206 Comments

If there's an issue so critical such as whether a woman will take her husband's last name after marriage, it's holding onto the last name or making a decision to drop it off after divorce. It's an issue that most divorced folks talk about especially if the man keeps on complaining that the ex-wife has stuck to the name and has refused to drop it off even after remarrying.

Chances are that the two divorcees might not be seeing eye to eye and apart from discussing their kids, if any; communication is minimized across the board. The man might end up being irritated that the ex-wife is still using his name. Just like anything about divorce being legal the question in most people's minds is whether there are guidelines about this.

However, this does not stop at the divorce level. There are men who might be wondering why the women they have married have refused to drop their last name from a previous marriage. While it might not seem right to some men, sticking to a last name does not really mean the woman is holding on to hopes of remarrying her ex. Love is not involved in keeping a last name or even a maiden name, in particular if an acrimonious divorce was involved. There are newlyweds who are deeply in love but decide to maintain their own names for all kinds of reasons and deeply happy divorcees who refuse to drop their ex's last names for all kinds of reasons.

It is worth noting that after divorce you cannot force an ex-wife to drop her last name except perhaps politely requesting her to do it. Whatever she decides is no longer your business.

As such, there are many reasons you might choose to keep your married name after divorce.

Consistent identity

If a woman keeps the last name of her ex she came to hate and reminds her of a painful part of her past life it must be really worth it. Maintaining a consistent identity is one of the reasons why women justify holding on to the ex's last name. If people had known the woman by that name for over a decade, it makes every sense to stick on to it. At the same time, it's possible that all the academic papers, such as degrees and diplomas earned while still married, were provided with the last name. It is also clear that, professionally, clients and business contacts might be knowing you as Mrs. X and dropping that might bring another whole set of complications.

For instance, Tina Turner in 1975 refused to change her last name after establishing herself, career-wise, with the last name of her husband and keeping it after 13 years of marriage made a lot of sense. Some women believe their time in a past marriage, their investment and input has earned them the name and must be kept.

Children

Children are perhaps the main reason why any mother will maintain a last name after divorce. Any broken marriage that has children might compel the mother to maintain the last name of an ex or a dead husband. Most women cite their children as the reason why they still hold on to the last name since it means they will have the same name as their kids. For some mothers, even a new child in the new marriage ends up with a hyphenated surname combining the last name of the ex with the last name of the new baby's father. At the end of the day, everyone ends up with the last name of the ex.

Changing the last name back is a hassle

Women who have divorced and would like to have a sense of their own identity and forget the man who brought a lot of pain in their lives simply seek to have the last name dropped. However, it becomes clear the hassle involved in changing everything is a tall order, potentially expensive and a long process, especially if changing her maiden name and transforming other items to reflect her married status took a lot of trouble and money.

It means that if you decide to revert to your maiden name you have to remove the last name from your banking information, driver's license, social security card, passport and any other document with the ex's last name. If anyone has gone through this before the reality of going through it again might be reason enough to stick with the ex's last name.

Prestigious name

It goes without saying, a prestigious name is just that, prestigious! If you were married to the Kennedy's, Presley's or any Royal family you already know you have a famous name that can open many doors. It is an esteemed name with a lot of benefits and dropping it off for a normal name that doesn't click anything in the mind once mentioned might not seem very wise. This is why women who have been married to famous people, celebrities, kings, millionaires and presidents among others might not let the name go.

Business reasons

At times, married couples establish so many business relationships using the last name of the husband. Since no one can foresee a future where both of them are separated, it seems logical to support such a decision where the family name establishes businesses. However, in case of a divorce, it makes a lot of sense to maintain the last name of the ex if an established company that has reverted to the ex-wife bears his last name. Companies would lose their standing and good business damaged if the name were to be changed. At the same time, if the customers and business partners know the ex-wife better with the last name of the ex-husband, it makes a lot of sense to maintain that name.

Impossible to let go of former lives

There are times when the woman is not the one who asked for a divorce. She might find it hard for various reasons to just let the last name of the ex go. Chances are she might be emotionally attached and still have feelings for the ex and since no one really knows the future, she might decide to stick with it.

There are cases where the divorce was done in an honest and kind manner and both parties were friendly right through the emotionally wrecking process. At such a case, it might be hard for the woman who did not go through a spiteful separation to just drop her last name, especially if the ex was considerate enough to end the marriage with more than she bargained for.

Fun, unique and exciting

Women have been found to keep their ex's last name for all kinds of reasons. Some women claim that going to their maiden name is a no-no because they did not like their father's to begin with, particularly those whose dads were estranged, drunkards and always absent in virtually all their lives. To such women, the ex's last name is a better prospect, particularly if the divorce was not rancorous. The ex's last name can also be unique, exotic and more fun.

Your last name as the first name

At times, even if you want to change the last name circumstances might force you to stick with it. Apart from keeping the last name for the sake of the kids, business or how exotic and fun it sounds, there are those who might have another reason. For example, a woman in the military may find it easier to stick to their last name because the first name is the last name. You are known by your last name and it's your identity. Dropping it might mean changing your life completely yet unless you leave the military and the country, your colleagues in the military may always refer to you by your last name.

No matter the reason you have for sticking with your ex's last name, it is your right under the law. There are also places where you have to indicate in a divorce decree whether you are keeping the married name or not.

206 Comments

  1. Nylecoj

    Can I use my new husband's last name as my informal name but still keep my ex-husband's last name as my legal name?

    Reply
      1. Carol

        That is a great thing to do you keep it informal. I work for the federal government and to change my name on everything that I do would be an extreme hassle. My new husband understands this and I go by his last name informally but legally have chosen to keep my ex-husband's last name who doesn't have a problem with that either

        Reply
  2. JustMe

    My sister married a guy for a couple of years, then divorced him because he was "abusive." They had no children. Now, decades later, she is still going by his surname. I don't get it! The only theory I can come up with is that our childhood was so bad she doesn't want to go back to that name. However, I am estranged from our family of origin and she is in pretty tight with them. Again, none of this makes sense to me.

