Zara Khan

WHP - White Hat Communications
Chicago, IL

    Reclaiming Your Identity After Divorce – Reverting To Your Maiden Name

    April 21, 2017

    Divorce is a pivotal point in your life. After years of living with another person and making all decisions as a partnership, you are now stepping out on your own. With all this new freedom you may find yourself weighed down by the responsibilities of carrying everything alone, but you can embrace the change and move forward. As part of that you may find yourself wanting to draw a line in the sand and separate yourself from your ex-spouse by changing your name.

    In Texas,you need a few documents before you can legally change your name. Importantly you will need a copy of the divorce decree. Sometimes your divorce decree will include a provision for changing your name, and in other cases you may have to liaise with your divorce attorney to insure it is include. If you cannot get the documents amended, you can still change your name by following the usual adult name change petition processes.

    In either case you will need proof of your age, and identification. If you need to go through a name change petition, you will have to provide fingerprints approved by the state. Your documents will to be witnessed by a notary and you will need to swear and sign that the information in your name change petition is true and accurate (to the best of your knowledge). Texas required that you state that the request to change your name is both beneficial to you, and in the public interest.

    Once you have successfully changed your name, you are responsible for contacting all relevant agencies, ranging from Social Security, to your cable company, to your employer. Confirming your changed name with the Social Security Office first will give you extra documentation to work with and streamline all your conversations moving forward.

    Aside from the legal considerations, you may also want to consider the social impacts of changing you name. If you have children from your marriage they may have taken the father’s name. While there is nothing inherently wrong with having your last name not match your children’s, it can lead to some frustrating and uncomfortable conversations when filling in forms, enrolling them in schools and signing as their guardian.

    Previously courts would automatically rule that the children should keep the father’s name if he continued to be actively involved in parenting and raising them. However this has changed of late and there may be a different outcome in your divorce proceedings. The ability to change your child’s name will be discussed during the divorce proceedings and will always be considered in the best interests of the child, for example if they have an extremely turbulent relationship with their father, or if there is a need to develop a strong bond with you as their mother. Even if your child’s name is changed to match yours, this will not invalidate the fathers bonds.

    Changing your name after a divorce can be a weighty decision requiring lots of thought and paperwork, however the benefits may heavily outweigh the costs in allowing you to reclaim your sense of self and move forward with your life.

    Read Zara's other blog entries >

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