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

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

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

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

There are two ways to use your maiden name even though you changed it once you got married: by "unofficially" using it or by legally changing it back. Which is best for you depends on your reason.

Woman in collared shirt with short hair holding a pair of glasses to her lip

Unofficial Name Change

If you want to start being called by your maiden name socially, you can just start introducing yourself that way and using it for any unofficial purpose such as in your email signature block, on your social media profiles, and for restaurant reservations. However, you must continue to use your married name on official documents.

You are in good company if you take this unofficial approach. Many celebrities use stage names and countless famous authors throughout history have used pen names. J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, used "Robert Galbraith" for a subsequent book she wrote. Peter Hernandez is known as Bruno Mars for his musical performances.

Legal Name Change

Once you legally change your name, you must use it for all official purposes, such as bank accounts, government records, employment records, and identification cards. Make sure you decide how you would like to be identified before going through any legal process. This will save you a lot of time, money, paperwork, confusion, and all-around hassle.

The legalities vary by state and usually depend on whether you want to switch back due a divorce or just because of personal preference. If you are getting divorced, you can request the change as part of your divorce proceedings, knocking out two birds with one stone. If you are remaining married, you must initiate the change separately in accordance with the laws of your state.

In most states, the legal process is similar. To begin, you typically file a petition with the court in the county where you reside along with a filing fee. You then provide notice of your intent to change your name in some sort of local publication. Then you appear before a judge at a hearing. The hearing is usually more of a formality where you answer a few questions and bring documents. These types of hearings are rarely contentious and unlikely to get denied—unless it's fraudulent or a truly crazy name.

In either case, once the change is approved by the courts, you must notify all agencies, organizations, and companies that have your married name in its records, of the change. Essentially, do all the steps you took when you first changed from your maiden to your married name. For example, you have to go to the social security office, change your driver's license and passport, update tax records, and notify your employer. You also have to pay any associated fees again.

An unofficial name change is a great way to ensure you like going by your maiden name again before investing the time and money into changing it back. It's also a way to ease and familiarize your friends and family with the change while you are waiting for your official name change to process.

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.