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ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

How would someone get their maiden name back after a divorce?

Asked by ItalianPrincess1217 (11979points) December 14th, 2011 from iPhone

When I signed the marriage certificate I took my ex husband’s last name but I never “used” it. I never changed my social security card, drivers license, etc. I never even signed his last name. The marriage was over before it even began. After a divorce, how do people get their maiden name back? If I never switched any important documents, does it even matter?

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31 Answers

whitetigress's avatar

Gotta go to your states website and look for the legal documents then present it in case.

WestRiverrat's avatar

As you didn’t changed your name on any of your legal documents, you won’t have to pay to change them back. If you have any creditors that know you only by your married name, you probably should notify them.

Other than that, check with your clerk of courts office, or better yet your attorney.

Dog's avatar

In the divorce documents simply petition the judge that your legal name revert to your maiden name. It is granted along with the divorce.

Bellatrix's avatar

You should be fine. You didn’t take his name by the sound of it. You continued to use your own. Had you adopted his name and put legal documents in that name (driver’s licence, passport etc.), you could have to legally change your name back to your maiden name. I had to do that after my first marriage.

JLeslie's avatar

So the marriage certificate you signed with your married name? When I got married, but not in the same state as you, I signed all of my marriage documents with my maiden name, because legally I was still my maiden name. Or, so I thought. Then later I changed all my cards, SS, driver’s license etc.

It seems to me if you haven’t changed anything you still are your maiden name. You might need to list your married nake as an AKA on documents.

The lawyer who did the divorce should have asked you about your name. Most people take care of the name change thing, as part of all the divorce documents I think. I know my SIL’s divorce lawyer asked her about it.

Honestly, I think it is odd that there needs to be legal paperwork stamped by a judge for a woman to change her name back to her maiden name. It’s not like you stop being that person. It is always an AKA even if she uses her married name the rest of her life. Both are her name. I’m sure every state is different.

Bellatrix's avatar

I thought that too @JLeslie (that my maiden name is my name and I should be able to revert to it) but legally, I was now known by my married name. So, even though I had my birth certificate and marriage and divorce paperwork to prove who I was, when I went to get a passport in my maiden name I had to go through the legal name change process. I had changed my driver’s licence and other things over, but not my passport. This is in Australia of course, it may be totally different in the US. I think the process in Australia only changed in the last 10 years too. Prior to that you could revert back easily I think.

JLeslie's avatar

@Bellatrix Yeah, it seems in at least Florida it is the same deal, you have to legally change your name back. At least that was the case 10 years ago in that state.

Travel can be tricky. My MIL has her Mexican Passport with her maiden name. Her American Driver’s license and Green Card are her married name. I wonder if that is a problem now? Recently the airlines are very strict about making reservations with your name as it appears on your ID, so including middle names. I guess she books using her passport info, but she has to show her green card coming back into America I would think?

Dog's avatar

As I mentioned in my answer above, it is easy and free to do in your divorce. It is simply added to the document that petitions for divorce as a note. It is part of the dissolution.
I know from experience that it really is that easy.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dog The OP is already divorced.

I thought what you said too, that is why I find it odd the lawyer did not ask her about it. Maybe he did and she didn’t realize?

@ItalianPrincess1217 Did your divorce lawyer ask you if you ever started using your married name? Maybe you didn’t realize he was trying to figure out if he needed to add it into the documents? Did you sign your divorce with your maiden name?

Bellatrix's avatar

I didn’t think about it when I got divorced though @Dog. There was no reason to use a lawyer in our case and my name change didn’t really come up until I wanted a passport. I hope you can sort it out easily anyway @ItalianPrincess1217. It wasn’t horrendously expensive here. More annoying than anything.

JLeslie's avatar

@Bellatrix It isn’t very expensive here either if she needs to do it, just annoying. I still think she never became her married name. She never used it.

Bellatrix's avatar

I agree. So here, it wouldn’t matter. I am married but I now use my own name for everything. I haven’t adopted my partner’s name at all so there is no need for me to ever go through that again. Not that I am planning to get divorced but once bitten, twice shy!!

JLeslie's avatar

@Bellatrix Could you change everything to your married name with your marriage certificate? That’s what I don’t get, I can change my name to my married name with the marriage certificate, but not back with it? It’s weird.

Bellatrix's avatar

Yes! Exactly! Makes me so cranky.

This is from the passport office. You can only change your name on your passport by providing an RBDM marriage certificate. You may be entitled to a replacement passport free of charge when applying for a name change due to marriage if your passport was valid when you were married and your application to change your family name is lodged within 12 months of your wedding date (a priority processing fee may still apply)

They have changed the policy again too. You can change back, for free in some instances, as long as you do it within a year. A year later I was still trying to find my feet and work out what the heck I was doing. What I was called was not heavily weighing on my mind. And why only within a year? Are you less divorced after 12 months! Bureaucracy!

