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Name Change After Divorce


When two people get married in America, very often the female changes her last name to that of the husbands. This trend originated from a very old custom in English common law.

Interestingly enough, however, this tradition wasn't based on gender. English common law held that a married couple would adopt the name of the person with more property. The obvious catch is, this was nearly always the male.

For most couples, the decision for the wife to change her name to the husband's is not a difficult one. What can be a much more difficult decision is what to do after a divorce.

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Maiden Name After Your Divorce

Once you have been married with a certain last name for years, even decades, it can seem nearly impossible to think of yourself with your maiden name again. There could be a liberated feeling if you chose to change your name back; you would be symbolically removing the remnants of your marriage, and freeing yourself from your ex's name.

Changing your name during a divorce is generally a straightforward process, but depends on your state's laws. Typically, as long as the name you wish to change to doesn't hurt anyone or defraud anyone, then you can adopt or assume any name you want, including reverting to your maiden name.

Just because it is easy to legally change your name after a divorce doesn't mean that this is the best bet for you. You may want to consider the impact a name change might have on your career, your children, and your own self-image before considering changing your name after divorce.

Name Change Options when Getting Married

In our society, it is becoming increasingly common for women to find alternatives to just fully taking on their husbands' surname. There are many options available to women who wish to find an alternative to taking their husbands' name. Below are just a few of the ways that you can tackle this issue.

  • Both retain their birth names. This is frequent for couples who meet after each has already established long histories around their names, such as when the wife has established a professional identity.
  • Both use the wife's family name. This might be a hard sell for the wife, but if it is brought up, it can help show the husband just how big a change it is for the woman to have to change her name. However, a man changing his name during marriage is often more difficult than it is for a woman to do so.
  • Both use hyphenated last names. The husband and wife may hyphenate their two names to create a single compound last name. They typically may go in whatever order sounds best to the couple.
  • Last names as middle names. Either both the husband and the wife or just the wife can incorporate the other's name as their middle name. This keeps the spirit of sharing a name alive, but still allows for the wife to legally retain her maiden name.
  • Create a new name. This one might also be a difficult sell, but it works for some people. It is a way for both parties to symbolically take the other's name without the paternalistic problems of using the males last name.

In general, you need to carefully evaluate where you are in life and what option is best for you, which may even be assuming your husband's name. But if you do, remember the to consider the pros and cons that can arise if you ever do wish to revert back to your maiden name.