Getting divorced brings lots of changes. A change in residence for one or both of you, a parenting schedule you never had, newfound free time, dating for the first time in years (decades for some!), financial changes, going back to work perhaps, and if you choose: your name. Should you change your name back after divorce?
Every divorce is different, and there is no right or wrong answer. Some people keep their married name forever, some change back, and some people change from husband number one to husband number two. (Not judging, by the way, just sayin'.)
The first piece of advice I want to give that might prove to be VERY helpful is, IF YOU ARE GETTING DIVORCED, MAKE SURE THAT YOUR DIVORCE DECREE GIVES YOU THE OPTION OF CHANGING YOUR NAME BACK TO YOUR MAIDEN NAME.
I recently met two women who both told me they had been divorced for a long time. Neither one changed their name back, and it wasn't because they didn't want to. They both stated that their attorneys didn't put the option in their decrees. So, now, if they want to change their name back, they have to get an amendment to their divorce decree, which means spending more money on attorney fees and a court appearance. Make sure to tell your attorney to put a clause in your decree that gives you the right to change back. You may never use it, but isn't nice to have the option?
So, should you change your name back? Consider these things:
Some women don't want to have a different name than their kids, which is understandable. But, I don't think that should inhibit anyone from changing their name back. If you change back to your maiden name, and your kids' friends call you Mrs. So and So, you don't have to correct a third grader and say, "I'm sorry, can you please call me Ms. Maiden?" Just don't say anything. Allow them to call you Mrs. So and So. What's so bad about that? It's like if you are Jewish and someone says "Merry Christmas." Why correct them? Just accept the sentiment and move on.
2. What's the REASON you are changing your name back?
I know a woman who was so bitter and hateful against her ex, that she became obsessed with changing her name back. It's like she thought her old name would help her get as far away from her ex as she could. Well, guess what? If you have kids, nothing will pull you away from having to deal with your ex. So, don't change your name back because your ex disgusts you. Find other ways to deal with your hate and bitterness.
If you do it, do it because YOU want that name back. I did it because I LOVE my name and I LOVE my father and I wanted his name back. Incidentally, I was divorced for several years before I actually changed back. There's no rush. Wait until you are ready and the time is right for you. If that never happens, that's okay, too!
3. Your profession
Are you going back to work? Let's say that before you were married and had kids, you were the top sales representative for an ad agency, and you have made a name for yourself, only that name is your old name. If you are returning to that industry, don't you want people to recognize your name?
4. Do you feel more comfortable with your married name?
I know so many women who get divorced and keep their married name. If you just feel comfortable and this is how people in your community know you, and you wish to stay that way, than you have the right to keep it. No one should judge that.
5. Are you just lazy or you feel too busy to change?
I feel I owe it to you to tell you, I changed back about 6 months ago, and it was soooo not a big deal. It's two trips: one to the driver's license place, where you don't have to take a test, AND you get a new picture (bonus!), and one to the social security office. After that, it's a bunch of phone calls to utility companies, and you can take all the time you need to make those calls. A few places make you send in a copy of the page of your decree that states you can change your name back, but again, no biggie. In fact, you will find yourself so excited about your new name, you'll just do it. It won't be a chore.
I don't want to sound like I am trying to convince anyone to change her name back. It's a personal choice, and you are entitled to do whatever you wish.
In closing, just remember this. No matter what name you have, you are you, and your initials, your signature, and what name people refer to you as makes so little difference in the big picture. What does make a huge difference is what's in your core, what's in your heart, and what you give to the world.
Sincerely (and legally)
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of the comedic novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE, about life after divorce. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter for the Pioneer Press, with the monthly column, "Heart of the North Shore." She lives in Chicago with her two kids. And she's divorced (obviously.)
Content concerning legal matters is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon in making legal decisions or assessing your legal risks. Always consult a licensed attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction before taking any course of action that may affect your legal rights.
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