Changing your status to “single” on Facebook is a snap. But in real life, you can’t simply click “divorced.” In Georgia, those who want to restore their name upon divorce must take additional action. A child’s name, however, cannot be changed through divorce. Don’t worry. If you forget to change your name during your divorce, you can do it anytime in Georgia.
Restoring Your Previous Name
Georgia allows a couple, upon marriage, to choose their surnames. Each spouse can keep his or her own name, take the other's surname or keep a combination of both. It naturally follows that both spouses can restore their previous name upon divorce. The most efficient way to accomplish this is within the divorce petition. Since a name change is part of the divorce, there is no additional cost.
Name Change Upon Remarriage
A divorced person, upon remarriage in Georgia, can adopt her maiden name, take her new spouse’s surname, or keep the name used during a previous marriage. For instance, Betty Smith Jones, who is divorced but planning to remarry, can keep her married name Jones if she chooses. She also has the options of taking her new spouse’s surname, combining her new spouse’s surname with Jones or reverting to her maiden name of Smith.
Changing a Child's Name
Georgia law does not allow a child’s name to be changed as part of a divorce proceeding. It must be done in Superior Court by filing a Petition to Change Name of Minor Child and both parents must consent. The only exceptions to the requirement of mutual consent are if one parent is deceased, abandoned the child or has not supported the child for five years. Once consent is complete, you must place notice of the name change petition in a local newspaper. If both parents live in Georgia, there is a waiting period of 30 days. If a parent lives outside Georgia, the waiting period doubles.
Going to Court for a Child
Take all legal papers with you, including your petition, proof of consent, affidavit from newspaper confirming publication of notice, and a final order for name change. The judge will usually handle your case in chambers, where you will be placed under oath. The judge will ask your reasons for requesting the name change. If approved, the judge will sign the final order. Once you have a certified copy of the final order, you can amend the child’s name on his or her birth certificate.
Tell the Bureaucrats
It is critical after marriage or divorce to inform the Driver Services Department and Social Security Administration of your new name. Georgia requires that the name on your Social Security card match the name on your driver’s license. If not, the state can cancel your driver’s license.
If you forget to change your name during a divorce, you can change it at any time by filing a petition for a name change. The steps involved are similar to those required for changing the name of a minor.