How to Change Your Name Back to Your Maiden Name

By Christine Funk, J.D.

How to Change Your Name Back to Your Maiden Name

By Christine Funk, J.D.

There are many reasons to change your last name back to your maiden name. Whether you want to pursue a profession with your maiden name, are in the process of divorcing, or wish to return to your maiden name after the death of your spouse, changing your name legally requires a few simple steps.

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Changing Your Name Outside of Divorce Proceedings

If you want to change your last name and are not in the process of divorcing the spouse whose name you've taken, you can follow the steps associated with a legal name change. Some steps are specific to your state, so read all materials and procedures published by your state or county carefully. Generally speaking, the steps are similar regardless of the jurisdiction.

1. Fill out the requisite forms.

Each state has a petition you must complete to change your name. Many states (or counties within a given state) offer name change forms online. These forms ask for your old name, your new name, whether you want to change your name to avoid paying debts, and whether you have criminal charges pending. Some states have additional requirements or limitations. You also need to fill out the proposed order for the judge's signature in most states.

2. Gather any additional paperwork.

Depending on the state, there might be additional paperwork. For example, you might need to present a legible set of fingerprints. If you have been convicted of a felony, you might have to obtain a copy of your discharge from probation. Review your state's requirements or consult with an attorney to make sure you have all the correct documents.

3. File the paperwork with the court.

You may file your paperwork in your county of residence. Some jurisdictions allow for e-filing. When you file your petition for a name change, you also have to pay a filing fee. The cost varies by state.

4. Comply with notice requirements.

Some states require you to publish your intent to change your name in a local newspaper with general distribution. The time restrictions associated with this publication vary by state.

5. Attend the hearing, if necessary.

If your state requires a hearing, you must attend that hearing. At the hearing, the judge may ask you questions about your intent. They may inquire as to whether you intend to avoid a debt or escape criminal prosecution. Other states grant a name change without a court appearance.

6. Obtain a copy of the order.

After the judge signs the order, obtain several certified copies. The certified copy of the order granting your name change allows you to change your name on other legal documents, such as your Social Security card and your passport.

Changing Your Name During Divorce Proceedings

Changing your name back to your maiden name during your divorce proceedings is a simple process. If you represent yourself in your divorce, you can usually search your state or county's website for a form drafted for this very situation. If you retain counsel, make certain they know about your wish to change your name back to your maiden name.

You should include the request to change your name back to your maiden name both in the complaint filed for divorce and in the proposed divorce decree.

Seeking Help with a Name Change

Many people find the process of changing their name overwhelming. An online service provider or local attorney can provide assistance and guidance.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.