If you feel you need to return to your maiden name to get a fresh start, a divorce name change will be needed. The laws regarding name changes after divorce vary by state. The first thing you will need to do is determine what is required by the law where you live. Once you do this, you need to learn the options available to you to complete the name change after divorce. Here are a few options that might be available where you live.
- A last name change form may be incorporated into the divorce decree. The judge will inquire as to which name you would like to use and then include this as part of the paperwork. Once the divorce has been granted and the final decree signed, certified copies must be obtained from the clerk of the court. Each certified copy has a seal on it to prove its authenticity. If the divorce has already been finalized, contact the clerk of the court where you obtained your divorce decree to request a modification of this decree.
- Another option when requesting a name change is to file a petition with the court. File this last name change form with your local court and pay the necessary fees. Most states will require that you affirm this name change is not being done for wrongful purposes or in an effort to hide from legal responsibilities. In certain states, other documentation must also be provided. This may include, but not be limited to, fingerprints and a criminal background check. In Hawaii, if the name change is not included in the divorce decree, the name change request must be filed with the office of the lieutenant governor.
Be aware that your name change after a divorce is not actually complete until you inform all government agencies of this name change. A new social security card must be issued, along with a new driver's license and passport. The IRS must be alerted to this change, as well as your employer.
As each case is unique, legal assistance will be beneficial to ensure all steps are completed. No two cases are alike and this is not an area where you want to make a mistake. Contact a family law attorney if you have any questions or concerns. He or she can help you complete your request in a timely manner