Most women (and some men) take or add their spouse’s last name when they marry. If you did that, you’ll need to decide what you want to do as you divorce.
This is a highly individual decision and one you shouldn’t make lightly. While the legal name change process itself isn’t complicated, there are myriad locations where you’ll need to report that change or your life is going to get even more complicated.
More importantly, your married name is tied in with your feelings about your soon-to-be ex. Whether you gave up your previous name when you married or added your spouse’s to it (hyphenated or not), be sure you’re not taking back your previous name solely because of how you feel about them right now.
What should you consider?
As you decide whether to keep your married name, consider the following:
- Have you had your married name for many years?
- Would it be detrimental to your career if you changed your name now?
- Do you like your current name better than your previous one?
- Do you have children who share your last name?
- Is keeping your married name going to cause you continued pain?
- Is returning to your prior name going to take you back to a time you weren’t happy?
As you can see, there are practical as well as emotional considerations. It’s important to weigh both and consider long-term effects rather than what’s easiest and most convenient in the immediate future.
If you want to return to your previous name as you divorce, you can ask a family court judge to authorize the change. You’ll need legal documentation of that change to make the change on your driver’s license, passport, Social Security number, with all of your financial institutions, the post office, your employer and elsewhere. Having legal guidance can help you ensure that these changes go as smoothly as possible.