    Reply
    1. JustMe

      BTW, I have had a legal name change. It is NOT that big of a deal. All these folks whining about how it's such a hassle, etc… I suppose if you own a lot of property and/or businesses it would be a pain, but for the average person it is not such a huge thing!

      Reply
  3. Jill Echevarria

    I am going to be divorcing my second husband, at his request because he has been having an affair and wants a divorce. We have been married almost 17 years but he has never like the idea of a woman keeping her husbands name when there is a divorce. My first husband passed away during our marriage, we were not divorced. Would it be proper to hyphenate my maiden name with my first husbands name or would it be better to just take my maiden name back?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jill. If that's what you'd prefer, then there's certainly nothing wrong with that. During divorce proceedings you can request the judge include an order to have a hyphenated version of your first husband's name in place. It's not assured anything other than your maiden name will be granted, but you can request it nonetheless.

      Reply
  4. Angel

    I have kept an ex's last name, but ONLY because there was a child involved… I personally believe that's the only case a woman should even consider keeping an ex's last name until getting remarried.

    Reply
    1. Nan

      I'm the new woman in a man's life where his ex thinks the same way keeping it because there is a kid involved well now if we get married I don't want his name and it seems like she is keeping it just out of spite since it ended so badly it's nice you think to change it when you remarry but what about the new woman in his life. I want to be the only woman with my husband's last name. Feels a bit hurt by her actions to keep a name. I also think if he wanted her to keep it then that would be a different story but he really doesn't want to have a lady who cheated going around with his name even if their child had his name. Guess I have to hope she remarries before we do. Doesn't seem fair

      Reply
      1. Myfairlady

        Nan, in this whole statement did you think about how the child would feel? If she gets remarried, she might not change it. Also you mentioned you wanted to be the only woman with your husband's last name… Is his mother allowed to keep it? You sound like a spoiled brat and in no way shape or form ready for marriage. FYI life is not fair, you might want to get used to that.

        Reply
  5. Hardworker

    I married my wife and she wanted to keep her ex husband last name, for me that was totally out of the question, I told he if That was the case then go back to him I will have separations papers done done ASAP, yeah everyone has ther own opinion and mine is nope you take my last name or this will be a short marriage. I pay the bills I pay the health insurance so f*ck that change it or I will walk point blank.

    Reply
    1. Laura

      Wow, that's mysogenistic… so what? You pay for stuff? Aren't you special? I can get being annoyed that she'd prefer to use her ex-husband's name to yours… but to give her an ultimatum: use your name and only your name (instead of maybe her maiden name, for example) or else?

      That sounds like chauvinistic bullying and little more. As a woman, if my husband had made the same demand, my only response would have been. "Good riddance. Must have been a reason I didn't want to change it in the first place." Or, as the Internet would say, "Bye Felicia!"

      Reply
      1. DrK

        Amen! If I had a do over I'd never have changed my name. The kids should have both names, It's the fairest option. We don't "belong" to our husbands, it is archaic and sexist I now realize. My whole professional career I've been married, we have kids and earned a doctorate so I'm exasperated that I may have to keep the name. We aren't even sure we want to divorce, but as I get older I questioned why I felt compelled to change my name and he refused to hyphenate like I did. Just sexist and irks me and that alone makes me want to change it back. I'm still not sure if changing back after over a decade of career and kids means I'm "stuck" but feels so :(

        Reply
  6. Tracey

    My husbands ex wife married a Turk and took his name for some things but now she wants to go back to using my husbands name and of course we think it's wrong is there any law against it?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tracey. Unless there's any attempt to commit fraud or avoid debts, there's no law against it.

      Reply
  7. suriena k davidson

    hello i am suriena i for got to tell the lawyer that i want my madem i am divorce now is there any way i can take it back my madem name or no

    suriena k davidson

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Suriena. Contact the Clerk of Court where you divorce was finalized. Ask if it's possible for you to restore your maiden name after entry of judgment. Even if your divorce is finalized. some courts have applications and procedures in place to restore a maiden name, even if you did not or forgot to explicitly request it during divorce proceedings.

      Reply
  8. Donnie

    My aunt is divorced and has dual citizenship in the USA and overseas. She is required to prove that she is LEGALLY using her ex-husband's last name overseas, as her last name was never changed when she and my uncle divorced. Where can she go to get such proof? The court granting the divorce say they have no document to provide. Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Donnie. Are you saying she originally did change her name upon marriage and she chose to maintain her ex's name after divorce? Or are you saying she never changed her name to her husband's, and all her documents are still in her prior or maiden name?

      Reply
  9. Tonya

    If you divorce but choose to keep your marrie name (due to having kids and all) and remarry, will your name have to be hyphenated using your first married name-second married name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tonya. If you choose to hyphenate, most states will allow maiden-second married name.

      Reply
  10. Dena Lee Mynar

    I kept my ex husbands last name for my kids(15 years now) Now they are grown and last daughter is getting married. I kept my last name as my middle name and have always signed everything that way.
    I own real estate and a car, am so ready to change my name. Will I have to change everything at the same time or can I wait til things are sold?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Dena. You can do it either way, as there shouldn't be a question of your identity.

      Reply
  11. Jess

    I divorced 10 years ago and kept my ex-husbands last name since we have 2 children. They are older now and I want to change back to my maiden name. My divorce decree states that I was to keep my ex-husbands last name as I requested. I am not getting married. What can I do now about changing my name back?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jess. Since your divorce decree doesn't have an order to restore your maiden name, you will have to petition the court for a name change.

      Reply
      1. Gwen

        Wouldn't Jess also have the option of asking the County Clerk if it's possible for to restore her maiden name after entry of judgment?

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Wouldn't Jess also have the option of asking the County Clerk if it's possible for to restore her maiden name after entry of judgment?

