Family Law Blog

Divorce: Considerations of Changing Your Name in a Divorce

Thursday, February 07, 2019

woman speaking with divorce lawyer

Sometimes, women who are getting divorced consider reverting to their maiden names. This is a relatively simple procedure in California and can be done by your submitting your proposed Judgment (Form FL-180) for divorce. Your attorney will let you know what you need to do. Even if you don't elect to change your name at that point, it can be done after the divorce, by filing a Petition for Change of Name. This is slightly more complicated, but still a relatively simple procedure.

More important than the steps, however, is the decision itself. If you are a woman who took her husband's name, or part of a couple who hyphenated their surnames, dissolving the marriage can raise complicated feelings about what your name will be after it. It's important to note that changing the name will not have any impact on the financial settlement or divorce decree. Nor does it have any impact on legal responsibility once the divorce is finalized. You will never, for example, be responsible for a spouse's bills or other obligations because you share a last name. Even if creditors track you down because of the surname, you are a legally separate entity once the divorce goes through. You have only to tell them you are divorced.

So what are the considerations you should think about when deciding to change your name in a divorce?

1. Your feelings about your ex-spouse

If you and your spouse are amicable, it may make no difference to you whether you keep the name or not. If the divorce is a painful one, however, your feelings about your spouse may color your feelings about your surname. If it would make you feel better, you may want to revert to your maiden name or remove the hyphenated name. If you don't want to do that, you can change your name to a third option of your choice.

2. Your feelings about having the same name as your children

Some people would prefer to have the same name as their children or think the family name should be held in common. If this is your married name, you may want to keep it. But changing the name of both yourself and your children is also an option.

3. Your feelings about a fresh start

Some people see their divorce as a time of new beginnings. If it would support that feeling to change your name, it can definitely be an option as well.

Do you need to discuss divorce with an attorney? Contact us.