You may decide at some point to revert to your maiden name due to divorce, the death of your husband or other personal reasons, such as beginning a business venture in your prior name. Depending on your circumstances, there are a couple of ways to accomplish the change through the courts so that it becomes legally documented by decree.
Add, or have your attorney add, a request to resume your maiden name in your complaint for divorce if this is your reason for changing and your state law allows this method of change. State your full name after the change in your request.
Include, or have your attorney include, a statement in the proposed decree to be signed by the judge in an uncontested divorce stating that you are “…hereby returned to her maiden name of…” and include the name, provided your state authorizes this method of change. If the divorce is contested, make sure your attorney reviews any proposed decree prepared by the opposing attorney for inclusion of the request.
Obtain the signed divorce decree from your attorney or the courts. Use the signed and sealed decree to prove your name change when you subsequently change your name with the Social Security Administration, your bank and so on.
Name Change Decree
Prepare and sign a petition for name change or contact an attorney for assistance if you are uncomfortable with the process. Name-change forms are available on many state websites and may vary from state to state. Generally, you must state your old name, your new name and declare in your petition whether you have criminal charges pending against you, whether you are registered sex offender, and that you are not changing your name in an attempt to avoid payment of debts.
Prepare and sign any additional paperwork required by your state, such as a publication notice or a show-cause order. State in your publication notice your old name, your new name and the reasons for your request. The statutory time during which parties may object to the change may vary from state to state,
Prepare a decree for your judge’s signature and attach it to your remaining paperwork. Contact an attorney for assistance in preparing the decree if your state does not provide forms.
File all paperwork with the court and pay any required fees. If all paperwork is in order and there are no objections, the court may grant your petition without a hearing. If a hearing is required, attend the hearing.
Obtain the signed decree. Use the signed and sealed decree to prove your name change when you subsequently change your name with the Social Security Administration, your bank and so on.
Tips & Warnings
Some courts require that you contact the paper directly for publication, while others direct the publication once costs are paid to the court.
References & Resources
- Ohio Legal Services: Family Law, Name Changes
- Maryland Judiciary: Domestic Relations Forms
- Indiana Courts: Court Forms Packet, Verified Petition for Name Change for an Adult
- Maryland Judiciary: Instructions for Change of Name of an Adult
- The People’s Law Library of Maryland: Case Law on Name Change in Maryland
- TexasLawHelp.org: Forms and Information
- DivorceLawFirms.com: Changing Your Last Name After or During Divorce
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