          No, the county clerk doesn't have the authority to do that. She could have asked the judge to amend the order, but that window of opportunity is typically only open for a short while after the divorce has been decreed final.

          Reply
  12. Renee Lane

    Valera, i have a question….I am divorced and have my divorced papers, I wasnt have to go to my hearing due to where i was residing in and didnt have a ride. On my Divorce papers it has as i am the defendant with my Name Renee Lynn Johnson Lane. okay, i want to know what i can do to go back to my maiden name as Renee Lynn Johnson. On my birth certificate is has Johnson and I have my High School Diploma with Johnson. How can I get my name back. The divorce was in 2003..

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Renee. Since your divorce decree doesn't have an order restoring your maiden name, you have two options: 1) Try to contact the court to get it amended, which would be unlikely, but worth an attempt, or 2) Petition the court for a name change, which is a surefire way to restore your maiden name.

      Reply
  13. Jane T

    On my divorce papers a name change (back to maiden name) was granted but I never got around to changing it on anything (drivers license, passport, ssi) . I'm getting married soon and was wondering if this will be a problem? Will I have to revert first to my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jane. No, it won't cause you any problems. You don't have to do any intermediary name change.

      Reply
      1. Teshia

        I have almost the same question
        I was granted my maiden name back through the court but decided to just keep my married last name. Our divorce was 2 years ago. Will I get charged or get in any trouble just keeping that last name and not going back to my maiden name??

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Will I get charged or get in any trouble just keeping that last name and not going back to my maiden name?

          No, you won't get into any trouble. You don't have to return to your maiden name if you've changed your mind and prefer to maintain your married name..

          Reply
  14. Maria

    Hi! I wss married for 20+ yrs and I got divorced a year ago. On court I agreed to have my name changed back to maiden name but haven't change it yet. Could there be any problems if I decide not to change it ?

    Reply
  15. Inadelle

    My husband and I have married each other twice and are now looking at our second divorce. (Ugh!) The first time we divorced, I kept his last name. This time around, I'd like to go back to my maiden name (after 24 years of having his last name). Our eldest daughter has already married and changed her last name and I expect the same will happen with our youngest daughter too. So, no need to keep it for the kids. Career/professional wise, it wouldn't be a hassle. They would probably expect me to speak Spanish, but that's another story. We own no property together. I would like a new start, even if my credit is still crappy haha. Just my two cents.

    Reply
    1. Sandy Lynn Patton

      Same going scenario, except the Spanish part, going on here.

      Reply
  16. Nikki

    Hi! My mother-in-law's husband of 17 years passed away (they were separated for 10 years of that but never divorced). That was her third marriage. She changed her last name to her 2nd husbands last name, just because her youngest child (Who is a grown man) has that last name. Is this legal?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      She changed her last name to her 2nd husbands last name, just because her youngest child (Who is a grown man) has that last name. Is this legal?

      Yes, it is legal.

      Reply
  17. Ms Holmes

    hi I am dating a married guy and he is in the process of getting a divorce but the wife told him that she cannot change her married name back to her maiden name is she telling the truth and if she keeps his name will she be able to draw from his Social Security although they are divorced

    Reply
    1. Valera

      the wife told him that she cannot change her married name back to her maiden name is she telling the truth

      During divorce proceedings a person can request their maiden name be restored. Such an instruction would be included in the divorce decree by the judge. It's up to the person to request it though.

      and if she keeps his name will she be able to draw from his Social Security although they are divorced

      Yes. The name is irrelevant.

      Reply
  18. Iris wharton

    My will is made for my daughter to inherit when I'm gone. She has divorced and reverted back to her maiden name. My will is in her married surname but no mention of her husband. Will she be able to claim her inheritance without me having to alter all of my will to accommodate the original surname. Iris

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Will she be able to claim her inheritance without me having to alter all of my will to accommodate the original surname.

      Yes, she will get inheritance, but may have to prove that she previously held the married name. Producing a certified copy of the marriage certificate should suffice.

      Reply
  19. Kimberly

    I have read through all the comments and questions but didn't find the following senerio, I am going through a divorce and thought I would just change my last name back to my maiden name (Long) but hated that idea due to father issues. Then, I was thinking of changing my last name to just be my mothers maiden name (Greene). However, since I still have minor children could I do the following: change my last name to use married name (Gaddes) hyphened Mothers maiden name (Greene). It would look like this Gaddes-Greene. I hope this makes sense, thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Kimberly. That would be at the discretion of the judge. You can put in the request and if it's denied you'll have to file a petition with the court.

      Reply
  20. Minerva Navarro

    I have been legally divorced for over 20 years. The divorce decree didn't mention my maiden name of whether i could change it or not. I am remarried and am trying to get a school certification although when I got the same certification years ago it was in my ex married name. Now they are saying legally my name never changed but I'm remarried. They said i need to change my name legally through the courts and it will cost me $250.00. Is there any way around it? I'm very upset. I only have a certain amount of time to get my certification. Plz help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Minerva. If you've remarried, and you've legally changed your name to your new married name, then your current name is your new married name. Your marriage certificate, not divorce decree, is the document you'd use to facilitate your name change.

      Reply
  21. Michael

    I've read through many of these comments and most, if not all are from ex-spouses deciding whether or not to change their names or if they'll run into trouble. I'm on the other end…the ex-husband. Our divorce decree states that " …wife, has requested that she shall have her former name of **** *** ******, restored to her." Although she may choose not to change her name back (after 20+ years), I cannot enforce this? This is not binding? I'm in California if this makes a difference. Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I cannot enforce this? This is not binding?

      It's not enforceable, nor is it binding. It just provides an option for your ex-wife to use, if she so chooses.

