How To Change Your Last Name Back To Your Maiden Name After A Divorce

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

<p>State laws allow people to adopt the last name of their spouse or any other surname they desire when they get married. It is a personal choice that is recognized as a legal change of name once it is entered on a marriage certificate. When a marriage ends in a divorce, the process of resumption of the use of a prior surname, including a person's maiden name, depends upon the provisions of the law in the state granting the divorce.</p>
<p>Obtaining Permission in the Divorce</p>
<p>The procedure in most states is for the initial pleadings in a divorce action to include a request for permission to resume the use of a maiden name. States such as New York and New Jersey go a step further by deeming the request to resume the use of a maiden name to include any surname the requesting party used in the past.</p>
<p>The request is routinely granted by the divorce court including it in the judgment or decree of divorce. All federal and state agencies accept a judgment or decree of divorce containing a provision allowing one of the parties to resume the use of a maiden name as a legally enforceable court order.</p>
<p>A person cannot be forced to resume the use of their maiden name, nor will opposition by a spouse in the divorce proceeding affect a judge's decision to grant the request. It is a voluntary choice that a person is free to make or decline to make. Inclusion of resumption of a maiden name in the judgment of divorce does not make it mandatory.</p>
<p>Failing to Request Permission in the Divorce</p>
<p>While the decision to change back to a former surname or maiden name is easily accomplished through a divorce proceeding, it becomes a bit more difficult if the request is not made before the divorce is finalized. If that happens, some states allow a person to file a motion asking the court to grant permission for the use of the maiden name. If granted, the judgment of divorce is amended to include a new provision allowing the change of name.</p>
<p>Where the law does not allow for post judgment name change in the divorce, an individual can do a change of name proceeding. Ask at the clerk's office at the local courthouse about the procedure for a change of name because it varies from state to state.</p>

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