When Can I Change My Name After a Divorce?


Names play a vital role in our sense of identity, so it's not surprising that women often opt to change their name after a divorce in Pasadena. Going back to her maiden name provides a concrete way for a woman to symbolize the "fresh start" of a new chapter in her life.

A divorce decree typically contains a provision in the decree that either party can return to their pre-marital name. You do not have to change your name after your divorce, however. Some women with young children at home choose to keep their married name to avoid having to constantly explain their marital status to the child's teachers and friends. Women who are older and established in their careers may want to keep their married name for professional reasons. If you wish to keep your married name, your ex-husband can not force you to change your name. The decision is yours alone.

Some women start using their maiden name socially while waiting for their divorce to be finalized, but you can't have your name legally changed until the divorce is official. The paperwork required to change your name on legal documents such as your Social Security card generally asks you to submit a copy of the divorce decree from the clerk's office of the court.

If you decide to return to your maiden name, remember that the change needs to be made on all identifying documents. You will need a new Social Security card, a new driver's license, passport, and new credit cards. You will also need to contact your bank, the utility companies, and anyone else you do business with on a regular basis. Normally, women get a new driver's license first because this proof of identification is often asked for when you change your name on other documents.

When changing your name, remember that you can't opt to change a child's name after the divorce unless the court determines it is in the child's best interests. If you wish to obtain additional information regarding how this is done, you will need to contact a Pasadena family law lawyer.