      Reply
  22. Yvette Thompson

    Hi, my sister was granted her maiden name back, which she used to sign off of the house loan. But she will sometimes use her maiden name and sometimes she'll use her married name. I told her she shouldn't do that. It could get her in the wrong trouble. Am I right, we live in Indiana. or is there a way to find out. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Yvette. While the divorce decree provided an order for her to restore her maiden name, it doesn't happen automatically. It's not clear if she actually went through the process of legally changing her name back. As for getting in trouble, someone can get themselves in a fine mess if they're using different names to commit fraud or avoid debts. For legal documents, she should be using her legal name (whichever that is). When filling out government forms, job applications, taxes, use the legal name.

      Reply
  23. Tracee

    Hi I was married for ten years and am divorced for 30 years I kept my exs last name because of professional licenses I am getting married to another woman who is divorced and kept her married name because of children can I take her exs last name since she kept it

    Reply
  24. Khristine

    what would be the benefit to changing my last name to my husband's after he's already asked for a divorce? The name had not been changed after 8 years of marriage, but after a divorce was in the works I was told I should take his last name. I use it publicly on social media but haven't established anything else in that name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Khristine. The only benefit would be if it satisfies your personal preference. Otherwise, it'll be more work to change it than to keep your current name as-is.

      Reply
  25. LaVonne Mitchell

    My elderly stepmother remarried after my husbands Dad died. Her marraige certificate has her new married name on it but she did not change any legal document..drivers license, SS card, trust accounts. etc. She recently had to divorce this man she was married to for 10 yrs. What is her legal name since nothing was changed? She lives in New Mexico and we are having to get our Real ID requirements up to date. Will this be a problem and what is her legal name??

    Reply
  26. Alice Murphy

    Personally I have been divorced for 8 years now and I remarried 3 years ago. I still have my ex's last name, I never "legally" took my new husband's last name due to having a young child with the ex. I wanted that child and his teachers to be able to connect the two. But now, that ex is remarrying and I feel odd about keeping the name still. My son is 11 years old and I am thinking about still keeping it but hyphenating my husband's last name. Then again a part of me says my son is old enough and it's ok to change to my husband's last name.
    My question is this, is it hard to change from a hyphenated name to just one last name at a later time?

    Reply
  27. Grace

    I have a kind of interesting situation. I was divorced and on my divorce decree it does state that I had intentions of taking back my maiden name. I however, did not go to the social security office to change it. I am getting remarried and I am taking his last name and my SSN has my ex's last name but all of my identification is under my maiden name. Will I have any issues with getting remarried if I have all of my other paperwork such as BC and divorce decree? I live in HI!

    Reply
  28. Jackie

    My husband's ex wife took her maiden name back after they divorced.We found out just recently that she still uses my husband's last name, even though we have in writing (divorce degree) that she restored her name back to her maiden name… My question is, is this legal? Can she really still use our name? She even gave her daughter our name, and blamed the hospital on it… I just don't know, something doesn't seem right about this situation.

    Reply
    1. Jackie

      * I forgot to mention that she used different names at different times… Our last name, her maiden name and also her last ex husband's name ( she's actually going through another divorce right now).

      Reply
    2. Valera

      We found out just recently that she still uses my husband's last name, even though we have in writing (divorce degree) that she restored her name back to her maiden name… My question is, is this legal?

      Yes, it is legal. A divorce decree order restoring a prior name isn't a command, it's an option. She doesn't have to follow through to change it for real if she doesn't want to.

      Reply
  29. Tracie Davis Stephens

    My current husband's ex wife still using his last name and recently got married. My question is since I just changed my name will all benefits belong to me or is she entitled to something?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tracie. Name usage doesn't have any affect on benefits. It's marital status that counts.

      Reply
  30. Michelle Flores

    I am filing for my divorce on my own. Due to work related issues and a child I do not feel the need to change my name back to my maiden name. However on the paperwork drawn up for me the line item is listed as:
    14. NAME CHANGE
    I ask the Court to change my name back to the name I had before my marriage
    How can I re-word it so that there is no request for a name change. Any help would be appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Michelle. Saying you want a name change on your divorce papers doesn't obligate you to follow through. It just gives you the option. If you specify that you want to go back to your maiden but never do, that's fine. If you don't specify it and later do want to return to your maiden, then you've likely locked yourself out of that option through use of the divorce decree.

      Reply
  31. Brad

    My wife kept her husband's last name as she likes it better than her maiden name and also because she shares the name with her daughter, I know she has no "love" feelings for her ex. With that said, it does make me feel a little strange that she kept his name. I just look at is as something I need to get over. It's my deal not hers and I totally get her reasoning. But, yeah…my insecurities creep in and it does bug me sometimes. Haha. And I'm 45. What the hell? Sigh.

    Reply
  32. Mercy

    Am a divorce woman.. Can I file or bring my new spouse that is living outside, U. S with my ex husband last name… Because am still using my ex last name.. Can I change the last name to my new spouse last name before filing him to U. S

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mercy. You can change your name to your spouse once you've acquired a certified copy of your marriage record.

      Reply
  33. Jennifer

    I am divorced and kept my ex husbands last name. I didn't ask to be restored to my maiden name in the decree. I am getting remarried and want to use my maiden name on my new marriage license. Will that cause me any problems getting my new married name put on all my legal documents, i.e. Social Security card, etc.?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am getting remarried and want to use my maiden name on my new marriage license. Will that cause me any problems getting my new married name put on all my legal documents, i.e. Social Security card, etc.?

      On your marriage license application, where it asks you to specify your name, you must put your current legal name and not a prior name. Using your ex's name wouldn't prevent you from changing your surname to your spouse's.

      Reply
  34. Julianne Fishell

    Hi. My divorce was final in January. In the papers I elected to restore my maiden name. However, when I remarried in March I hadn't changed my name back yet on drivers license etc so used old married name on marriage application. For the name change field on marriage application I didn't put anything (though my maiden name is mentioned in maiden name field).

    My question: can I still use divorce decree to change back to maiden name and if I do will I have an issue proving that I'm married to my new spouse? Hope this makes sense.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My question: can I still use divorce decree to change back to maiden name

      Yes, you can still use it.

      and if I do will I have an issue proving that I'm married to my new spouse?

      No, it wouldn't be a problem. They're unrelated issues.

      Reply
  35. tony fowler

    My wife was court ordered. How can I make her change it

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Tony. Unless it was a part of the settlement agreement, there's not much you can do to compel the name change.

      Reply
  36. DrK

    Does anyone have the experience of going through a divorce and being able to add their maiden name to their children's middle names to ease any confusion about parentage?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi DrK. You'd typically have to go to court and the other parent may have to agree to the change in writing.

      Reply
  37. Karen

    My husband is going through a horrible custody cause. we are raising his daughter . she is remarried now and still uses Arrao.. if she has a new drivers license under her married name is this illegal that she is still using Arrao in court and other legal things

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Karen. It depends on if she's trying to commit fraud or evade debt. It's also not clear which is her legal name. You say she has it changed on her driver's license, but what about her social security card? Some people have name mismatches with the SSA and DMV, where they update one but delay updating the other. If the SSA still has her maiden name, then it would make sense for her to continue using it.

      Reply
  38. Nony

    Please help,
    I've been separated from my chronically abusive spouse for five years now and within these years I've gotten my master's degree still bearing his name (this is of course without his support). There is a child from the marriage which he has constantly rejected as being his own so as to avoid any kind of support from him and this child (boy)is bearing his name too.,my confusion and question is, can I change both my name and that of the child to my own name or should both of us bear my maiden name..

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nony. It's up to you how you choose to change your name and your child's. It's whichever you prefer.

      Reply
    2. daniel r luna

      Nony that is a very good choice on your behalf … especially given the fact that this man was abusive and rejex his own child why would you want to be reminded daily of that man and his last name associated with you and your life this is exactly one of the reasons why the maiden name should revert back as the original name once a divorce happens. My ex-wife was a Flander that cheater and abusive we had three beautiful children a beautiful home a beautiful life. When I chose to divorce her because she would not change. I believe it is a slap in my face for her to continue on using the marital name I have sensed used a different name for myself just because I feel tarnished by her flaunting my name…

      Reply
  39. Monica Arrieta

    Hello I was just divorced August ,23, 2016 and on the divorce I asked to change my name but now I want to stay with my marriage name because of my daughter she likes that we have the same last name she already went through mm and dad separating I don't want to take this away. Can I keep my married name if on divorce papers say ok to change it or do I have to go back to court and say I want to keep it? Or just leave it alone?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can I keep my married name if on divorce papers say ok to change it or do I have to go back to court and say I want to keep it? Or just leave it alone?

      You don't have to change it. You don't have to return to court. You can leave your name untouched.

      Reply
  40. daniel r luna

    Personally I think the person that wrote this article is ignorant. I don't care what the argument is I believe when a man marries a woman and the woman in marriage accept his proposal and is granted his last name that is sacred that is entailed in marriage. I think especially after divorce when they do not see eye-to-eye and they have grown apart and decide to separate that they're definitely should be a separation of the last name that was granted two his wife. I don't care what the argument is a woman should not be able to keep the married name regardless if they have children or not. The children are apart of the father but the ex-wife is no longer apart of the ex-husband. This should be common law that after divorce the name of the ex-wife returns to her maiden name. I believe there is still a connection left open when the ex-wife is allowed to carry on the marital name this should be illegal and considered as a counterfeit illusion and a fake name at that point.

    Reply
  41. Julie

    Hello,

    I've been divorced almost 30 years, and like some of the comments, I kept it so I would have the same name as my daughter. I always said I'd change it back to my maiden name once she got married. She's not married yet, but I have a feeling it will happen in the next couple of years.

    Petitioning the court for a name change was mentioned a couple of times so I'm assuming that's what I need to do. If so, will I have to show divorce papers/ proof that I'm divorced?

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Petitioning the court for a name change was mentioned a couple of times so I'm assuming that's what I need to do. If so, will I have to show divorce papers/ proof that I'm divorced?

      No, you will not have to show proof of divorce.

      Reply
  42. Anonymous

    I went through a divorce and legally went back to my maiden name. I own and operate a business in my married name and elected to continue working under that name. I changed everything license, passport, etc and now I am struggling with needing to use two names and would rather have the married name back for personal and professional. Am I able to change my name back to the married name legally if I elect to do so?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Am I able to change my name back to the married name legally if I elect to do so?

      Yes, you can legally return to your previously married name.

      Reply
  43. Glenda

    I have kept my ex's name so I will have the same last name as my children. Now that my children are older, my youngest in college, I have decided to change my name to my maiden name. I changed my name first at SS then to DMV and my professional license. Little did I know that I still have a lot to change, banks, insurance companies, some professional docs, mortgage, life insurance, liability insurance, car insurance, loans….etc..etc. I now regret that I started this process. Can i revert everything and change my name back to my ex-husbands's name? I am known in my industry as Dr M, and M___ being my ex's last name. It will be difficult for everyone to identify me with my maiden name. Is it possible to go back to using my ex's name? go back to SS, DMV and professional license? I need help please…

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it possible to go back to using my ex's name? go back to SS, DMV and professional license?

      Yes, you can reverse the name change process, but you'll have to obtain a court order first. The government institutions you cited will need such a document to change your name again.

      Reply
  44. Nina

    hi, I was married back in europe and came with my husband in united states. Later we got divorced, but I did my divorce back home where i was married at. Cheaper that way. Its been 15 yrs since then and due to kids I kept his last name. Now i like to change it to my maiden. Since my divorce is from another country and I live in US, how can I change my last name? i do have it in english copy and noterized from back home. What do i do to start the process? thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Nina. If your divorce certificate contains an order to restore your maiden name, then you can use it. Otherwise, you'll have to petition the court for a general adult name change.

      Reply
  45. Krista

    So I was married before and changed my name. When I divorced I never changed my name back since it was easier not going through those motions.
    I am now engaged again and for my new marriage I would like to use my maiden name till I take my new husband name. What documents do I need to change and what can I wait till I get married?
    Could I just get social security and license changed? Then hold off on notifying my job as well as bank and credit cards?
    I am getting married next September and I realized I need to get this in the works well beforehand.

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am now engaged again and for my new marriage I would like to use my maiden name till I take my new husband name. What documents do I need to change and what can I wait till I get married?

      If your divorce decree includes an order restoring your maiden name, then use it to change your name with the SSA, DMV, etc. If it contains no such order, you must petition the court for a name change.

      Reply
  46. sevans

    I have been married twice..so obviously divorced once and looks like I will be going through another. Can I go back to my last name from my first marriage?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sevans. During the divorce proceedings request the judge restore your preferred prior name.

      Reply
  47. Ann Granato

    my husband and i were together for 14 years then we separated (not legal) i went to work but i used my maiden name for 35 years but my ss card has my married name on it and ss has my work history under my married name can i change my name back to my maiden name name before i collect my ss my husband has since died and we never shared anything in the 32 years we were apart

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ann. You will have to petition the court for the SSA to change your name back to your maiden.

      Reply
  48. Tamika

    I will be married for 7 years this June. I haven't changed my name on some of my documents like my social security card, or DL but everything else has been changed this day one. My question is when I change my name will it be counted for the 7yrs that I have been married or treated as the date it was changed. I'm from IL please help

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My question is when I change my name will it be counted for the 7yrs that I have been married or treated as the date it was changed.

      From the date it was changed. No backdating.

      Reply
  49. Dan

    So please answer me this. What if the new boyfriend is just unsettled with her retaining the last name of her husband since they have been divorced 8 years and he's remarried. They have kids together and now they are teenagers. It can't be as easy as well its my daughters last name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Dan. Ultimately, it's her choice to maintain the name or revert to a prior. There's been cases of spouses and spouses' spouses upset over their ex maintaining their surname, even when the divorce decree granted an order restoring a prior name. There's no recourse for them. If the person doesn't want to change their name, there's not much that can be done to compel them.

      Reply
  50. Dana shaffer

    hi I got divorced and still used my husbands last name, i on my passport, And Dl, now I’m getting married again and would like to change to my current husbands last name. What do I need to do? Do I need to provide paper work stating that I was divorced, and never changed my last name or would my current marriage certificat which was issued outside the United States work to change my passport and Dl to my new name

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Dana. You don't need to reference your divorce papers. Your foreign marriage certificate is sufficient.

      Reply
      1. Dana shaffer

        Thank you for your response, my marriage certificate is not the original as I was married outside the United States and the certificate is not in English, however I have a copy translated in English and notarized, would this be accepted, if not, what do I need to do? My husband is outside the United States and not a citizen.

        Reply
        1. Valera

          Hi Dana. If your foreign marriage certificate is a certified copy, you're good to go.

          Reply
  51. Cody

    My ex wife told me she lost my last name, because I didn’t document that she could keep it.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      she lost my last name, because I didn’t document that she could keep it

      Hi Cody. I don't know what you mean by this. Please clarify.

      Reply
  52. Beverly

    I divorced my ex in 2006 and hyphenated using maiden-ex's name because i had two young kids and it would be easier having the same last name. Now my youngest is in his last year of high school and I want to remove the -Ex name. It is my legal name on all my documents (I think…) I know my bank accounts, w-2's, social security, license and passport are all in that name.

    How do I go about dropping the hyphen legally? Do I just need my birth certificate and the divorce decree or will the birth certificate alone do the trick since I'm hyphenated?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      How do I go about dropping the hyphen legally? Do I just need my birth certificate and the divorce decree or will the birth certificate alone do the trick since I'm hyphenated?

      If your divorce decree includes an order dropping your ex's last name, then that's the only document you'll need. If it includes no such order, you'll have to petition the court to drop the name.

      Reply
      1. Beverly

        Thank you. I'll have to check my divorce decree… haven't looked at it in years!

        Reply
  53. Filipina J

    I came in the US thru Fiancé Visa and married my bf in Cali. We’re in the process of divorcing now after 10 yrs of marriage. I have all my documents under his last name like my very first SS card, US passport and DL. He wants me not to keep his last name after divorce. I have 2 children from my previous marriage from abroad, and they acquired citizenship through me. If I change my name, will it affect my children’s US passport once we’re renewing them since I’m having a different name? I established my identity in the US using my husband’s last name. It would be a pain for me to change my name after divorce. Please advice me. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      If I change my name, will it affect my children’s US passport once we’re renewing them since I’m having a different name?

      No, it will not affect them.

      Reply
  54. Adina

    I moved to the US in 2007 and married an American citizen and took his last name. In 2012 we divorced and the judge asked me what name I want after the divorce; I said I will revert back to my maiden name so the divorce decree says that the maiden name is restored to me. After a little while I realized what a hassle would be o go through the name change process and chose to keep the married name. The issue is that now I want to register my marriage and divorce in my home country so I can obtain an ID with my married name but they want the divorce decree to say that I can keep the married name? What should I do? All my documents here were never changed to my maiden name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Adina.

      You have a few ways to go:

      1. You can contact the court and ask that your divorce decree be amended, but that's unlikely to be accepted.
      2. You can obtain a court ordered name change, which would override your divorce decree.
      3. You can explain that the restoration of your maiden name on the divorce decree was legally nonbinding and that your legal name is still your married name.

      Reply
  55. Barbara

    Can a person Ugo back to a last name they have no document for? Example I'm adopted I'm getting a divorce, can I go back to my name before I was adopted or do I have to use my adopted name which I have a birth certificate for. My name before I was adopted I have no birth certificate.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Barbara. During your divorce proceedings, you can request the judge restore your name before adoption. It's no guarantee it'll be accepted, especially without supporting documentation.

