Divorce: The Rules of Reclaiming Your Maiden Name

No matter whether you are going to start an online divorce process using, for example, OnlineDivorcer, or are about to start preparing DIY divorce forms, if you want to make a fresh start and therefore are no longer willing to use your husband’s second name, then you can change the latter one in a few ways.

The laws regulating name changes vary from one state to another; however, below, there is some general information on this issue.

You Can Change Your Last Name Either During or After the Divorce

If you want to change your married name, then you should better think about this before you submit your divorce papers online; otherwise, this process is going to be much harder than it would be if you changed your second name as a part of your divorce. If there is no relevant order in your decree, then you can change your second name by asking the court to modify your divorce order.

Depending on the state of your residency you may be able to have your divorce order changed. But if you are not allowed to, you can take a few steps through your local courthouse to reclaim your maiden name. Most likely, you will have to do some paperwork and submit it to a clerk’s office.

Oftentimes, petitioners have to attend at least one court hearing, and both fingerprinting and criminal record checks may be performed, too. While some states only require publishing a specific notice in a newspaper, others force petitioners to inform about their court hearing date through publication.

What Paperwork May Be Required

If you decide to reclaim your maiden name, then you will have to update any document bearing your husband’s surname, including your credit cards, loan agreements, passport, driver’s license, etc.

Updating your surname on your passport

If it has been less than twelve months after your pass was issued, then you can reclaim your maiden name by mail. Make sure you send a color photo, your current pass, and a certified copy of a name-change doc along with a specific form filled out following all the requirements. In this case, it will cost you nothing.

If you want to update your surname more than twelve months after your pass was issued, then you will have to produce all the documents in person. In this case, passport fees must be paid.

Updating your second name on your driver’s license

It is better if you start with your driver’s license, as having your name changed on this document will help you change it anywhere else. For this, you will have to submit either your divorce decree or name-change order along with other documentation with the division of motor vehicles. Don’t forget about updating your vehicle records, too.

Changing your husband’s second name on your Social Security card

Browse to get an application form, fill it out and mail it to a Social Security field office along with other documents, including your proof of citizenship, divorce decree or name-change order, passport, and any other photo ID. Note that a new document will be issued for free.

Who Does Need to Be Informed About the Name Change?

All institutions that you deal with should be informed about your name change to be able to update your records.

An insurance company

It is much better for you if your vehicle, life, and other policies come together. For this, call your insurance provider and ask them to change your name. If you have records with more than one company, a few more calls will be needed.

Financial institutions

Establishments, where you have your funds, must be aware of your name change. Make sure that your bank accounts, mutual funds, investment accounts, and so forth are held in your new name.

Health care providers

Make sure that your doctor, beauty therapist, dentist, etc. have their records updated. Check if your name is changed on your child’s records, too.

An attorney

If you have decided to reclaim your maiden name before filing for divorce, then probably your attorney is informed about your decision. However, if you decide to reclaim your maiden name after the split, call your attorney and ask him or her to make the necessary changes to the file.

What About Your Children?

It is traditionally believed throughout the country that dads have the right to insist on their kids using their surname as long as they fulfill their parental duties. Even though most courts follow this rule, some approach this issue in a different way.

Most probably, the court will act in the kids’ best interests; therefore, if your little ones should use your maiden name, then so be it. Before a judge will make a final decision, the following factors will be considered:

  • how old your kids are;
  • how close your mother-child relationships are;
  • how long they have used their dad’s last name;
  • any negative consequences to changing the kids’ current surname;
  • any advantages to doing so.

A judge will take into account all the factors mentioned above while also considering the quality of the relationships between the kids and their dad.

However, no matter whether or not there is an order changing your kids’ surname nothing will affect the legal relationships between your little ones and their other parent. It is also worth mentioning that changing surnames doesn’t change any child-related rights and responsibilities, though.

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