As part of a petition for dissolution of marriage, a petitioner may ask that the court order that his or her name be changed. In many cases, this request is made by a woman asking that her name be restored to her pre-marriage name. For some, especially those without children and those dissolving a marriage that is shorter in duration, the decision is easy. They have left the marriage and would like a fresh start without a constant reminder of their now-ending marriage.
In other cases, especially after longer marriages and those involving children, the decision is more difficult. Some people have built a professional reputation with their married name and have to consider how a name change may affect their professional life. Furthermore, if you share your name with your children, there are more issues a parent must consider. The child and/or parent may feel that the continuation of the shared name provides some sense of stability in an otherwise rapidly changing set of circumstances.
In addition to concerns about professional reputation and children, many clients also choose to keep their married name because they don’t want to go through the hassle of changing their name. In addition to the court ordering (via the decree) that your name be changed, there are additional steps. A person must change their name with the Department of Licensing, the Social Security Administration, their financial institutions, etc. It can be a time-consuming process.
Some of our past clients have chosen to keep (or change) their names, and later changed their minds. Fortunately, there is a way to change your name even after the decree of dissolution is entered. Although it is a more complicated and time intensive process than just making it part of the divorce, for many of the undecided it offers the welcome option of making one less decision during the divorce process.