JLeslie's avatar

@Bellatrix Yeah, and everything big and legal like has space for maiden and AKA. When you buy a house the documents have all the names someone is known by, I assume in Australia as well. Obviously, the passport people would know all names attached to that passport number, and social security. When we run our credit it shows all names. We could probably bitch about it for a while haha, but that doesn’t help the OP with her question.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@JLeslie It was brought up by me in the divorce but because I didn’t have an attorney and he did, a lot was overlooked. His attorney really wouldn’t tell me how to go about changing my name back. It was very frustrating but I wanted it to be over sooner than later so I let a lot slide. As far as passports or having trouble traveling, I never changed my passport either. It still has my maiden name, along with my drivers license, and soc security card. I signed my married name during the divorce but never any other time. I do remember when we filled out the marriage certificate paperwork I said I would be taking his last name.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t think you need to change anything then. You are known by your maiden name.

JLeslie's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 If I were you I would call or go down to the county courthouse, or wherever you would get the forms to change your name, and ask if you need to do it. That is if you are worried about it. All your ID’s are maiden name, so anything you would ever do you have ID for. I guess technically the only question is if you need to list the married name as an AKA on legal documents, so you are disclosing everything necessary if you sign something saying you filled it in to the best of your knowledge. All the lawyers I know are not in NY, or I would ask a friend for you.

I wonder if his attorney felt it was a nonissue, and just did not bother explaining it to you because he sucks like so many people. Maybe call his office and ask the question. Maybe the legal secretary will help you. Call and say Mr. Soandso handled your divorce.

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bkcunningham's avatar

When did your divorce become finalized?

marinelife's avatar

It differs by state. When I got my divorce, there was a piece of paper that went along with the papers that I signed to get my maiden name back.

robmandu's avatar

It sounds like there’s an assumption here that when a woman gets married, her last name automatically changes to her husband’s.

That’s not how it works. A woman has to legally change her name through a formal process. And she can change it to anything she wants: husband’s last name, hyphenated maiden + husband’s last name, or she can even change it to Princess Buttercup.

In Texas, you’d go to the Department of Public Safety, fill out some forms, pay $200–300, and you’d be done. After that, it’s just a matter of following up and notifying various folks about the change.

If I understand @ItalianPrincess1217‘s question, she never did the legal name change. So if she ever identified herself with her husband’s last name, she was using an alias.

Anyway, it doesn’t sound like she needs to change it back, and she never changed it legally in the first place.

If you really do need to change your name for any reason, Legal Zoom offers that service if you want help navigating the bureaucracy. .

marinelife's avatar

@robmandu In some states the legal name change takes place when the woman signs the marriage certificate.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 Look at what name is listed on your divorce certificate. If it has your maiden name, you should be fine. If it is your married name, all you should need to do is go to court and petition for a legal name change. Which court you have to go to may vary depending on your state, but you should be able to find out by calling someone at the court house and asking for more information. Many court houses have a self service area and someone in that area can usually answer basic questions (like which forms you need for a name change so you can do it yourself).

Cupcake's avatar

I agree with @JLeslie and @Seaofclouds. It sounds like a trip to the county clerk’s office or courthouse is in order.

Fortunately, you will not ALSO have to deal with DMV, passports, credit cards, etc… since you never used the name. But if you didn’t legally revert to your maiden name in the divorce, your married name is your legal name.

What a pain in the butt. Sorry you have to deal with this. I was married for 3 months and waited for a year to get divorced (for religious reasons) and had to change my name back everywhere. It was tedious, tiring and embarrassing (for me).

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@Seaofclouds The divorce documents have his last name. I’m also wondering if I were to remarry someday, would this all have a big impact on it when signing the marriage certificate, etc?

Seaofclouds's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 It could. If you ever go to get remarried, you will have to prove you are divorced with your divorce certificate (so be sure to keep it somewhere safe). If the divorce certificate shows a different name than what you are using and you don’t have a legal name change document, it may cause a problem (though I doubt it would really make a big difference).

Cupcake's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 When I remarried, I had to bring my old marriage certificate and divorce decree to get the new marriage license.

You should be able to find a lawyer who will consult with you for free about the potential legal issues with your last name and potential resolutions.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] We experienced some technical difficulties in this thread, and the last 4 responses (which were all unhelpful or off-topic) have been deleted.

JLeslie's avatar

I doubt there would be a problem when you want to get married again. Especially, if you are going to take his name, you are going to change your name again anyway.

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