event that your divorce has been finalized, you can file a motion to have your former name restored. The application for this name change will have the same case number as you divorce since it is considered an addition to the original case and not a separate case in itself. A copy of your divorce decree should be attached to the motion when filing so it is clear that the dissolution of the marriage has been finalized.
Depending on where you live, you may or may not be asked to attend a hearing. If you are, questions may be asked about why you want to return to your maiden name. If the judge is satisfied with your response, they will sign the order and allow the change. This will need to be certified and submitted to all of the places mentioned above so there are no issues moving forward.
Keep in mind that having new documents issued, like ID cards and passports will require fees to be paid. You are not exempt because your name is not the same any longer. There will be some instances, like in the case of a Social Security card, where you will not be asked to pay anything.
Filing a Petition for A Name Change
The third way to change your name would be to fill out a government-issued petition for the change. You can download these forms from the Internet for free. All the documents must be filled out completely and correctly and signed in all the right places before it is submitted and filed with the correct local court.
This type of way to change out of your married name can be done whether you have a final divorce or not. Some people do this even while still happily married or separated but not divorced.
You will have to pay a filing fee the day you file the petition. Since the amount varies by location, you should search the Web or make a phone call ahead of time to ensure you bring the correct amount.
There are some places that require you to place a notice in the paper letting the public know that you are requesting a name change. This will give anyone who finds this objectionable the opportunity to inform the court about any reasons your name change should not be allowed.
You will have to attend a hearing and appear before a magistrate or judge. They will ask about your reasons for the change and use your answer and other evidence to decide whether this is permissible. If it is, they will sign the form allowing the change. It is your responsibility to head to the court clerk and get a certified copy since you will need to submit this to government agencies or organizations who should be aware of this change.
Keep in mind that things may be a bit delayed if you have a criminal record, especially if the crime was committed while you were married. You may have to attend a hearing and declare that avoiding legal ramifications has no bearing on the reason you want to revert back to the name you had prior to your union.
Once you take on another name, changing it back is not as simple as telling your friends and randomly putting your maiden name on all future forms. This has to be done legally so you do not encounter any trouble. This may seem like a lot of steps to go through, but they are necessary if you want to take back your maiden name.
Having launched EZNameChange.com in 2012, Eric’s current passion is helping people obtain Court Ordered personal Name Change through Superior Court Petition in all 58 California Counties. He’s helped parents change their 4 days old’s name and a 95-year-old change hers…and everything in between. He is a Certified Mediator, with the Los Angeles County Bar Association. His specialties are California Legal Name Changes for Adults, Children, and Families. www.eznamechange.com