      If the judge denies your request, you'll have to petition the court for a name change, which doesn't require supporting documents.

      Reply
  56. Madison

    Do I have to change my last name back to my madien name when I get divorced or can I keep my married name forever? Tennessee laws

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I have to change my last name back to my madien name when I get divorced or can I keep my married name forever?

      You do not have to change it. You can keep your married name as long as you prefer.

      You can still ask the judge to restore your maiden name or a prior name in the divorce decree, but you don't have to actually change it. Having it there will give you the option to change it if you later have a change of heart.

      Reply
  57. Jenna

    I was hoping to get an answer because I haven't been able to get ahold of my lawyer and it's now the weekend. If I just had my divorce finalized on the 24th of march 2018 and when the judge asked me whether I wanted to keep my ex-husband's last name or take my maiden name back, I said I wanted to go back to my maiden last name. When he told my kids that I was going to have a different last name then them, they were very upset. After a lot of thought I want to keep his last name. Since I haven't even received any papers on the divorce, can I still change my mind and keep it legally? If it matters it is in the state of Ohio. Please and thank you for any help.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Since I haven't even received any papers on the divorce, can I still change my mind and keep it legally?

      An order in your divorce decree restoring your maiden name simply gives you the option to revert if you so chose. It's not automatic. Do nothing, and your current name stays the same.

      Down the road, if you want to return to your maiden name, you can use your divorce decree to do it instead of having to petition the court.

      Reply
  58. Mary

    I am divorced and still has my ex last name. I am about to remarry and would like to have my maiden name on the marriage certificate. Is this possible? After marriage, I plan to change my last name to my second husband's last name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mary. It varies by state. Some will permit you to return to your maiden name or a previous surname.

      Reply
  59. Amarie

    Amarie

    I am divorce I kept my ex last name
    Now, I am remarried, I would like to know can I still keep my ex last name, and my current husband name as well? Reason being all of my certification high school Diploma and BA degree is in my ex last name. Also my DL and SS, Passport, will it be a problem if I leave every thing the way it is or do I ofto change them all to my current husband last name

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I would like to know can I still keep my ex last name, and my current husband name as well?

      You can hyphenate, if that's what you're suggesting.

      Also my DL and SS, Passport, will it be a problem if I leave every thing the way it is or do I ofto change them all to my current husband last name

      You can leave them unchanged.

      Reply
  60. Keneisha

    I'm divorce but still have my birth maiden- and my ex name I want to get married again can I drop my ex name and add my present husband or do I of to do paper work before getting married and after married. I just want to do my IDs once..

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Keneisha. You can make the change at once after your upcoming marriage.

      Reply
  61. ellen pugliese-spangenberg

    my husband passed away and i would like to use only my madien name, all the info i have read is about divorce and some just crazy on how to do it. is there an easy way to change a name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Ellen. No, there isn't an easier way. You'd have to petition the court to return to your maiden name.

      Reply
  62. Dinorah

    Hello,
    I was divorced 10 years ago but kept his last name, did not change it back to maiden. Now I'm trying to get married, at the courthouse they asked me for a certified copy of divorce decree, it says I have to change my last name back to maiden one. Do I need to change the name to maiden and then apply for marriage license, then change to new last name again? or Can I proceed to only change it once after new marriage?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I need to change the name to maiden and then apply for marriage license, then change to new last name again?

      No, you do not.

      or Can I proceed to only change it once after new marriage?

      Yes.

      Reply
  63. Cathy

    I was married for 15 years legally changed my maiden name to my married name. I have now been divorced almost 3 years. I took my maiden name back legally through the divorce. I now want to go back to my ex husbands last name. Is there anyway to do that? I already changed everything to my maiden name but wish I didn’t for numerous reasons. so can I take back my ex husbands name even though I legally already went back to my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I now want to go back to my ex husbands last name. Is there anyway to do that? I already changed everything to my maiden name…

      You'll have to head to court and file a petition for a regular adult name change.

      Reply
  64. C Minasto

    Hello group I have a question that someone mite to answer for me. Four months I got divorce and it was somewhat peaceful. Ten was a relationship and ten married and one of the reasons the was a divorce she is on the loose side. Now I have asked a lot of people and the law says she doesn't have to but I was reading something on the internet where if she fight you she can pay me money every month for using my name. Is this true of BS

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I was reading something on the internet where if she fight you she can pay me money every month for using my name.

      I don't understand what you're saying here. Fight you how?

      Reply
  65. Ken

    I wanna keep my current married last name while I legally add my new husband’s name. Is this possible? I live in Jacksonville and discussed with a divorce lawyer, but I keep asking professionals because I was not satisfied.

    Reply
  66. jen

    I have ben divorced for almost 2 years now and I am wanting to change my last name back to my maiden last name how can I do that since I have been divorced for going on two years?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Jen. If your divorce decree has an order restoring your maiden name, use that document to change your name. If no such order exists, you'll have to obtain a court order.

      Reply
  67. Liana

    I am in the process of getting divorces, and the decree will restore my maiden name. Do I have to go through the process to change everything immediately? Or, can I wait for as long as I want?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do I have to go through the process to change everything immediately? Or, can I wait for as long as I want?

      You can wait for as long as you want. After the court grants you the order to restore your maiden name, it's not concerned about whether or not you ultimately go through with it.

      Reply
  68. denise

    My divorce became final last week I requested to go back to my maiden name and is granted on the decree now after thinking about it all the pain to change back to my maiden name Im thinking about just keeping my married name but the decree is final and the maiden name is official do I have to change everything or can I say to heck with it and keep my married name

    Reply
    1. Valera

      the decree is final and the maiden name is official do I have to change everything or can I say to heck with it and keep my married name

      You don't have to change anything. Your divorce decree simply provides you the option to go back to your maiden name, if you so choose.

