How To Change Your Name After A Divorce
Many people understandably want to change their name after a divorce.
You do not need to explain the reason for the name change. For most divorcees, part of the motivation for a name change is to regain their identity and independence and remove the name that symbolically ties them to their ex-spouse.
Whatever the reason, it is certainly possible to replace your name after you get a divorce. The more important question is how to change your name after a divorce.
The name-change process varies from state to state, but the general steps are the same. If you want to know how to change your name after a divorce, you may need to consult an attorney to help with both the name change and the overall divorce process.
In many states, you need to request to restore your previous name or petition for a name change on your divorce appeal. Even if you do not make this request at the time of your divorce, you can get the name changed later by requesting a court order.
What Are the Steps to Change Your Name in PA?
If you want to know how to change your name after a divorce, you need to understand your state’s laws.
However, the process is quite simple. There are three main steps required to change your name in the state.
First, you need a court order as proof of the divorce name change. After you have acquired the court order, you need to notify the SSA (Social Security Administration) of the change. Also, you will need to change your name with the DMV.
Getting a Court Order
The domestic relations court has the power to “restore any name that the person had before marriage.”
You can ask the court to include the restoration of your name in its final divorce or dissolution decree. An important thing to note here is that, while a domestic relations court has the power to restore your former name (as it appeared on your ID before marriage), it cannot change your name to a completely new one.
For that, you would have to go to a probate court in your county.
In case you don’t have the name restoration included in the Final Decree of Divorce, you may still change your name later through your county’s probate court.
This process involves some paperwork. There are forms to fill out, and you will need to publish the notice of the application in a local newspaper at least 30 days before the official hearing.
While publishing your name change in the newspaper may seem unnecessary at first, it is actually for a good reason. The main reason that you have to do this step in some states is to avoid people changing their names secretly to defraud creditors.
Changing Your Name with the SSA
Once you have the court order for a name change, the next step is to apply for a new social security card. You can complete the application online.
The SSA will ask you to present legal documents proving the requested name is legally yours. In this case, the court order that granted your name change qualifies as a legal document. Other materials you may need include a birth certificate or passport as proof of both citizenship and identity.
Changing Your Name with the DMV
Once you have applied for a new social security card, you will need to request a name change at a DMV. For this step, you will need your new social security card, your driver’s license, and proof of your name change (the court order) along with the payment for any applicable fees. Your driver’s license will then be updated to reflect the changed name.
Avoid the Extra Court Order by Including Your Name Change in the Divorce Petition
You may have noticed that applying for a name change after a divorce can be complicated. The fastest and simplest way to get your name changed after a divorce is to include the request for a name change in the divorce petition.
The court will then include that new name in its final pronouncement. However, the other processes, such as getting a new social security card and having your name changed at the DMV, are still necessary.
Something to note is that, even if the court makes the Decree of Divorce without including the name change, you could still theoretically continue using your pre-marriage name in social situations.
You will need a court order as proof of a name change for official purposes and legal situations.
Agencies, organizations, and employers will require you to present some proof of the name change before they agree to use it on official documents.
As long as you include the request for a name change in your divorce petition, you should receive it as part of the court’s pronouncement.
If you don’t, you can follow the steps above to get it changed after the fact. Once you have the court papers, you can have your name officially changed at school, work, and on official documents.
Notify the Correct Departments and Agencies about the Name Change
Once you have changed your name legally, it is still your responsibility to modify your name on other records and identity documents. Some places you may have to notify include:
• Voter registration
• Post office
• State tax authority
• Insurance policies
• Places of employment
• Investment plans
• Retirement plans
• Credit cards
• Subscriptions and memberships
You may also have to consider changing other sensitive documents, such as your will, power of attorney, contracts, trust documents and records, and health care proxies.
Because of the complexity associated with name changes, you should consult with a qualified lawyer regarding a name change and any other significant legal matter. The attorney may explain the full implications of a name change and advise you on how to navigate the situation.
Ideally, your attorney will have the knowledge and experience to help with all aspects of the divorce, as well.