If you chose to take your spouse’s last name when you got married you may be considering changing it back now that you’re getting a divorce.
For some, deciding to take your spouse’s last name when you got married wasn’t even a question—you knew you wanted to share the same last name as your spouse. It is a tradition in American culture, a right of passage that signifies the start of your life together as a married couple.
For others, taking on their spouse’s last name may have been somewhat of a difficult decision. Perhaps you didn’t want to lose your surname. Maybe you felt a deep family connection to your last name or just really loved the sound of it. Maybe you were concerned about having to reestablish a name you had already made for yourself in your professional world.
Now that you are getting divorced you may be looking forward to letting go of your ex’s last name and reclaiming your maiden or former name. This may leave you asking, “How do I change my name after divorce?”
2 Ways to Change Your Name after Divorce:
- Change your name after divorce in Virginia as part of your divorce proceedings.
- Change your name after divorce in Virginia by filing an Application for Name Change with the Virginia Circuit Courts.
Change Your Name as Part of Your Divorce
Deciding to change your last name after divorce may not be an easy decision. If you have children together, you may want to keep the same last name as your children.
Going through the divorce process may leave you feeling so exhausted that you don’t have the energy to contemplate whether you want to change your name or not. And that’s okay. It’s a big decision.
The good news is, you can wait if you are unsure.
If you know that you want to change your name, our divorce attorneys can change your name back to your maiden or former name as part of your divorce. Your divorce lawyer can file a name change request for you before your divorce is finalized.
Then once your divorce is finalized, the name change order, signed by the judge, will serve as proof of your name change.
If you want to change your last name to something other than your maiden name or former name, you will have to file a name change petition with the courts separately from your divorce.
Change Your Name by Filing an Application for Name Change with the Virginia Circuit Court
If you need more time to decide or want to change your name back to your former name after the divorce has already been finalized, you simply have to meet the Virginia requirements for a name change, and then follow a few steps to get your name changed back to your former name.
Requirements to Change Your Name in The Commonwealth of Virginia:
- You must have lived in Virginia for at least 6 months.
- You have to file your name change petition in the Circuit Court in the city or county you live in.
- The court requires that you affirm that your name change is not for fraudulently purposes and does not infringe on the rights of another person.
Steps to Change Your Last Name after Your Divorce Has Been Finalized:
- Complete the “Application for Name Change” provided by Virginia Circuit Courts
- Have the application notarized
- Be prepared to pay a filing fee
- Bring the following documents with you to file with the Virginia Circuit Court:
- Certified copy of your Birth Certificate
- Certified copy of your Marriage Certificate
- Official Final Decree of Divorce
- Driver’s License or other Government Issued ID
- File your Application for Name Change with the court clerk at the appropriate Virginia Circuit Court
The application for name change will ask for your basic information: name, date of birth, address, parents’ names, etc. In addition, there is a set of questions regarding any criminal activity to see if you have any felony convictions, are incarcerated, on probation, or are a registered sex offender.
If all of your documentation is in order and the court believes you are filing for a name change for a non-fraudulent reason (divorce in this case), the court will most likely approve your name change. In some cases, if a judge has any questions about your application, you may be asked to attend a hearing to have your application approved.
Where Do You Need to Change Your Name after Divorce?
After your last name is changed, you will need to officially change your name with any government agencies and other parties or affiliations that apply to you such as:
- Social Security
- The DMV (Driver’s License and Auto Registration)
- Your Passport
- Your Bank Accounts
- Your Credit Card Providers
- Your Employer
- Professional Certifications or Organizations
- Your Mortgage Lender, or Rental or Leasing Agent
- Medical Insurance Provider
- Auto Insurance Carrier
- Utility Companies (Electricity, Gas, Internet, Cable, etc.)
- Retirement Accounts
- Investment Accounts or any Other Financial Accounts
It is a very personal, sometimes difficult decision to change your name after divorce. For some, it may be an empowering act, symbolic of moving forward and starting a new chapter in life after divorce. For others, it may seem like an exhausting undertaking.
Either way, it’s best to take care of changing your name with the appropriate institutions, companies, and government agencies as soon as possible once your name change order is signed by a judge, to avoid any legal complications or confusion regarding your name.
Have Questions About Divorce Law in Virginia?
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