Here Is Your Name Change After Divorce Checklist

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Should you change your name back after divorce? There is no right or wrong answer. It’s a question only you can answer. But, if you decide changing your name back is right for you, this article will provide your name change after divorce checklist!

Should you change your name back after divorce?

Let’s address it. If you’re a woman, you’re born with a name, and you have that name your whole life. It’s all you know.

And then one day, you get married and you change that name because you are taking your new partner’s name.  It’s exciting and fun and new, and you get to buy glasses and towels with your new initials on them! I get it. I was there. And you go on your honeymoon and at the hotel they call you Mrs. So and So. It’s a wonderful feeling.

But, sometimes things change. They change to the point where you and your husband end up divorced (which is why you are on this website.) AND, you still have your new (or not so new) name. So, do you keep it? Or do you change it back to your maiden name?


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Some people keep their married name forever, some change back, and some people change from husband number one to husband number two. (Not that I’m judging, I promise.)

Let me start off with the best piece of advice I think I can offer. For anyone who is getting divorced, make sure that your divorce decree gives you the option of changing your name back to your maiden name. Let me explain why.

I recently met two women who both told me they had been divorced for a long time (years.) Neither one changed their name back, and it wasn’t because they didn’t want to. They both stated that their attorneys didn’t put the option in their decrees. So, now they have to get an amendment to their divorce decree which means spending more money on attorney fees and a court appearance.

In other words, they need to get permission from their ex to change their name back! The fact that their right to change their name back wasn’t in their divorce decree is just bad lawyering.


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So, make sure it is in the divorce agreement. Most ex husbands don’t really care, in fact, I know a few who are extremely enthusiastic about having their ex go back to her dad’s name, either because they already have another Mrs. So and So lined up, or they are so angry and resentful that they don’t want their ex having their name anymore.

The biggest thing I can tell women is that changing your name back or sticking with your married name is a personal choice and everyone is entitled to do whatever she wishes.

Some people keep their married name because they don’t want to confuse their children or the children’s friends. In my opinion, I don’t think this is a big deal because if your kids’ friends call you Mrs. So and So, you don’t have to correct a third grader and say, “I’m sorry, can you please call me Ms. So and So (your maiden name)” That would be ridiculous. Just don’t say anything. Allow them to call you Mrs. So and So. What’s so bad about that?

It’s kind of like if you are Jewish and someone says “Merry Christmas.” Why correct them? Just accept the sentiment and move on. Just my opinion.

Another person might hate their ex so much, that all she wants to do is change her name back to get away from him, because she thinks it’s going to help her get over him. BAD IDEA. Don’t do it for that reason. Find other ways to deal with your hate and your bitterness. I don’t think changing your name back isn’t going to help.

If you do change your name back, do it for yourself. Do it for your profession. Or do it because YOU want that name back. I did it because I LOVE my name and I LOVE my father and I wanted his name back.

Incidentally, I know a lot of women who are still happily married who never changed their name in the first place, either because they liked it, or they wanted to remain with that name for their profession. I respect that. Always have.

But, I also respect those who want to keep their married name. If you just feel comfortable and this is who you were, and you wish to stay that way, than you have the right to keep it. No one should judge that.

Lastly, there are women who don’t want to change their name back after divorce because they think it will take a ton of time. I feel I owe it to you to tell you, I changed my name back and it was a piece of cake! No big deal at all!

Sure, it took a little bit of time, but for the gratification and pride I felt having my old name back, it was so worth it.

If you feel like you are ready, here is your name change after divorce checklist!

1. Have your divorce decree and copies of it with you at all times. You will be needing it a lot the first few weeks.

2. Go to the Social Security office and change your S.S. # first. (call or look online to find out what you need to bring with you.)


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3. Go to the DMV and change your driver’s license. (find out what you need to bring ahead of time.)

4. Go to your bank and change your accounts.

5. After that, just start gradually changing it. Every time you get your mail, there will be things you will see you need to change. It almost becomes fun, because it gives you this feeling of productivity and it isn’t hard.

That’s pretty much it. The process takes a long time before everything is changed, but who cares? It doesn’t take a lot of YOUR time.

I do want to mention that it’s important not to change your name back until you feel emotionally ready. I’m really glad I waited until I felt like it was the right time. I waited a few years after my divorce, and so I was ready. There was no raw emotion in doing it.

In closing, remember this. No matter what name you have, you are you, and your initials, your signature, and what name people refer to you as makes so little difference in the big picture. What does make a huge difference is the person you are, what’s in your core, what’s in your heart, and what you give to the world.


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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers.

The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

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