After a divorce, many women consider changing their name back to their maiden name. Reverting to your birth name or former name can be part of re-establishing your identity after the divorce process.
Taking back your maiden name after divorce is very common. While some may choose to keep their married name for various reasons, most women decide to change their name back after their divorce is finalized.
The process of legally changing your name after a divorce is relatively straightforward in most places. With the right legal name change document like a divorce decree or court order, you can update your name with government agencies and on legal documents.
What Does the Divorce Decree Say About Name Change?
The divorce decree is the final order that legally ends a marriage. It often includes provisions about changing your name back to your maiden name. The document should contain your full name and the name to be restored. If it does, you have the legal right to revert to your maiden name without additional court proceedings.
Name Changes After Divorce
Changing your last name after a divorce is final
Once the divorce is final, you are free to start using your maiden name again socially and begin the process of reverting to your maiden name legally.
In most cases, reverting to a previous name or maiden name after divorce does not happen automatically. You need to take steps to legally change your name back after your divorce is complete.
However, some states do allow a woman’s last name to be restored as part of the final divorce decree. So the name change process may be simplified if it was handled as part of your divorce proceeding.
Taking back your maiden name after divorce
You have a few options for taking your maiden name back after your divorce:
- Request a name change as part of your initial divorce petition. This way, reverting to your maiden name is part of the divorce decree.
- File a name change request after your divorce. You will need a copy of your divorce decree as proof to legally change your name back.
- Simply start using your maiden name informally on a social basis after your divorce. But update it legally later.
No matter what option you choose, you will need some proof of your divorce to complete the name change process.
How long does changing my name back to my maiden name after divorce take?
The process typically takes 2-4 weeks but can vary based on how quickly government agencies and financial institutions update their records. Obtaining a new social security card and driver’s license with your maiden name are usually the quickest changes to make. Updating accounts and memberships may take longer depending on the entity.
The Name Change Process
How to change your name after divorce legally
To legally change your name back to your maiden name after divorce, follow these steps:
- Obtain a certified copy of your divorce decree from the court. This will serve as your proof of divorce and order to change your name back to your maiden name.
- Bring your divorce decree and ID to the Social Security Administration office and fill out a form to update your name with the SSA.
- Once your Social Security card with your new name arrives, use that to update your name on your driver’s license, passport, financial accounts, and anywhere else your legal name is used.
Most women successfully navigate the name change process with just a copy of their divorce decree and minimal paperwork. As long as your divorce decree specifies the name change, it acts as your legal name change document.
Make your name change official with the government
To make your maiden name official legally everywhere, follow these steps:
Change your name with the Social Security Administration
- Bring a certified copy of your divorce decree and ID to your local SSA office.
- Fill out the Social Security card application and request a name change.
- You will get your new social security card with your old maiden name in 1-2 weeks.
Update your name on other IDs and records
Changing your name with the Social Security Administration updates your identity in their records. But you still need to notify other government agencies, financial institutions and personal accounts.
Here is a checklist of places you need to update with your new post-divorce name:
- Driver’s License
- Accounting and taxes
- Bills and utilities
- Vehicle registration
- Insurance policies
- Health records
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Credit cards
- Voter registration
- Mortgage or rental documents
- School/alumni records
- Professional licenses
- Social media profiles
- Email addresses
For each item, you’ll need to fill out name change forms, show proof of your name change (like your divorce decree) and update your new signature everywhere.
It may take a few weeks to months to work through the entire list. Be patient but persistent to ensure all your personal records and accounts reflect your true, post-divorce identity.
What is the Easiest Way to Legally Change Your Name After Divorce?
The easiest way to revert to your maiden name is to request a name change as part of your divorce proceedings. When your divorce decree is finalized, your name can legally change at the same time.
To request a name change through your divorce, simply inform your family lawyer early in the divorce process. Most divorce petitions have a section where you can request a legal name change.
As long as your spouse agrees to the name change, it can be approved and finalized along with your divorce decree. This spares you all the extra steps of filing separate name change paperwork after your divorce.
If you didn’t request a name change during your divorce, don’t worry! You can still legally change your name by filing a:
- Adult Name Change Court Order
- Adult Name Change Application
- Certificate of Name Change
The process varies by state. But it typically just involves filing the name change forms at your local courthouse, publishing a public notice, and attending a court hearing. The average cost is between $100-$400.
