No. Both spouses are entitled to keep their married names after divorce. If you took your spouse’s name, you may wish to reclaim your “maiden name,” after divorce, but your spouse cannot force you to do this. In fact, no one can force you to change your name.
Why Would a Woman Keep Her Married Name After Divorce?
Most often, the wife changes her name when a heterosexual couple gets married. After a divorce, a woman may wish to keep her married name to continue sharing a last name with her children.
A woman’s name is also a crucial building block of her identity, and she may like her married last name and wish to keep it. This may be especially true if she has used the name professionally.
Spouses often become part of each other’s families, and if a woman feels like she is part of the family, this feeling might not change just because of a divorce.
A woman who takes her husband’s name is legally entitled to that name for as long as she wishes to keep it.
Should I Change My Name?
The choice of whether to change your name after a divorce is entirely yours. You can keep your married name, return to your birth name, choose a new name, or drop your last name altogether.
The reasons you keep or change your married name will be your own, as well. Some people prefer their married name, others want to honor their families, and others still want a clean slate. Still, you should not change your last name to dodge debt or legal responsibilities, and you should consider the implications of keeping your last name.
For example, you or your spouse may have a hard time dating new people if you are the original Mr. or Mrs. [insert married name here], and many people hold onto their married names for the wrong reasons (i.e., holding onto a marriage or relationship that has ended).
Also, if you choose to get remarried and take your new spouse’s name, you will have to put your old married name on the legal documents, which could be uncomfortable.
Still, the choice is up to you. If you don’t care about changing your name, but your former spouse does, you can also use this information as leverage during divorce proceedings.
Can I Change My Kids’ Names?
If you want to change your children’s last names to your birth name, you will have to ask your ex-spouse for permission. When both parents agree, name changes are easy enough, but if your ex says no, you will have to petition the court.
The court will only allow a child’s name change if it is in that child’s best interests. Changing your children’s names will not change the relationship they have with your spouse, either.
Generally, divorced couples prefer to keep their children’s names the same regardless of whether their own names have changed.
How Do I Change My Name?
If you decide you want to change your name during divorce, have your attorney include your name change order in your divorce decree. This can make the process cheaper and easier because the process of getting your name changed after divorce is expensive and time-consuming.
Of course, your divorce decree may not include a name change section, and you can always change your mind (and your name) long after the divorce is finalized.
In California, changing your name costs $435 in filing fees, and the name-change process must meet statutory requirements. At Family Law San Diego, we help our clients change their names for a flat fee, and our firm avoids unnecessary delays.
We have more than 200 combined years of legal experience and we seek to empower our clients to make the best choices for themselves and their families.
If you want to change your name, our team can help.
Call us at (619) 577-4900 or contact us online to get started with a free consultation.