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Do You Have to Change Your Name When You Get Divorced?

Many things change for a person who gets divorced: marital status, financial situation, and relationships with children to name a few.  Another thing that might change is the person’s last name.  While in comparison to moving, having less time with kids, and having to divide most of your assets, changing a last name might not seem like a big deal, for many people actually faced with the situation, it is.

There are many reasons why people who are getting divorced decide to keep their married last name.  It is important for people to know that whatever the reason you want to change or decide not to change your last name name, it is up to you.  It is not mandatory for a person to change their married name upon dissolution of marriage.  Here are a few of the reasons people choose not to change their married last names:

  • Keeping the same name as your kids. Some people are worried about how changing their last name will affect their kids.  They worry about how to address their holiday cards, whether they will have trouble checking their kids out of school, and whether it will be another adjustment that their kids have to make.
  • Maintain professional relationships and reputation. Many people’s names are a valuable asset to them.  It is how they are known to customers, coworkers, clients, and potential employers.  Changing your name may affect peoples’ ability to get a hold of you.  This is especially true if you use your last name as part of your email address.  As silly as it may sound, a change in email address can have a big impact on your financial future.  If clients, customers, or potential employers don’t have the right email address for you, you can only imagine how many business opportunities you may miss.  The longer someone has been known at work by their married name, the more there is at stake if they decide to change it.
  • Avoiding the trouble of changing everything to your new (or former) name. As mentioned above, many people have their last names tied to their email accounts. It can be difficult (or impossible) to ensure that you update everyone with your new email address.  In addition to an email address, you will also have to update bank accounts, creditors and debtors, government agencies, name plaques, telephone and utility companies, business cards, and more.  It can be a burdensome (and expensive) process.

It is unlikely that the choice to change your name would impact your legal case, but it will affect your life.  Fortunately, you don’t have to make the decision at the time of your divorce.  If you decide to wait and see if you want to change your name back to your pre-marriage name, you can do so.  That said, for people that choose to wait to change their name until after the dissolution is final, there will be an additional procedure and usually an additional court fee.

If you would like to speak with a Seattle area attorney about ending your marriage or another family law issue, please contact us today.