Can a Woman Take Back Her First Husband's Name After Divorcing a Second Husband?

By Marcy Brinkley

Name change laws vary from state to state but, typically, any adult aged 18 or older may ask the court for a name change as long as the purpose is not to defraud creditors or flee from criminal charges. If a woman wants to use her first husband's name after divorcing her second husband, the procedure will depend on whether she has used the name before and whether the divorce has been finalized.

Name Change in Divorce Decree

Typically, state laws allow a woman to include a name change in the final decree of divorce if she wishes, but the choice is limited to surnames she has used in the past. In Texas, for example, a wife divorcing her second husband could choose to resume the use of her maiden surname or that of her first husband. If she did not use her first husband's surname during that marriage, however, she may not adopt that name in the divorce decree.

Modifying the Divorce Decree

If you did not ask for a name change at the time of your divorce, your state may allow you to ask for a modification of the final decree. In California, for example, you may file an Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order to request a name change after your divorce has been finalized and you want to resume using your maiden name or another former name. The form is available on your county's website and at the county clerk's office. However, you may not use this form if you were divorced in another state.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Petition to Change Name

If you have never used your first husband's name, your state may require you to file a petition to change your name and attend a hearing unrelated to the divorce. In Texas, for example, you may download a name change petition from the county website, sign it before a notary, attach a completed fingerprint card, and file the documents at the courthouse. In the petition, you must state your current name, reason for the change and your criminal history. At the hearing, the judge will sign the name change order you present to her unless she finds there is a reason to deny the change.


If you have children from your second marriage who use their father's surname, you cannot change their names to a previous husband's name unless their other parent agrees. You do not need permission from your previous husband to use his name. Changing your name, however, does not absolve you from paying debts accumulated under another name, allow you to change your Social Security number or erase any criminal record you might have under another name. You must make arrangements to change your name on your driver's license, Social Security card, passport, and other official documents.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Create a New Last Name When You Marry


Related articles

California Requirements to Legally Change a Person's Name

People change their names for a variety of reasons, including marriage, divorce, or adoption. Changing your name in the state of California generally requires a petition for name change, and a court order if you are changing the name of a minor. Name changes are filed in the Superior Court of the county in which you reside.

How to Change Your Last Name in Maryland

People seek to change their last names for a variety of reasons. You may have gotten married or divorced, or simply found a new name you like better than your old one. Although Maryland allows you to legally change your last name simply by using it, you will not be able to change your name on your identity documents without either a marriage certificate or a court order, depending on the reason you changed your name.

Legal Name Changes in Texas After a Divorce

If you changed your name when you married, you get to choose whether or not you want to change your name back when you divorce. Though this process is typically completed during the divorce, Texas also allows you to change your name outside the divorce process. Thus, if you don't change your name, but reconsider after your divorce and decide that you do want to change your name, you can follow the court process to change it.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Can a Divorced Woman Keep Her Husband's Last Name?

After a divorce, a woman is free to keep her husband's last name, revert back to her maiden name or choose an entirely ...

Name Changes After Divorce & Remarriage in Georgia

Changing your status to “single” on Facebook is a snap. But in real life, you can’t simply click “divorced.” In ...

Divorce Laws in Louisiana Regarding Name Changes

Although many spouses decide to change their names when getting married, Louisiana does not require anyone to do so. ...

Laws on Name Changes Involving Marriages in Georgia

Traditionally, a woman changed her last name to her husband's name when they married. However, traditions are changing ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED