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How to Change Your Last Name After a Divorce

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Divorce is fundamentally a process of change. You separate from your spouse, perhaps move into a new apartment, divide all your assets, and - in some cases - even your friends. Your relationship with your former in-laws changes and, if you have kids, you learn how to parent across two separate households.

All these changes can be difficult and exhausting, but they can also be a way of reclaiming parts of yourself and discovering new ones. As a part of those changes, many people decide that they want to reclaim their former name or adopt a new last name entirely.

Reverting to Your Former Name Before Your Divorce Is Finalized

Changing your last name post-divorce is not as daunting as it may seem. In fact, during the divorce proceedings, you can request the judge to restore your former name. This would be included in the final divorce decree, making the process quite straightforward.

While filing out the final set of forms for your divorce, you will check the following:

  • Item #12 of the Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation (form FL-170)
  • Item #4(f) of the Judgment (form FL-180), and write in the name, including the first, middle, and last name to which you want to return.

You will want to get certified copies of the Judgement to serve as your legal proof of name change that you will submit to other agencies like the Social Security Administration.

Reverting to Your Former Name After Your Divorce Is Finalized

Many people experience decision fatigue during divorce and are understandably not yet certain if they want to change their name while the divorce is ongoing. Others may change their mind about keeping their married name after their divorce is finalized.

If this happens to you, you can still revert to your former name relatively easily as part of the same family law case.

To do so, you will need to do the following:

  • Find your case number, name, and county where the case was filed
  • Fill out Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (form FL-395)
  • Send in the form to the court where your divorce was filed with any required fees

Once your form has been signed by the judge and returned to you, you will want to get certified copies made to use as proof of your name change.

Changing to an Entirely New Name

If you want to change your name to an entirely new name rather than any former name you have had, you will need to follow another, somewhat more involved process.

Here are the steps:

File a Petition for a Name Change

Start by filling out several forms, including:

  • Petition for Change of Name (form NC-100)
  • Name and Information about the Person Whose Name is to be Changed (form NC-110) (and attach it to the NC-100)
  • Order to Show CauseChange of Name (form NC-120)
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet (form CM-010) (some courts do not require this form)
  • Decree Changing Name Form (form NC-130) (fill out the boxes at the top and Item 3)

File the Petition

Once the petition is filled out, file it at your local California Superior Court. There may be a filing fee, but fee waivers are available for those who qualify.

Publication of the Order to Show Cause

In most cases, the court will require you to publish the 'Order to Show Cause for Change of Name' in a newspaper for four weeks. This step allows anyone who might have a valid objection to your name change to come forward.

Attend a Court Hearing

After the publication period, you may need to attend a court hearing where the judge will decide whether to grant your name change. If no one has raised a valid objection, and the judge finds good cause for the change, you'll receive a 'Decree Changing Name.'

After Your Name is Legally Changed

After your name change has been approved, it's time to notify all relevant parties.

This may include:

  • Social Security Administration
  • Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Passport agency
  • Post Office
  • Employer
  • Banks
  • Creditors
  • Insurance providers
  • Medical providers
  • Schools or alma maters
  • Utility companies
  • Landlord
  • Professional licensing boards
  • Voter registration office
  • Clubs and memberships
  • Online accounts

This list is not exhaustive, and it’s important to remember it may take some time to contact all the relevant parties. Even if the process can seem involved at times, you will eventually get to enjoy your new name and all it represents for you.

How Gille Kaye Law Group, P.C. Can Help

The process of changing your name after a divorce can be a significant step towards starting a new chapter in your life. At Gille Kaye Law Group, P.C., we're here to support you through this transition. Our experienced team can guide you through each step, ensuring that you understand your rights and options.

We understand that a name is more than just a label; it's part of your identity. Whether you choose to revert to your maiden name or adopt a new one entirely, we want you to feel it's a choice that feels right and represents you authentically.

Don't hesitate to contact us online or call us at (626) 340-0955 for any questions or concerns you might have regarding this process.

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