Married women who have taken their spouse’s last name are faced with an additional decision during the process of divorce: Should I take my maiden name back?

Why You May Be Hesitant

For some divorcing women, this may seem like a small issue in the course of terminating a marriage. There are already many overwhelming changes and stresses happening all at once. These changes affect your relationship status, your finances and your residence. Your future is shifting and you may not want to add your name to that list of changes.

Your feelings about your name may change from the time your divorce becomes final to later in the future. Changing your last name may be an issue you don’t want to consider during such a chaotic time.

How to Give Yourself the Option

Your maiden name is an important consideration as you head toward the future. You can take as long as you want to make that decision as there is no time-frame in which you have to decide.

If you are not ready to make the decision of changing back to your maiden name during your divorce proceedings, your attorney or mediator can still help you with the option in the final judgment order. Consider including the option in the final judgment order. This eliminates the need for you to return to court for a hearing if or when you decide to legally change your name in the future.

Make sure to request five certified copies of your final judgment of dissolution of marriage from the clerk of the family court. By requesting these documents early on, you will have them readily available to quickly start the process of your name change if or when that time comes.

When You are Ready to Reclaim Your Name

Whether you decide to take back your maiden name when your divorce is final or in the future, you will need to change your name on important identification documents such as your:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social security card
  • Passport

Saying goodbye to your married name and reclaiming your maiden name is an emotional and personal choice. The proper guidance of your attorney or mediator can prevent future court hearings. Anticipating the need for government document requests will ease the process if you decide to return to your former last name. This decision is completely your own.

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Note:  This article was originally written in 2014, prior to the enactment of the Equal Marriage Act in 2016.

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