While it’s no longer a constant, many women still change their surnames when they marry. If you do so and you later divorce, are you stuck with that name?
Not at all. There are a few things, however, that you need to consider:
Should you keep your married name?
It’s largely a matter of preference. Some women want to make it clear that they’ve moved on and simply don’t want the association with their ex-spouse in any way. Others have built a career for themselves and want to keep their married names. (Music icon Tina Turner, for example, famously insisted on keeping her married name after her divorce from her abusive ex-husband because she had earned significant recognition under it.)
Some women also decide to keep their married surnames because they have children with that last name. They don’t like the idea of not sharing a name with their children or dealing with intrusive questions.
When can you change your married name?
Ideally, you should try to make the decision to go back to a previous surname before your divorce is final. If you do so, the order changing your name can be included in your divorce decree. Once the decree is final, you then need to your driver’s license and other documents and records.
If you don’t make the decision to go back to a previous surname until after you divorce, changing your name is still possible. It’s not particularly difficult, but you have to go through a separate court process — which means additional time, effort and expense.
While you ultimately have to make this decision yourself — because there are few things more personal than the name you bear — an attorney can help you better understand your options during your divorce.