If you want to take back your maiden name – or even resume use of another name – changing your name as part of your divorce is usually the easiest way. Your proceedings streamline the process, and depending on the laws of your state, you generally don't need to use any particular form. If you decide to do it after your divorce is final, the process may become a bit more complicated.
Name Changes as Part of Your Divorce
If you know going in to a divorce that you want to assume a name you've used before, you can include the request in your divorce petition or complaint in most states. If your spouse files for divorce first, some states, such as North Carolina, allow you to ask for a name change in your responsive pleadings. Others, such as Arizona, require that you file a motion with the court if you're not the spouse who initiated the divorce. The motion is part of your divorce case, however, not a separate proceeding.
Name Changes After Divorce
If you don't change your name as part of your divorce, you'll have to follow your state's rules for a regular name change proceeding outside of family court. The exact rules for a post-divorce name change can vary from state to state, but additional fees are usually involved, and it may require state-specific forms. Courthouse staff can usually tell you what they are, or you can ask an attorney about the exact procedure in your state.