Going through a separation and then a divorce can be a difficult and stressful situation. However, it is also the opportunity for a fresh start. When you leave a situation that is not working, for whatever the reason, you have the chance to build a new, healthier life. Sometimes, that new life begins with you taking on your original or a different last name. It can be invigorating and a signal to the world that you are moving forward.
Changing your last name can be a very simple process during a divorce. However, if you decide after your divorce is finalized that you want to change your name, you will have to go through a different process. It is best to talk to your divorce attorney about your options for this so that there are no hurdles to jump in the future.
Name Change Through a Divorce Decree
If you know you want to change your name during the divorce, your attorney will ensure that there is a provision regarding this request in your final divorce judgement. Once you have certified copies of your Judgement for Dissolution of Marriage, you can use these and other identifying documents to obtain a new Social Security Card and driver’s license. You can obtain a Social Security Card with your maiden name by applying through the mail or at a local office. You will have to go to the DMV for a new license. Your divorce attorney can advise you on both of these steps.
Once you have your new identification cards, you will be able to notify other important parties such as your employer, bank, utility companies, credit cards and insurers. If you have a passport, you will need to obtain a new one.
Changing Your Name After the Divorce
Even if you are not sure you want to change your name, your attorney can insert a provision in the judgement that states you have the right to return to your maiden name. This is the best way to leave the option open for you in the future.
If you do not have a name change provision in your original divorce judgement, you and your attorney can return to court and ask the judge to modify the decree by adding this provision. Modifications are usually from a change in circumstances that affect child or spousal support. The court may not allow a modification for a name change.
If this amendment is denied, you will need to petition the court for a chance of name. This will be a separate legal proceeding from your divorce.
Petition to Change Your Name
Your attorney can help you fill out the forms for asking to change your name, including the request, the notice of filing, and the order. You will need to publish the notice of filing a request for a name change in a newspaper of the county where you live once a week for three weeks in a row. The first newspaper notice must appear at least six weeks prior to your hearing. You will file a certificate of publication proving you took this step with the court and then attend your hearing. The judge at the hearing can approve or deny your request.
There are multiple steps to a name change outside of a divorce decree, but an experienced DuPage County family law attorney can guide you through the process. Call us today to schedule your appointment.