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How do I change my name?

Changing your name, either after a marriage or after a divorce, has become a bit of a hot-button issue in our society as of late. While it has been traditional for women to take on their husbands' surnames after marriage, there has been a cultural shift in the last couple of decades. Now, many women choose to retain their own surnames after marriage, and in some cases, the partners choose to both change their names to a hyphenated combination.

Changing your name after a divorce is no less controversial, and you're likely to get a different opinion from each person you talk to. While there may be more pressure in certain areas or families for a woman to return to her maiden name after a divorce, there are some considerations to keep in mind.

If you changed your name after marriage, you already know that it can take considerable time and effort. You usually have to go to the local Social Security Administration office in person to get your name legally changed there, and then you can take your new Social Security card and marriage and divorce documents to get a new state ID. Once you have a Social Security card and an ID with the updated name, you'll need to go through and update your name with the post office, all of your banking and lending institutions, employer and any other applicable state and federal agencies.

If the marriage resulted in children, you may want to consider if you would like to retain your married name so that it is the same as your children to avoid confusion at school or day care. However, with divorced or never married parents becoming more common in society, this is less of an issue than in past decades.

Source: FindLaw, "Changing Your Name after Marriage," accessed Oct. 01, 2015

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