What documents do I need?
You are always asked to show proof of your name change when updating your name with agencies and many other organizations. It's easiest to get an order restoring your former name as part of your divorce, even if you're not certain you will change names immediately. Most states won't issue this after your divorce is finalized. If you didn't request a name change order when divorcing or if you want a different name there are other options.
Change names as part of your divorce
It is best to ask the judge for an order restoring your former name while you are in the process of divorcing. Some states can issue the order while you are in the process of divorcing. If not, you'll need to wait until it's all finalized. There is no additional petition or filing fee. This process only allows you to go back to your former name, so if you want a different name then you need a legal name change order.
An order restoring your former name states your full married and former names. Your state may instead issue a divorce decree that lists both old and new names which can be used as proof of your name change.
Changing names after you divorce
If you don't have a divorce order that lists both your married and former names then you have three possible options:
- Return to your court and ask if a name change order can be issued. You may be asked to file a modification to your petition. States like California allow this, however you would only be allowed to return to your former name.
- Check with your state DMV to see if they allow you to return to your former name by presenting a divorce order. Many states allow this, in which case start by updating the SSA, then go onto change names with the DMV, then everywhere else.
- If neither of the above options are allowed then you need to file for a legal name change.
Changing names before you divorce
You can't get an order restoring your former name before applying for a divorce, but you may be eligible to apply for a legal name change. The benefit of a legal name change is that you are not limited to only your former name, although this is an option too. Applicants need to file a legal name change petition which may cost anywhere from $25 to over $500 depending on your state and financial circumstances. Processing times can be anywhere from a few weeks to 6 months, so check current processing times with your local court. It is best to have your legal name change finalized before applying for divorce as a name change could complicate legal proceedings.
Then update your records
No matter which way you go, chances are you'll need to update your records with 20 to 30 different organizations. An Easy Name Change kit will help. We provide all the paperwork necessary. We cover all state and federal agencies plus hundreds more companies! Simply attach your court order and send!
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