Changing your name after a divorce is a personal decision. Some may want to go back to their maiden name as soon as possible, while others will assume the last name of their children. Some women have grown accustomed to their married name and do not wish to change it at all. Still others, after a difficult divorce, can’t wait to adopt an entirely new identity. Whatever your motivations for changing your or your child’s name after a divorce, an experienced family law attorney can ensure this process is done quickly and correctly.
Common Law Name Changes
Although California recognizes a “common law name change,” which can be done simply by switching to your new (or old) name and using it exclusively, you will not be able to have any official government documents modified with this “usage method.” The forms and procedures for legally and officially changing your or your child’s name will depend on your individual circumstances.
Going Back to Your Maiden Name (or Other Name) After Divorce
If you are getting divorced and would like to begin using your maiden name again, you can usually have this included in your divorce proceedings, without filing a separate petition for change of name. You may also revert to any other previously used name, such as a surname from a previous marriage. In most cases, a copy of your final divorce decree is the only documentation necessary to update most official documents, like your driver’s license.
However, if you would like to change your name to something you haven’t used before, you will need to file a petition for change of name. You will also need to publish your proposed name change in a local newspaper for at least four weeks. You will not be able to update any official documents to reflect your new name, including your birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license, and passport until your petition has been granted.
Changing Your Child’s Name
If your divorce, child custody, or child support case is still ongoing, you can request a change of name for your child as part of the final judgment. If these orders have already been finalized, you will need to file a petition for change of name. You must notify your former spouse of the proposed name change. The child’s other parent has the option to agree to the name change or to oppose your request. You will be given a court date and a judge will decide whether to grant your request.
Domestic Abuse Victims
If you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual abuse, or stalking, you may be able to keep your new identity confidential. If you testified against your spouse or anyone else in a qualifying criminal court case, you may also qualify for protection under the State Witness Program. Your child’s name change may also be kept confidential if necessary. For assistance assuming a new identity for personal safety reasons, reach out to a family law attorney.
Orange County Family Law Attorneys
If you need assistance changing your name or your child’s name after a divorce, contact the experienced attorneys at R & S Law Group, LLP.