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Changing Your Last Name After Divorce

Many women adopt their husband’s name after marrying. Increasingly, same-sex couples are also adopting a new last name when they marry. However, when deciding to divorce, these individuals face the question of whether they want to return to the name they had before getting married.

Should You Go Back to Your Old Name?

Many factors influence whether you want to change your name after divorce. For example, you might want to keep your married name if you have children and wish to have the same last name as they do. By keeping the name, you can avoid confusion that you are the child’s parent.

Other individuals do not want the hassle of contacting banks, lenders, schools, and other institutions to notify them of a name change. Having gone through the process once, they are not eager to engage in the process another time. Accordingly, they decide not to change their name.

Conversely, some individuals are anxious to get on with their lives and wish to sever any connection to their ex. For them, changing their last name is an empowering decision that signifies psychological freedom. Happily, they can ask the court to change their name and begin using their new name even before the court approves it.

Each person is different and should consider what works best for them. Remember that you cannot change your name as part of a scheme to defraud someone, such as your creditors, or to avoid criminal prosecution.

How to Change Your Last Name

N.J. Statute 2A:34-21 specifically provides that the judge can include a name change as part of your divorce decree. You can resume using your maiden name or even any other last name. If you know that you want to change your last name when you file for divorce, you should include a request in your divorce paperwork. This might be the easiest way to go about it.

If you want to change your surname at a later date, then you can file a post judgment motion with the court requesting permission from the court to change your name. Depending on where you live, you might need to go into court to answer the judge’s questions. In some places, you can submit sworn statements explaining why you want to change your name. There should be small fee to file this motion.

No One Can Force You to Change

No matter how much your spouse wants you to change your name, the decision is yours. Your spouse cannot prevent you from changing your name after divorce, nor can your spouse force you to change your name.

Speak with a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer

People going through divorce often have many legal questions. To receive the proper answer, make sure that you meet with a qualified divorce lawyer in New Jersey. For example, some parents want to change their children’s names after divorce, which is a different process from the one described above.

To schedule your consultation with Elena K. Weitz, attorney at law, please contact her today. She has helped numerous husbands and wives through the divorce process and is here to help you, too.