Making Your Name Change Legal After A Marriage Or Divorce


Many individuals will want to make a name change because of a marriage or divorce. Although it can be a lengthy process in some cases, name changes are usually simple and easy. That being said, it helps if you get started on it right away. The longer you take to make a name change, the more time and money is required to do so. In this article I will be discussing how to change your name after getting married or divorced.

The name change process after a marriage or divorce requires a little bit of preparation from you beforehand. Before going through the process, you should make sure to have these three documents in your possession:

  • Marriage License
  • Driver’s License
  • Social Security Card

The marriage license is the most important piece of documentation you will need, as signing this piece of paper will officially change your name. Your driver’s license and social security card are equally important, as these are the most common forms of identification. Getting these updated should have priority over others.┬áTo change the name on your social security card, you will have to fill out a SS-5 form and take it to your local social security office. To update your driver’s license, you will have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and update it. The requirements depend on the state; Some DMVs only need your marriage certificate while others need the marriage certificate along with other forms of documentation. Make sure to check with your local DMV to see the exact requirements.

Changing Your Name After Getting Married

The name changing process is quite easy. In most states and localities, all you need is your marriage license. You should be able to obtain a copy of your marriage license from the county in which you were married. When you sign your marriage license, it will have both your maiden name and your married name on it. After the name change is official, you should start notifying everyone that your name has changed. Letting friends and family know of your name change is as simple as telling them, but for places such as financial institutions and utility companies, you will generally have to fill out a form and provide documentation letting them know of the official name change. As stated earlier in this article, make sure that you have your driver’s license and social security both updated to your new name before attempting to change your name on other legal documentation, as they generally require a copy of one of the two. You should make changes on all of your official documents, such as:

  • Passports
  • Bank Accounts
  • Post Office
  • Credit/Debit Cards
  • Utility Providers
  • Insurance Providers
  • Gym Membership
  • Doctor/Dentist

Because each step in the name change process can take several weeks, it’s best to begin as early as possible, especially if you’ll need a new form of identification for something urgent that’s coming up.

Changing Your Name After Getting Divorced

Changing your name back to your maiden name after getting a divorce depends on the situation, but in most cases is pretty easy. If your divorce is finalized and contains a court order about your name change, that serves as an official record of your name change. In this case you would simply get a certified copy of the court order as proof of the name restoration. Again, remember to update your driver’s license and social security before changing your name on other forms of documentation.

If your divorce is finalized and does not have a court order to change your name, you should check to see whether you can request a name change from the court. This generally depends on what state you live in. If the state you live in does not allow you to change your name back after the divorce was finalized, you’ll most likely still be able to change your name, although the process will be a little more lengthy and involve more paperwork. If you have older documentation with your old name on it, then you shouldn’t have much of a problem. As always, make sure to check your state’s divorce laws.

The process starts to become a little more tricky if you’re not officially divorced. If your divorce is not yet finalized you can still request for your former name to be restored. Whether you can even make this request entirely depends on which state you live in. That being said, even if your request is granted certain documents such as your driver’s license cannot be changed until the divorce is finalized.

Common Questions

The name changing process after a marriage/divorce can be confusing at times. Here are some common questions asked during the process.

Can I Change My Child’s Name After A Divorce?

Depends on the court. If the child is a biological child of the mother/father then the answer is usually no, especially if they are still very much involved in the child’s life. However, some jurisdictions are more sympathetic and now leave it up to the child (provided they are old enough to make a decision) to decide if they want to change to their mother’s maiden name instead when a divorce is finalized. This also applies for if you were to remarry and want to change your child’s last name to your spouse’s last name.

Can I Change My Last Name To Something Other Than My Spouse’s Last Name?

Changing your name after marriage to something other than your spouse’s name is completely acceptable. In this case, however, it almost always requires more paperwork than just your marriage license. It varies depending on the state you live in but generally involves filling out a name change form in addition to the marriage license. I recommend you check your state government website to check the state’s laws on the topic.

Does It Cost Anything To Change My Name?

Changing your name is more expensive than you may think. As a matter of fact, changing your name has a lot of hidden costs associated with it. Requesting copies of all the legal paperwork that is required to change your name will most likely cost you a fee. Not to mention notary and court fees. Changing names on your passport, licence, etc may also incur a fee.

Is The Process Different For Same-Sex Couples?

As of June 2015, same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. Therefore, the process of chainging your name should be the same as heterosexual couples. If you are married to or planning to divorce someone of the same sex, you should follow the same steps above to achieve your goal.

Do I Have To Change My Name After A Marriage/Divorce?

No, you do not have to change your name after you get married nor do you have to change it back after a divorce. When you get married/divorced you are welcome to keep your current name. Some people do this for various reasons, such as not wanting to deal with getting all of the paperwork or maybe they have grown accustomed to their current name.


Changing your name after a marriage/divorce takes time and patience, not to mention preparedness ahead of time on your part. It’s important to do it right and have everything in order to prevent any problems down the road.