      If you're sticking with your married name, file your decree away and forget about it. If you later reconsider and want to return to your maiden name, the option remains available.

      Reply
  69. Genea

    I was married 33yrs ago and taken on my ex's last name. Now I am engaged to someone and they want me to change my name back to my maiden name before we marry. Is this fair for me to go through the hassle of me changing my name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is this fair for me to go through the hassle of me changing my name?

      No one can force you to change your name. It's your decision to do so or not. If you do decide to go forward with restoring your maiden name, you can only use your divorce decree as a mechanism if it contains an order to restore your maiden name. If it contains no such line, you must petition the court.

      Reply
  70. Alisha Brosofsky

    Hi I divorced in March, I requested my name be restored back to my maiden name. The judge did grant this but do I actually have to switch back or can I keep my married name? As stated it is a pain to change your name!!!

    Thanks
    Alisha

    Reply
    1. Valera

      The judge did grant this but do I actually have to switch back or can I keep my married name?

      No, you can skip it.

      Reply
      1. Alisha Brosofsky

        Thank you so much I did not want to go through all the hassle of changing it. So do I keep it as it was when I was married or first,maiden,married?

        Reply
  71. Sulma

    I have a question. I divorced my ex but never changed my last name after the divorce because of the inconvenience of change all my documents and I was using his last name for more than 10?years. But now I’m getting married next year and I don’t know what last name I have to use for the ceremony and my new marriage certificate. My current last name ( my ex last name) or my last name previous married.
    Please help!!!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Sulma. When you fill out your marriage application, put down your current legal name. If there's a spot available to specify a new name post-marriage, put your new preferred name.

      Reply
  72. Louise

    I have been married two times I've never carried second hubby name I've always carried. My firs husband name everything is in his last name .I called as the other day and they have me under my second name. How do I get it back to the name I've used since I've been 16? Can I go to the small court house in my town and do it? What do I need top get this done ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Louise. If you're talking about changing your name through court, which court you file in varies by state. Which state are you a resident of?

      Reply
  73. loraine

    Hi! I had a divorce last 2015 and requested for my name to change it back to my maiden name. But since then, I have not change or still use my married name in my IDs, account. I am now applying for citizenship and would like to know if my legal name would be of that in the divorce decree or what i am still using. thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I am now applying for citizenship and would like to know if my legal name would be of that in the divorce decree or what i am still using.

      What you're still using, considering you never legally switched back to your maiden name.

      Reply
  74. Laura

    First of all, thank you for keeping up with this conversation! I will be going through the divorce process soon. I do not want my ex last name or my maiden name. Is it ok to use another? It is my step fathers but he never legally adopted me.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is it ok to use another? It is my step fathers but he never legally adopted me.

      You can request it from the judge, but it's unlikely. Name change via divorce is meant to restore a former name. You'll likely be told to separately petition the proper court for a new name.

      Reply
  75. Dee

    I got divorced a couple of years ago and the decree says my name would go back to previous legal name. My passport is still in my ex’s last name. I also have global entry with ex’s last name. It is now time to renew my passport. Can i renew and keep under my ex’s last name to prevent hassle of changing global entry too? I rather not change the name back.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Can i renew and keep under my ex’s last name to prevent hassle of changing global entry too? I rather not change the name back.

      Yes, you can maintain the status quo.

      Reply
  76. Cindy

    My situation is totally different, I am filing for divorce now but, during my marriage, I had changed my First Name. Do they allow me to keep my new First name and Maiden last name? Or I have to change to the name I had before I was married?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Do they allow me to keep my new First name and Maiden last name? Or I have to change to the name I had before I was married?

      Name change during divorce wouldn't affect your first name. You would be able to keep it unchanged. You can request your last name be returned to your maiden name or any prior legal surname.

      Reply
  77. Bonbon

    My fiance asked for his name back as part of the divorce and his wife agreed and signed it on the divorce papers. She is now refusing to change her name. What can be done about this?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      She is now refusing to change her name. What can be done about this?

      Nothing really. Your fiance's ex-wife can't be compelled to change her name.

      Reply
  78. Andy Lee

    My fiance kept her ex husbands last name. We are applying for a marriage license. Is she required to use her current legal name with her ex husbands last name? Or can she use her maiden name on the marriage license?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Is she required to use her current legal name with her ex husbands last name? Or can she use her maiden name on the marriage license?

      When the application asks for her name, it's referring to her current legal name. Some applications may ask for any prior name, but that would be a separate field.

      Reply
  79. Stacey

    I asked the courts to change my name after my divorce and now I want to keep it because of my kids. Can I do that? Do I have to go back to court to change my statement?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I asked the courts to change my name after my divorce and now I want to keep it because of my kids. Can I do that?

      Yes. Just do nothing and nothing changes.

      Do I have to go back to court to change my statement?

      No, you don't have to go back to court. You're not obligated to change your name just because you obtained a court order to do so. It simply gave you the option to. It's nonbinding.

      Reply
  80. whassinaname

    Hello, I've been divorced over ten years and have kept the married name because of children and a professional license. Now my children are (mostly) grown. One is married and the other is in college. And I'm about to get another professional license in another field, which I believe will be permanent.

    I'm unsure of whether to change my name because to my maiden name for the new license, it leave it as is and be stuck with the ex's last name for my child's sake for 2-3 more years.

    Or can I leave the ex's name on the old license, do, etc. and put my maiden name on the new (work-related) license?

    This is more of a moral dilemma than anything. Please help!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      I'm unsure of whether to change my name because to my maiden name for the new license, it leave it as is and be stuck with the ex's last name for my child's sake for 2-3 more years.

      First, you have to decide if you're going to formally change your name. It appears that your legal name is not your maiden name. You wouldn't be able to update your license until you decide what to do here.

      If you do decide to change, whatever entity issues your professional license may want to be notified. Depending on your profession, this may be mandatory or at least highly recommended. Whether they require your license be reissued in your new name varies.

      Reply

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