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.

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