What’s in a Name? Should You Restore Your Name After a Divorce?

Summary: Changing your name can be a difficult challenge, even under pleasant conditions. Should you restore your name after a divorce even though the process can be a little less than fun? We take a look at some of the benefits and disadvantages of changing your name after you get divorced (and after you get married, for that matter).

To Change or Not to Change

It’s not uncommon for women to change their last name when they get married. But should you restore your name after a divorce? The practice of changing the last name back isn’t quite as common–for a couple of reasons. But even when it comes to that, attitudes are quickly changing in the United States.

Even the original practice–changing your name when you get married–is quickly falling out of favor. That could be because this name change was originally performed in order to denote one’s property. (If you don’t think the changing of the last name is rooted in sexism, ask your male partner to adopt a woman’s last name when they get married.)

The Process of Changing Names

But it still happens more often than not. Hyphenated names are becoming more and more popular. But even hyphenated names involve going through the process of legally changing your name. And that can be quite a process, depending on which state you live in.

In most cases, you’ll have to register your new name with the state courthouse, and then you’ll have to get a new social security card from the federal government. Sounds easy, right? Not always. There are wait times involved, and fees. And you have to have a copy of your birth certificate and your marriage license and so on.

Every state is likely to have slightly different rules, so be sure to consult with the laws in your area regarding changing your name. Unfortunately, to restore your old name, you have to go through the same cumbersome process.

Complications to Name Changes

There are several complications involved in the decision to restore your name. The most common such complication is children:

  • Which name do the children have?
  • How old are the children? Does it make sense to change their names as well?
  • Do you want to have a different last name than your kids do?
  • What happens if you get married again or decide to change your name in the future?
  • Is it better to change your name now or wait until your kids get older?

The list of questions could keep going. But you get the overall idea (we haven’t even gotten into passports, traveling and so on). There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re thinking about how your name change might affect your children. But there’s a little more to it than that.

Your Name and Your Identity

There are many people who feel as though their names and their identities are inextricably linked. When you change as a person, your name should change too. That’s why changing your name when you get married makes sense–you’re going through a significant life changing event.

There’s are some people who don’t necessarily believe that divorce is as much of a change to their identity, at least not right away. So they’ll wait to restore their name if they ever decide to. There are other people who just don’t want to add that one thing to do on top of everything else.

Getting Your Name Right

Whatever you decide to do, it’s not a bad idea to consult with an attorney about your name change and name restoration options. When it comes to how to restore your name after a divorce, it never hurts to have a little help.

And when the process is a bit simpler, it might make your decision a little bit easier.

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Dan Voltz / About Author

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