Separation Name Change
You may change names without being divorced, however, the process can be tricky and time-consuming. When you were married you simply showed your marriage certificate and assumed use of your husband's surname. Unfortunately the process to go back to your former name is unfairly more bureaucratic.
Request an order restoring your former name
If your divorce is currently with the court you should ask that an order to restore your former name is issued before your divorce is finalized however not all states allow this. If you are unable to get your name changed before your divorce is finalized you may consider following the name correction process with the SSA, explained further down the page. Some organizations may insist on a legal name change order. Keep in mind, a legal name change can cost over $500 and take months in some states, so you may be best to wait. (continued)
In the unlikley event you decide to legally change names, file a petition with the clerk of county court where you reside. Filing fees vary significantly between states so contact your county court directly to ask about filing fees and processing times. Some states will be able to hear your case on the spot, others may need you to wait 3 months or longer to be heard. Usually the judge signs an order restoring your former name (or any other name of your choosing) at the hearing. You may be asked to return at a later date to collect the order.
Or request a name correction
If you did not request an order restoring your former name or are not yet divorced, you can request a name correction with the SSA. The process is exactly the same as a SSA name change application, but may be lesser known by SSA staff. Complete the SS5 application for a Social Security Card form. The SSA allow a name correction where you have a subsequent name change following a relationship event such as civil union, marriage, or domestic partnership.
Or wait for your divorce to be finalized
If you are in the process of divorcing it may be quicker, cheaper and less complicated to wait until your divorce is finalized. Ask the judge to issue an order restoring your former name as part of your divorce proceedings. This court order is universally accepted as proof of name change. In the event you don't request this order, you may still change names with just your divorce decree and proof of your name being corrected by the SSA, but some agencies may make this difficult as a court ordered name change is one of the proof documents most often requested by companies. See our section on divorce name change for more information.
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