Changing Your Name After Divorce

Businesswoman writing on a form

Divorce is a time of many changes. Many women in Minnesota change their names when they get married, and are faced with the decision whether to change it back if they get divorced. While this issue used to be exclusively a concern for women, a small but increasing number of men have begun changing their names when they get married, often to a hyphenation with their wife's maiden name. They, too must decide whether they want a name change at divorce.

Just as with the decision to take a spouse's name upon marriage, however, it is not necessary to change one's name after divorce. It's entirely a personal decision, and there are plenty of valid reasons you might consider keeping your married name, or shedding it along with your marriage.

Pros and Cons of Changing Your Name When You Divorce

One obvious advantage of changing your name when you get divorced is that it's an outward signifier of a major change in your life. Our names are intertwined with our identities. Your identity is changing from that of a married person to a single one; your name change can reflect that, to both you and others. If your marriage was difficult and your divorce acrimonious, taking back your maiden name (or choosing a new one) can symbolize taking control of your life and creating a new beginning. Looking down the road, recognize that your ex may remarry at some point. If that's the case, consider whether you want to share a surname with not only him and your children, but his new spouse as well.

On the other hand, there are pros to keeping your married name after you divorce. A big one is avoiding the need to change your name with employers, government agencies, insurers, banks, credit card companies, and so on. Another reason many women choose to keep their married names after divorce is to maintain the same last name as their children. This is both administratively easier when dealing with schools, pediatricians, and so forth, and may also provide a sense of comfort and continuity for the children. If you are a professional, and clients and colleagues know you by your married name, you may also wish to avoid the confusion that comes with changing your name.

Tips for Changing Your Name in Your Minnesota Divorce

If you do decide to change your name when you get divorced, here are some tips to make the process easier. It's ideal to have the name change ordered as part of your judgment of divorce. Having the change identified in this official court document will make it easier when it comes time to change your name on accounts, passports, licenses, etc.

If for some reason you did not specify that your name change should be set forth in your divorce judgment, you can file a petition for name change with the court. When the name change is granted, be sure to get several official copies of the order to use in the event you need them to change your name with various agencies or companies with which you deal.

Don't underestimate the number of places your legal name is on record, and take steps as soon as possible to make sure these places have your new legal name. They include:

  • Social Security Administration
  • Internal Revenue Service and state and local tax authorities
  • United States Department of State (passports)
  • Minnesota Department of Public Safety
  • Minnesota Secretary of State
  • Employers
  • Investment companies
  • Estate planners
  • Health, life, vehicle and property insurers
  • Children's school contact information
  • Banks
  • Credit card companies
  • Merchants with whom you have accounts

The sooner you correct your name with businesses and government agencies, the less likely you are to run into difficulties later.

For more help with divorce and name change issues, contact Bloch and Whitehouse, P.A. at (952) 224-9977 to schedule a free initial consultation. We can help you identify whether a name change is best for you and help streamline the process. We look forward to working with you.

Categories: Divorce