If you are getting divorced or have been divorced and you no longer want to use your ex-spouse’s last name, there are a few ways you can affect a name change after divorce.
As with everything related to divorce, state laws vary on this subject, but below is some general information on how to change your name after divorce.
Within the Divorce Decree
If your divorce is not yet final, one of the easiest ways to get your maiden name back is to ask the presiding judge of your divorce to restore your former name on the divorce decree.
The judge will then include the order to change your name in the decree and you can immediately go back to using your old name without further court intervention.
Amend the Divorce Decree
If your divorce is already final, some states allow you to ask the court to change the decree to include the language that changes your last name.
If your name has been changed in a divorce decree, original or modified, be sure to keep a copy of the order as proof of the name change.
Submit a Petition to Change the Surname
In some states, a legal name change after divorce can be done by filing a name change petition, as well as anyone wishing to change their name for other reasons.
However, be aware that this may be unnecessary paperwork, so make sure your state requires it before taking this route.
Simply Using Your Former Name
Some states do not require any documents when changing your name after divorce. Instead, they allow you to simply go back to using your old name.
In these jurisdictions, provided that you use your previous name consistently, it is not necessary to present anything else to the state.
However, as with all name change situations, it is necessary to make sure to update all your identification and personal records, including the following:
- Social Security Card
- Driver’s license
- Bank and other financial accounts
- Credit cards
- Insurance policies
- Utility bills
- Phone/cable bills
- Student loans
- School/work, including payroll and retirement plans
- Voter registration
- State tax authority (the IRS is automatically notified through SSA)
Also, be sure to keep the test of the previous name, as a birth certificate or old passport if you need it.
Change Your Name Online
You can also change your name after divorce via online forms if your state requires you to petition the court. If so, simply download and print the forms, fill them out, file them with your local court, and follow the rest of your state’s procedure for name changes.
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