Overall, handling your name change and divorce together is faster and cheaper. But a separate name change filing after your divorce is still relatively smooth. An experienced divorce lawyer can advise you on the best options.
Now let’s talk about how to officially update your name with the Social Security Administration.
How to Change Your Name with the Social Security Administration
One of the key steps in reverting to your maiden name is updating your name in the Social Security Administration’s records. Here is a step-by-step guide:
1. Gather Your Proof of Name Change and Identification
You will need to provide documentation that proves you legally changed your name as well as documents to confirm your identity.
Bring an original, certified copy of one of the following:
- Marriage certificate (to show your old name)
- Divorce decree stating your name change
- Court order approving your name change
Plus one proof of identity like a current U.S. driver’s license, state-issued ID card or passport in your former name.
2. Complete the Social Security Name Change Application
Fill out form SS-5 and submit it along with your proof of name change and ID to your nearest SSA office. The form is available online or at your local SSA office.
3. Get Your New Social Security Card
Once your name change application is approved, you’ll get a new social security card reflecting your maiden name delivered to you in the mail.
This new card will have the same number as your old one, but will show your updated maiden name. Make sure to sign your new card as soon as you receive it.
Now that you’ve updated your name with the SSA — the final step is to change your name on all your personal accounts and IDs.
If you have children, you also have the option to change their last names. Here’s what to know about that process:
How to Change Your Child’s Last Name After Divorce
If you choose to take back your maiden name after divorce, you may want your children to have the same last name as you. Here are a few options for changing your kids’ names:
- Request a name change for your kids as part of the divorce. This allows you to change their last names when your divorce is finalized.
- File a petition for a name change through the courts. You will need consent from your ex-spouse or to notify them at minimum.
- If your ex-spouse consents in writing, you can take that document to your children’s school, doctor’s offices, etc to update their names.
- Once your children turn 18, they can legally change their name independently without consent.
Things get more complicated if your ex disagrees to a name change for your kids. You may have to settle the matter in court depending on your custody agreement.
Every family’s situation is different. Seek legal advice to ensure you make a choice regarding your kids’ last names that is in their best interest.
Finally, once all the paperwork is handled, it’s time to spread the word! Here are tips for announcing your name change:
How to Tell Family and Friends About Your Name Change
- Make phone calls or send emails to close family and friends announcing your new name. Explain that you decided to revert to your maiden name post-divorce.
- Write name change announcements to send in the mail in a card format. Include your new name, effective date, and signature with your updated name.
- Update your name on social media profiles like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to share the news widely.
- Have a name change party! Celebrate this fresh start with drinks and treats. Ask guests to help brainstorm creative ways for you to announce the change.
- Add your new name to holiday cards, birthday invitations, thank you notes and other snail mail. This helps spread the word organically.
- If needed, explain to any confused family or friends that this choice brings you happiness and that you hope they’ll support you.
Reclaiming your maiden name can feel liberating but also involves many tedious administrative tasks. Give yourself several months to work through the entire name change process. Be patient, organized and persistent.
With this complete guide, you have all the key steps needed to successfully change your name after getting divorced.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Do I need a court order to change my name back to my maiden name?
- If you requested and were granted a name change as part of your divorce decree, that court order is sufficient to change your name back to your maiden name. If you did not formally change your name through the divorce proceedings, you will likely need a separate court-petitioned name change order.
Q. Is there a time limit to change a name after a divorce?
- There is usually no strict time limit imposed to change your name after a divorce is finalized. However, some divorce decrees may specify a deadline by which you need to complete the name change process – commonly 60-90 days after the divorce is finalized. Check your decree for any requirements.
Q. What if I want to hyphenate or create a new surname?
- You can choose to hyphenate your maiden name with a prior married name or legally change to a new surname entirely. However, this often requires filing a formal name change petition in court separate from the divorce proceedings.
In Summary: Key Tips for Changing Your Name After Divorce
- Request the name change as part of your divorce for the simplest solution
- Update your Social Security card first before tackling all other records
- Make copies of your divorce decree to submit everywhere
- Update all your government IDs, accounts, and insurance policies
- Notify your employer, children’s schools, and anywhere else impacted
- Tell family and friends through phone, email, social media and mail
- Give yourself plenty of time to work through the process
Reverting to your maiden name is an empowering way to start fresh after divorce. Now that you have step-by-step instructions, you can smoothly transition to your new name. Best of luck and here’s to new beginnings!