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Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Changing Your Name After a Divorce - Should You Do it?

Are you going through a divorce or considering a divorce? If so, changing your name after a divorce may or may not be important to you. A New York family law lawyer can discuss the issues related to changing your name after a divorce in more detail. Below is a summary of some things you may want to consider and discuss with your attorney.

How to Change Your Name After a Divorce in New York?

If you decide to change your name after a divorce in New York, there are several things you need to know before you begin the process of a legal name change. First, you cannot change your name to a name that you have never used. You can only change your name to a name that you used before the marriage. Any other name change requires a separate legal action.

You need to gather several documents before you begin the process to change your name. In most cases, an individual needs a certified copy of the New York divorce decree; proof of identification, such as a valid passport, driver’s license, or state identification card; and, proof of age, such as a birth certificate or adoption decree.

Before you take steps to change your name on various legal documents and accounts, you need to review your divorce decree. If the divorce decree does not include a provision that grants your name change, you may need to petition the court to modify the divorce decree.

If the court does not agree to modify the divorce decree, you will need to petition the court for a change of name. A change of name petition is a separate legal action to your divorce. Therefore, it is helpful to give thought to the question of whether you want to change your name after a divorce before divorce is final. It is much easier, quicker, and less costly to change your name after a divorce in New York if you and your divorce attorney ensure that the divorce decree contains the specific provision permitting a name change.

Do You Want to Change Your Name After the Divorce is Final?

Some women prefer to return to the use of their maiden name or another legal name they used in the past after their divorce is finalized. There are many different reasons why a woman would want to resume her maiden name or another name after the divorce.

If the marriage and divorce were emotionally painful or volatile, a woman might wish to remove all reminders, including the use of her married name. In some cases, a marriage is short and a woman prefers to resume the use of her maiden name because she does not identify with her married name. Because each person is different and each situation is unique, choosing whether to change your name after a divorce is a personal decision only you can make.

However, it is important to note that in some cases, changing your name after a divorce can be time-consuming, frustrating, and costly. If you have been married for many years, it is likely that most, if not all, important records are in your married name. Changing your name could cause confusion and problems in the future.

Just a few of the important agencies, institutions, and other parties that you need to notify of a name change include:

  • Social Security Administration
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • United States Postal Service
  • Department of Veteran’s Affairs (if you were a member of the armed services)
  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Healthcare providers
  • Insurance companies
  • Holders and managers of retirement accounts
  • Financial institutions, banks, and creditors
  • Schools, including your children’s schools
  • Employers

You also need to obtain new documents to reflect your name change, including a driver’s license, Social Security Card, and a passport. Many of the above companies and entities require these documents as proof of your name change.

For some individuals, changing their name after a divorce is not worth the time and effort involved in making the change. For other individuals, the change of name is well worth any effort necessary to effect the change.

Contact a New York Divorce Attorney for More Information

If you are contemplating a divorce, a New York divorce attorney can help you choose the best option for your situation. An attorney can also ensure that elements such as a change of name clause in the divorce decree are not overlooked. Contact Gassman Baiamonte Gruner, P.C. to speak with a New York divorce lawyer today.


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