How to Change Back to Your Maiden Name After a Divorce

By Beverly Bird

If you took your husband’s surname when you were married, carrying it around with you for the rest of your life after your divorce can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, taking your maiden name back is usually a very simple matter, as long as you do it at the outset of your divorce. If you don’t decide you want your old name back until after your divorce, you can still make the change, but it usually requires another legal proceeding.

If you took your husband’s surname when you were married, carrying it around with you for the rest of your life after your divorce can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, taking your maiden name back is usually a very simple matter, as long as you do it at the outset of your divorce. If you don’t decide you want your old name back until after your divorce, you can still make the change, but it usually requires another legal proceeding.

Step 1

Include your name-change request in your petition or complaint for divorce. If you’re retained an attorney to handle your divorce for you, advise him that you want your maiden name back before he drafts your divorce petition so he can include this. If you’re representing yourself, many state courts have pre-printed divorce petitions that you can fill out and file. These usually include a box you can check, indicating that you would like to resume your maiden name.

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Step 2

File an amended divorce petition with the court if you decide to change your name after you file your initial petition. You can usually file the same document you did the first time, but mark the top of the document with the word ‘amended” and check the appropriate box the second time you file.

Step 3

Appear in court for your final divorce hearing and reiterate to the judge that you want to resume use of your maiden name, if your state requires this. Some jurisdictions require that a judge orally question you about your reasons for wanting your name back, to make sure you’re not doing it for fraudulent purposes. Check with your attorney or the court clerk to find out if this is necessary in your state.

Step 4

File a motion or petition with the court if you don’t decide to change your name until after your divorce is final. In some states, such as New Jersey, you can do this as part of your divorce action, even though your divorce is final, by filing a post-judgment motion. Other states, such as Massachusetts, require you to file a new petition or complaint in family court. This will also usually require an appearance in court so you can testify regarding your reasons. You might have to provide other documents if you make the request after your divorce is final, such as your original birth certificate, your marriage license and your divorce decree.

Step 5

Begin the process of notifying government entities and your creditors that you’ve resumed your maiden name. Providing them with a copy of your divorce decree or name-change order is usually sufficient. Start with Social Security, because some agencies won’t change your name until it matches up with the name associated with your Social Security number.

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What Form Do You Need to Change Your Name When You Get a Divorce?

References

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Does the State of Florida Allow You to Take Back Your Maiden Name in a Divorce Decree?

In Florida, you can have your maiden name restored in a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, which is what a divorce decree is called in the state. You must ask the judge to include the request in the document. Once the judge grants your request, you will need to inform other institutions about the change.

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Can a Divorced Woman Keep Her Husband's Last Name?

After a divorce, a woman is free to keep her husband's last name, revert back to her maiden name or choose an entirely new name of her liking. Although name changes are controlled by state law, most states allow individuals to change their name with relative ease. Therefore, after divorce or even during marriage, a woman is free to take any name she chooses.

Doing the right thing has never been easier.

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