After finalizing a divorce, many women who have taken their husband’s last name face the decision of whether they would like to change it back to their maiden name. Some women view this as another step in moving past their divorce, as it allows them to receive closure by shedding their husband’s name.
Other women develop more of an emotional attachment to the name. They may have had it for decades at this point, so they view it as their own, separate from any association it has with their ex-husband. The presence of children from the marriage can further complicate the question.
Divorces are an emotionally trying experience for children because the process can destabilize the kids’ lives. In some cases, a parental name change can exacerbate those issues. Fortunately, this decision does not need to be made immediately following the divorce, so people have time to weigh their options.
The Process of Changing Your Name
If people do choose to change their name, there is a five-step process that they should follow to accomplish it smoothly.
First, they must make sure that their judgment for the dissolution of marriage provides the option to return to the use of their maiden name. While this decision must be made when the divorce is being finalized, it makes sense to include this provision even if the person is not sure they want to change their name. The provision does not mandate the change; it only provides the option to change in the future. If the judgment does not allow for a name change, then the court may be willing to amend it. If not, then the person must file a petition for a name change with the court.
Second, once a person makes the decision to change their name, they must get two certified copies of their judgment for the dissolution of marriage. These copies are available from the County Clerk’s office.
Third, the person can apply for an updated Social Security card with a new name. In order to do this they will need to submit proof of their identity, such as a driver’s license, a document proving their citizenship, such as a birth certificate, and the judgment for the dissolution of marriage.
Fourth, the person must apply for a new driver’s license. This requires some document that gives evidence of a person’s signature along with a document that can prove either the person’s date of birth, social security number, or address, as well as some document to link the old and new information, such as the judgment for the dissolution of marriage. The full list of qualifying documents may be found on the Secretary of State’s website under the heading of Duplicate/Corrected Driver’s License.
The final step in executing a name change is updating private entities. This involves contacting banks, employers, utility companies, and other non-governmental bodies. Each of these organizations will have their own processes for updating a person’s name.
Contact a DuPage County Attorney for Help
If you are considering filing for divorce or have other questions about the practicalities of the process, contact a DuPage County divorce lawyer today. Our experienced team can help you understand the complex proceedings.