Divorce is all about changes, and if you desire you can even go back to using your maiden name. You should be prepared to make a lot more changes, however, if you revert to using your birth name, since a multitude of documents will need to be changed along with your marriage status. Before you make that decision, take a look at some important considerations concerning taking back your maiden name.
What you should know
1. Don't feel compelled to change your last name just because you are divorcing; it is strictly your choice. If you decide to go with your maiden name, you can have a provision included in your divorce petition, which is the easiest path to take. If you change your mind later, you can still revert back to your maiden name, but you will likely need to file a name change motion or request a hearing, depending on the laws in your state.
2. On the other hand, if you opt to continue using your soon-to-be ex-husband's last name, you need do nothing at all. You should consider the possibility for some confusion if your ex remarries and she wants to use his name as well, but that problem could pale in comparison to changing your name on so many documents.
3. Men are increasingly taking their wives' maiden name as part of their own when they marry by hyphenating the two names. The right and rules for men to take back their former birth names are identical to those of women taking back their maiden names.
4. The option to change your name through a divorce petition is strictly limited to a change back to a former maiden or birth name. If you desire an entirely different name altogether, you must go through the traditional avenue in your state.
5. Most people have far more documents with their name attached than can possibly be listed, but here are a few common, and not so common, documents that will need updating if you decide to revert back to your maiden name.
- Driver's license and passport.
- Social Security (it should be noted that the Social Security Administration will inform the IRS of the name change on your behalf).
- Bank checking and saving accounts, checks, bank cards.
- Deeds and titles.
- Mortgage, vehicle, student and personal loans.
- Credit cards.
- Insurance: health, auto, life, renters.
- Beneficiary: wills, life insurance.
- Retirement and investment accounts.
- Emergency contact numbers (and names) for your children's school, friends and family.
- Voter registration.
- Work: human resources, i.d. badges, business cards and stationery.
As you can see, the list is daunting and is far from complete, but for those who truly want a fresh start with their divorce, taking back your maiden name may be the perfect move. Talk to a divorce attorney from a firm like Finocchio & English for more information.