Many women (and some men) take their partner’s last name when they get married or add that name (hyphenated or not) to their own. If you did that and are now divorcing, you need to make a choice about whether to return to your previous name or keep your married name.
Before you decide, it’s wise to consider a number of factors that could influence your plans. How long have you had your married name? Would it be confusing or even disadvantageous professionally to return to your previous name? How do you feel about carrying around your ex’s name for the rest of your life? Which name do you like better? Do you have children with your married last name? Ultimately, it’s a deeply personal choice.
What forms and notifications do you need?
It’s typically easy to return to your maiden or previous name as you divorce. Here in North Carolina, you’ll complete a form to resume your former name. You want to be sure that your divorce decree has the name on it that you’ll be using going forward.
You’ll use that divorce decree as evidence of your name change when changing your Social Security number, driver’s license, passport, bank accounts, your employer’s records and elsewhere.
Can you change your children’s last name?
Most people don’t try to change their children’s last names after divorce. Typically, both parents have to agree to a name change. There might be extenuating circumstances.
For example, if the father was involved in a high-profile crime or was abusive to the children, the mother might want to change her children’s last names as she takes back her maiden name. This can help them avoid embarrassment and unwanted attention later and help them heal from trauma. If a parent asks a judge to change their children’s names, they’ll look at what’s in their best interests.
Only you can decide what’s best for you regarding your name as you divorce. There will be some red tape no matter what you decide, so you just need to do what’s best for you and your family.