Reasons to Not Change Your Married Name after Divorce

Husband and Wife Divorce Argument

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 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.

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  1. paula lieberman

    I am divorced and would like to change all of my professional documents etc. to my married name. But I do not know what my legal name actually is! It is urgent that I find out, as I am completing my will and need to use my legal name. Neither my ex-husband nor I can locate our marriage license. What should I do to find out, and hopefully be able to use my married name legally?

    1. Valera

      Hi Paula. If you've never changed your name before, locate your birth certificate for your name. If you can't find it, you can order a certified copy from your local vital records office. Alternatively, locate your social security card for the name that's on there. That would be the name you'd go by.

      If you A) can't find your social security card, or B) have previously undergone a name change, try contacting your local social security administration office about the name that's on your identity record. If necessary, you can submit an application for a replacement card.

      1. Ericka Buddy

        Did you even understand her question? She is no longer married to the person whose surname she hope to assume. Is that even legal? It looks like fraud to me.

        1. Valera

          Hi Ericka. She was asking about how to identify her legal name, which was answered.

        2. Rachel

          If she was married to him and took his last name that is her legal name regardless of divorce. Just because you are divorced does not make it fraud to continue to use his last name. Sounds like she is unsure of how her name is written on marriage certificate.

  2. Sherri

    I was born in Canada and living in British Columbia. I married a Swiss man, in Switzerland, where I resided for the past 6 years. I have now returned to Canada and am waiting for a divorce to go through. I have tried to get my BC driver's license reissued, but even with my old BC license, birth certificate, and old passports in my maiden name, plus a new passport in my new name, several papers indicating both my names, including a copy of my marriage certificate, the unsigned divorce papers issued from the Swiss court (in German), and a notarized paper from a lawyer in BC, requested by the Swiss court re: the divorce (in English), they still want the original Marriage certificate, certified and translated into English.

    As I understand it, I can go back to my maiden name at any time, so can I get my driver's license issued with a birth certificate and then change everything back to my maiden name from there, or will I still need the original marriage certificate. I would have to change it at the credit union, on my passport, and my RRSPs. I don't have any credit cards, house or car.

    I appreciate any advice you can give me.


    1. Valera

      they still want the original Marriage certificate, certified

      In order to fulfill BC's request, have you attempted to order a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the Switzerland civil status office?

      and translated into English.

      You'll need to hire a certified translator to translate your marriage certificate to English. The translator will need to provide you an "Affidavit of Translation."

      As I understand it, I can go back to my maiden name at any time, so can I get my driver's license issued with a birth certificate and then change everything back to my maiden name from there, or will I still need the original marriage certificate.

      You won't need the original marriage certificate. You'll need a certified copy. That or a divorce certificate, which is not yet available as it hasn't been finalized.

  3. Diamond Pizarro

    Thank you so very much for the advice, this is my first marriage as well as divorce.

  4. tameka

    Can I keep my hyphenated maiden-married name when I divorce and then add a new name to those if I remarry?

    I want to keep my current maiden and married last name when l divorce and legally add my new husbands name. Is this possible somehow?

  5. Cassandra

    I was not given a middle name at birth so I have always used my maiden name as a middle name. I have been married twice (and divorced twice) and each time I married I took my husband's last name and kept using it until I married the next husband. I am getting married again and will change my name to my future husband's last name. Will that then be my legal name?

    1. Valera

      I am getting married again and will change my name to my future husband's last name. Will that then be my legal name?

      Yes, that will be your new legal name.

  6. Lauren

    Can I just say that these arguments can also be used to justify why you shouldn't change your name when you get married to begin with? Just switch the jargon and it makes sense. Ah, archaic rituals.

    1. Alice McGregor

      Mm, I don't think so entirely due to the complication of remarrying when you already have children.


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