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After Your Divorce: Name Changes


It is common for one spouse to take the last name of the other when they get married. It is usually this last name that is also passed on to the couple's children. Following a divorce, one of things a spouse will do to reclaim their new life is to change their name back to what it was before the marriage. Changing a name does not require the permission of the former spouse and there are a few options available to achieve this goal.

How can I restore a former name?

Many people take the last name of a spouse in order to unify the family. It identifies that the spouses are married and it unites the children with the parents. When a couple is no longer together, keeping that last name can serve as a reminder of a broken relationship, so many ex-spouses choose to restore their old name.

There are a few ways to change a last name following a divorce:

  • Include the name change in the wording of the divorce decree in order to use this document to change the name on important documents, such as a social security card.
  • Petition the court to include name-changing language in a divorce decree that has already been filed with the court as long as it is within the statute of limitations.
  • File an application for the restoration of a former name after a divorce order has been entered into public record without modifying the divorce decree language.
  • Resume the use of the previous name without the influence of a court order as long as ownership over this name can be proven with a birth certificate.

Changing a name after a divorce can be cathartic. This move can be exactly what is needed to get a head start on your new life. Whether it is done during the divorce, as part of the decree, or slightly after the fact, restoring an old name is a great boost for a fresh start.