Many people would like to “wipe the slate clean” after a divorce and change their names as a part of getting started with their new identity. Many years ago, all a person had to do was begin calling themselves by a new name, but today there are a number of processes you have to go through to make sure that name change is completely legal and recognized.
Generally, you are allowed to go back to using any name you previously used, such as a maiden name or the name of a previous spouse. If you wish, you can also hyphenate your current and previous last names.
As long as you have filed the proper paperwork in your divorce case, the name change process is relatively simple. You may request that the judge officially change your name as part of the terms of the divorce. All you need to do is tell the judge which name you wish to use moving forward at your final hearing, and include that name in your divorce decree. Once the judge signs the decree and the divorce is official, obtain several certified copies from the court clerk. These copies contain a seal, so you have proof they are legally binding.
If your divorce has already been finalized, you may still petition the court for a name change. To do this, you must file a petition for name change with the court and pay a filing fee. You must verify with the court that you are not changing your name to hide from any legal responsibilities, such as child support. You will also be required to submit your fingerprints and consent to a criminal background check.
Once you have officially changed your name, make sure other government agencies with your official records are made aware of the change. You should also contact insurance agencies, retirement plan administrators and banks, if necessary.
For strong legal guidance before, during and after a divorce, contact a trusted Jacksonville attorney today.
Attorney Andrea Combs Jevic contributed to this blog post.