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How to change your name after divorce

Changing your name after a divorce is simple, but you'll need to file a name change request with the court.

If you’re thinking about changing your name after divorce, you’re not alone. It’s a common enough request that there are several ways you can do it. And while the process may vary by state, it’s usually quite simple. Here’s some of the main methods for changing your name:

Include your name change in the divorce decree

This is the easiest option because you can do this with all the other steps in your divorce.

All you need to do is include the request as part of your divorce filing, or your answer to your spouse’s filing. If you decide on a name change partway through the divorce process, you may be able to file an amended petition including the name change.

The judge will include the change in your final divorce agreement. However, at your final hearing, you may have to verbally confirm the change and explain your reasons. Some states do this to stop people from changing their names for fraudulent purposes.

Even if you’re not sure that you’ll change your name, you may still want to see if you can include the option in your divorce decree. This can save you from having to go back to court later.

Get your divorce decree amended

In some states, you can ask the court to amend your divorce decree to include the name change authorization.

There are usually specific forms for changing back to your maiden name after divorce. You might also need to provide the court with additional documents, like copies of your divorce decree or your original birth certificate.

Simply file a name change request

Most states let any adult legally change their name for almost any reason. You’ll generally just have to swear you’re not doing it for a fraudulent reason, like hiding from a legal responsibility.

However, some states may require you to have a background check and be fingerprinted.

Notifying others of your new name

Once your name change is legal, it’s time to let government agencies and other businesses know about it. Make sure you have certified copies of your divorce decree or other court order to show as proof.

You may want to start with the Social Security office and the Department of Motor Vehicles. This will give you the proof that many other businesses (like banks and employers) will want to make the change. Your name and social security number will match, and you’ll have a state ID with your new name.

If necessary, you can sign documents using both names until the change is complete. Sign your new name, and then put “AKA (old name).”

Should you change your name after divorce?

There’s no rule saying you have to change your name. Many men and women never do, and some do so many years after their divorce.

If you’re not sure if you want to change your name after your divorce, answering some of these questions may help you decide:

  • Which name are you more comfortable with?
  • If you have children, do you want to have the same name as them?
  • Do you have a good career reputation under your married name?
  • Did you build a professional reputation under your maiden name before you quit to have kids?

Lastly, while changing your name is usually simple, divorce laws themselves can be confusing. If you have any questions about the process during or after your divorce, talk to a divorce lawyer to be sure you’re following your state’s laws.

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