In western society, either party can take the other's last name when they marry, take a new name or hyphenate their names. Yet it is most common for women to take the last name of their husband. When marriage ends in divorce, many women wonder if they should change their last name back to their maiden name or not.
Issues to Consider When Considering a Post-Divorce Name Change:
- If you have children, they may be concerned if you change your name so that it is different than theirs. It's an identifying label in their minds that means you belong together - you are a family group. In fact, experts have indicated that when one parent changes their last name due to divorce, it does increase the confusion on the part of the children.
- If you took your ex's last name, and the marriage ended badly, the name could carry negative significance that you no longer want tied to you, your work, your life, etc.
- A name change might not be best move if your career depends on professional consistency.
- Changing your name post-divorce can be a big part of a "fresh start" that many need at that point.
- Changing your name will not enable you to dodge any debt associated with your married name - so don't bother if this is your reason for doing so. The same applies for criminal prosecution. The court will actually determine that you have a good faith reason for changing your name back in order to avoid doing so for either of these reasons.
- The name change can be used as leverage during divorce negotiations in situations where one spouse feels very strongly one way or the other about it. Be aware that this could be an issue or a potential tool for your case.
- If you don't change your name back post-divorce and you remarry, make sure that you sign the marriage license application with your married name (from the previous marriage). If you don't, and use your maiden name instead, you won't be able to use the license to change your name to your new husband's last name.
If you are going to change your name due to divorce, don't wait until you are already divorced. Always request that your divorce attorney include a name change order that restores your maiden name within the divorce decree. Women who do not have the name change order within the decree will have to petition the court separately for a legal name change order, which can be a costly and annoying process.