Resuming Use of Maiden Name Without Divorce

By Marie Murdock

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.

Still Married

If you are still married and residing with your husband, you can change your name with a name change decree. The name change process begins with filing a petition for name change with the appropriate court in your state. In many states, name changes are within the jurisdiction of the probate court. In some states, however, petitions are filed in the circuit or superior courts. Some state laws require a court hearing and public notice of your petition in a local newspaper. Other states may award the name change decree based strictly on the facts contained in the petition, background checks, affidavit or other required documentation. State law may prohibit your request if you have felony charges pending or are changing your name in an attempt to avoid creditors or for other fraudulent purposes.

After Husband’s Death

If you wish to reacquire your maiden name after the death of your husband, many states require you to follow the typical name change procedure. In North Carolina, however, state statute provides for a widow to resume her maiden name by simply filing an application with the court stating the full name of her deceased spouse and attaching a copy of his death certificate.

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Usage

Some states allow name change by usage. With this method, you would begin using a desired name and continuously identify yourself by that name so that, in time, you become known to all those surrounding you and those with whom you transact business by your new name. As identity theft increases, this name change method has become more difficult to achieve as government and other business entities require identification to complete certain transactions. If you are recently married and have not yet formally changed your legal records, such as identification, from your maiden name, you should have little problem resuming its use without further documentation.

Documenting Change

Provide certified copies of the court decree or document changing your name to the Social Security Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles, voting registrar, financial institutions and others with whom you transact business. Be aware, however, that these entities may refuse to change your name in their records if you are unable to provide documentary proof as to your current identity, as would be the case with the usage method of name change.

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Divorce Laws in Louisiana Regarding Name Changes
 

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Legal Name Change Options

There are a number of reasons people change their name, including unifying a family, getting married or starting fresh with a new self image. It is illegal to change your name to avoid debt collectors or evade arrest, and many states have laws prohibiting sex offenders and other convicted felons from changing their names. The reason for your name change can affect the process of changing your name, and once your name is legally changed, you must change your name on financial documents to avoid confusion and maintain access to your money and bills.

How to Legally Change Your Name in North Carolina

In many states, you do not need to petition a court to change your name due to marriage, divorce or adoption -- you may simply use your marriage certificate, divorce decree or adoption decree to change your name on your identity documents. In North Carolina, however, you must file a petition with a state court to change your name. Nevertheless, the process is fairly straightforward. North Carolina places special restrictions on petitioners who wish to resume a former name.

Family Law on Name Change in Illinois

To file for a change of name in Illinois, you must submit a petition to the circuit court in your county and make an appearance at a court hearing. Illinois law also requires public notice of the petition before the hearing can take place. There are different procedures for changing the name of a minor child or changing your own name after a marriage, civil union or divorce.

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