The Law for Resuming Your Maiden Name in Ohio

By Heather Frances J.D.

In Ohio, you do not have to change your name when you marry, but if you do change it, the married name becomes your legal name. Ohio law allows you to change your name back at the time of your divorce or by using Ohio’s standard name change process, which includes formally changing your name in court or simply assuming a new name.

Name Change at Divorce

The simplest way to change your married name back to your maiden name is to include the name change with your divorce petition. The court then orders the legal name change as part of your divorce decree. Under Ohio law, the divorce court must grant your request to legally change back to your maiden name -- or any other name you used before marriage -- if you request the change at the time of your divorce.

Assuming a Name

If you do not change your name at the time of your divorce, you can change it later by simply assuming your chosen new name and using it. This name change must be done for honest purposes, not for fraudulent reasons like avoiding creditors or escaping prosecution. Though this type of name change is legal in Ohio, it can be difficult from a practical standpoint because many organizations, such as banks and employers, require a court order as proof of a name change.

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Initiating a Formal Name Change

You can obtain a court order by completing the formal name change process in your local probate court. To initiate this process, you must fill out an application and pay a filing fee. The application lists your current name and the new name you want to have, along with the reasons for the change. You can change your name to something other than your maiden name if you wish. You must sign the application stating that you are not changing your name for an improper purpose, including avoiding law enforcement, creating confusion about your identity or avoiding creditors. You must also identify whether you were convicted as a sex offender.

Formal Name Change Process

You must publish notice of your proposed name change in an approved newspaper at least 30 days before your court hearing and provide proof of publication to the court before it will approve your application. The court will set a hearing date. At the hearing, you must testify about your reasons for changing your name. If there are no problems with your application, the court will enter a judgment changing your name. This formal judgment serves as official proof of your name change.

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