Divorce is stressful enough without having to make all the tough decisions involved at the time. If the divorce involves numerous legal issues, your attorney may neglect to mention that you have the option to revert to the use of your previous name via the divorce decree. On the other hand, you may want more time to make the decision to drop a name you've used for many years. While it may be simpler to make the change at the time, you can still change your name even years after the divorce if you decide to.
Prepare or have your attorney prepare a petition for name change. These forms can usually be located at your local county court. State in the petition your existing name as well as your previous maiden name, which you are seeking to take back, and sign the petition in the presence of a notary public or before the court.
Sign an affidavit or other state-required information form citing that your reasons for changing your name do not include attempting to avoid prosecution for a crime, debt collectors or compliance with sex offender laws. If you have a questionable criminal history, courts may deny your petition or at the very least, require further action or documentation on your part.
File your notarized petition, affidavit, publication notice or show cause order, if required, proposed name change decree and all required court information sheets in the court that governs name changes in your state. Pay all filing fees due.Filing fees range in various states from $21 to over $360 as of September 2011. Some courts may collect publication charges at the time of filing to cover the cost of filing the notice of name change in a local paper. Others may require that you personally request publication with the paper, pay publication charges and obtain the affidavit of proof of publication, returning it to the court prior to any scheduled hearing.
Attend any hearing required by the court. If all of your paperwork is in order, and no one files an objection, the hearing may merely be a formality prior to the judge signing the decree changing your name. In some states, if no objection is filed, the judge may sign the decree without a hearing.
Acquire the name change decree signed by the judge. The decree will either be given to you after the hearing, sent to your attorney or mailed to the address you provided to the court in the event you did not use an attorney to file the paperwork.
Contact the Social Security Administration, all utility companies, credit card companies, life insurance companies, banks and other people or businesses with which you have a relationship in order to begin fully using your last name. The list of people or businesses you need to contact may seem exhaustive, but in time, your new name should be used exclusively by those whom you know and with whom you do business.
Tips & Warnings
- Make sure you obtain sufficient certified copies to notify various businesses to change your name in their records.
- As laws vary from state to state, contact an attorney or your local courts for state-specific
References & Resources
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