The Name Game After Divorce: Married Name or Maiden Name

Incident to the divorce, the wife has the option of returning to the use of her maiden name. The decision to return to a maiden name is highly personal.

The blog,   Seven Secrets to a Successful Divorce, offers up one woman’s struggle with the dilemma over her name.

Initially decided to return to my maiden name and asked for it to be changed at my final divorce hearing. But then something strange happened. As the months passed, I continued to use my married last name, putting off changing my driver's license and credit cards. Something just did not feel right about changing my name back to the name I once used long ago. I felt like I wasn’t that person anymore, yet I also did not feel comfortable using my married last name. I certainly was not the same person who used that name either.

In the end I decided to give myself a new last name. One that I choose. I shortened my married last name and gave myself a brand new identity. I went to court and legally changed my name. It felt right and it was empowering to begin my new life after divorce with my own chosen identity, not the name I was born with and not the name I got from being married.

There are several issues to consider when deciding whether or not to keep your married name after a divorce. Here are few:

1. Your children. Do you want to avoid confusion at school by keeping the same last name as your kids?

2. Paperwork. Changing your name means changing your driver's license, bank accounts, credit cards and countless other documents. Expect to spend time and energy taking care of this.

3. Have you established yourself professionally with your married name? If so you may not want to change it.

In the end, make sure it is your own decision to change or not change your last name. Don't give into pressure from your ex, who may object to you using your married name. It is perfectly legal to continue to use your married name after a divorce. If you no longer wish to use your married name, then make sure you are comfortable going back to your maiden name. If not, you may want to do like I did and create your very own new last name.

Clearly, there is no wrong or right answer to the name game.  Your name goes to the very nature of your identity.    If, later, you feel you made the wrong choice, you can even start another action to legally change your name.

9 Responses

  1. Amy
    I have filed for divorce, but now my husband says that he is going to contest that I change my last name back to my maiden name...can the judge force me to change my last name if that's what he wants?
  2. B. Stone
    I found it necessary for the peace of my children to keep my married name so that it would be the same as the children's. It causes them problems if you have a different name. I am more concerned about the New York Child Support Law that requires non custodial parents to pay child support until the "children" are 21. This is so oppressive to the payor besides the dynamic that it initiates in the teenagers lack of willingness to plan to make their own living. Is there a process by which this law can be changed to cover kids only up to age 18 as other states do? What were law makers thinking??????
  3. Reggie
    What court do I have to go to do change my last name. I was divorced in Arizona but now live in Georgia. I have been divorced for 10 years
  4. M.S.V.
    Hi, Hopefully someone can help me. I have been divorced for 10 years and want to go back to my maiden name. Not sure how to go about it legally. I have another problem..I have an expired passport that was issued in's under my maiden name. I need to re new asap because I'm going away. Do I renew it under my maiden name or do I have to use my married/divorced name, since legally it's still under that name. Please any help would be greatly appreciated.
  5. William DeAngelis
    Is my ex-wife entitled to use her married name even after our divorce?
  6. What'a In A Name. I have been told, or I have been asked as to why I have not gone back to my maiden name. I am now in the position of maybe deciding to do that. Why? Because I am in the process of changing things from one state to another state. If I change back to my maiden name or to another name, it would be a lot easier and cheaper and less hassle. Also, some don't understand. Some have never understood. Why? Because those "some" are taking their "view" on me from others rather than going to the trouble and energy and time to find out for themselves. So, is it right? Is it timely-yes, maybe. Do it for myself? Do it for my deceased parents? so many thoughts. What's In A Name? If a family has the same blood, id a family has God's love and they show it to each other, then what does a name matter? Accept who I am? That's the problem. In a sense, I am being told what to do, because once again, "they" don't understand. So....what's in a name? Hmmmm????
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