The tradition of a woman changing her name to her husband’s last name after getting married goes back many years. Many women still do observe this custom. But after a divorce, a woman may wonder “Should I change name back after divorce?”
A woman who has legally changed her name to her husband’s last name may opt to choose to change her last name back to her maiden name or given name. Many women will return to their “maiden” name, the last name they had prior to the marriage. Or a woman may opt to keep her married last name. She is not required to change her legal last name to her old maiden name.
If you think you may want to lose the last name you took when you were married, you will want that to be included in your divorce decree. Your lawyer should make sure to ask you, and if you say yes, then include that desire in the final judgment of divorce papers. But remember changing your last name in divorce papers does not automatically update your Social Security Card, Driver’s License, or other records as Texas reminds you.
Changing one’s name is a process that will take a bit of effort, after the divorce. You will need to change your name with Social Security first and to do so, you will need to have proof of the name change which is why the final judgment of divorce papers will need to include the return to that name.
Once it’s changed with Social Security, you’ll need to change your driver’s license, passport, voting records, and likely any professional licenses. It would also make sense to change bank accounts, credit cards, brokerage and retirement accounts, and any other records to your “new” legal name. Just like when you were first married, you will do the same steps to update your important identifying documents.
Name Change After Divorce Is Not Required
Changing your name after marriage is optional, and so is changing it after a divorce. Even though it’s a long-standing custom, it’s not required. Modern brides often keep their given name for convenience and career but can refer to themselves as Mrs. “Husband’s Last Name” particularly socially.
However, most people assume that “Miss Smith” will become “Mrs. Jones” after the wedding, so be ready if people ask. Conversely, many people will assume you will lose the married name after the divorce. The point is legally, as a woman you are not required after a divorce to change or keep the name.
Deciding To Change Name Back After Divorce
There are reasons you may want to keep the last name. If you had a long-term marriage and over that time, established your career identity with that last name, a name change may cause confusion and mistaken identity when interacting with business associates, clients, and the like.
Things can sometimes get complicated when there are children involved. Moms find that when mother and child have the same last name, it’s easier for the school and other parents to make the connection that these are related family members. If you have a different name than your children, there could potentially be some confusion when picking them up from school, at a doctor’s office, or elsewhere. But because women do not necessarily give up their last name when they get married, the commonality of divorce, and the number of unmarried parents, most entities are not surprised by differing last names anymore.
A great option is to use an “also known as,” or a.k.a., to show your relationship to your children at their school. For example, my legal name after divorce is Emily Smith but I am also known as Emily Jones, the mom of Brittany and Bobby Jones. This is perfectly acceptable. School records, medical records, and other formal documents will need to reflect your legal last name though.
Changing Your Name Later Is Another Legal Case
It’s easy to change your name with the final decree of divorce. Texas Family Code, Chapter 45, Section 45.105 allows a judge to order a name change in a final decree for divorce, annulment, or declaring a marriage void. But you can only switch back to the name you had before marriage through this process.
If you later decide to change your name after the divorce is final, you’ll likely have to file another petition with the court and get a court order. People legally change their last name for various reasons and that is why there is a legal procedure for any individual to petition the court to change their name. Since a name change is a separate court proceeding, you would need to pay any court fees associated with that as well as a lawyer’s fees if you hire an attorney to help you take care of a name change.
So if you think you might as well change your name back, save some money, and include it in the divorce decree, and then use “also know as” (a.k.a) as needed.
Tarrant County’s Compassionate Divorce Attorney
Since 2001, Wendy Hart has been helping people throughout Tarrant County as well as Johnson and Ellis counties with various family law issues. She is well versed in all matters of divorce including name change. She can assist with divorce, child support, child custody and visitation, paternity, adoption, and other family law-type issues. She understands what’s involved when a relationship breaks down and legally what needs to be done.
If you are considering divorce, contact the Law Office of Wendy L. Hart at (817) 842-2336 or use our online contact form to schedule your consultation. We look forward to helping you.