How to Use My Maiden Name Even Though I Legally Changed It to My Married Name

By Heather Frances J.D.

Whether you can use your maiden name when it is no longer your legal name depends on how you want to use it. In many areas of life, there is no requirement to use your legal name. For example, you could use virtually any name on social media sites without anyone even knowing it isn’t your legal name. However, this informal use will not work for every situation since most banks and government agencies require you to use your legal name. For these uses, you must legally change your name.

Whether you can use your maiden name when it is no longer your legal name depends on how you want to use it. In many areas of life, there is no requirement to use your legal name. For example, you could use virtually any name on social media sites without anyone even knowing it isn’t your legal name. However, this informal use will not work for every situation since most banks and government agencies require you to use your legal name. For these uses, you must legally change your name.

Legal Name Change While Married

Each state has some method of formal legal name change such as a court petition, but the process varies greatly from state to state. Some states provide name change forms and instructions to simplify the process for the applicant. Each state also has its own requirements for filing fees and publication of notices of your new name so you should be sure to follow the process for your state.

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Legal Name Change Upon Divorce

If you are getting divorced, your name can also be formally changed as part of the divorce action. Again, this process may vary by state law, so you should consult your divorce attorney or divorce forms for guidance on how to change your name as part of the divorce. In some states, it may be as simple as noting your name change request in your divorce complaint so the judge will include it in your divorce decree.

Usage Method of Name Change

Some states, such as California, allow a person to change her name merely by beginning to use a new name, thereby avoiding the formal process of name change. This process is called the usage method or common law method of name change. Even though a state may allow this method of name change, most government agencies still require a court order as proof of the name change, so this may not be the best option for you, even if you live in a state that allows it.

Notification

Once you have changed your name back to your maiden name, you will need to notify all of the agencies and businesses that use your married name. This may be the same set of agencies and businesses you notified when you changed your maiden name to your married name. For example, you should notify your state’s department of motor vehicles, the Social Security office and your banks. Most agencies will require proof of the name change, such as a court order or divorce decree specifying your name is to be changed.

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How to Change Your Last Name Without the Court

References

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Resuming Use of Maiden Name Without Divorce

A woman often resumes the use of her maiden name after a divorce. However, you may choose to reacquire your maiden name while still married. For example, if you were to inherit a business in your family surname or start a career separate and distinct from your husband’s, you might want to reacquire your former name. Alternatively, you may have become widowed after a brief marriage and would prefer to resume the name you acquired at birth. The process for resuming your maiden name varies by state.

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.

How to Change Back to Your Maiden Name After a Divorce

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.

Doing the right thing has never been easier.

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