General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Widows and divorcees: have you kept your married name?

Asked by Jeruba (55493points) October 14th, 2021

Or have you gone back to your maiden name when you were no longer married?

If so,
1. Why did you do it?
2. How soon afterward did you do it?
3. How long ago was that?
4. How snarly was it, legally and logistically?
5. Have you regretted it?

And what was your emotional experience of it? Whether you were happily divorced or sadly widowed, or vice versa, how did it feel for you to change your name back to what it was in your youth?

Bonus question: How much of your identity do you feel is tied to your name, and how has it affected you to change that?

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19 Answers

Inspired_2write's avatar

After Divorce finalized I kept married name until a time later ( one yr or less) changed it to my maiden name as I was entering College ( at age 32 yrs old) and wanted it in my own name to reflect my independance from a bad marriage to begin with.

It was the first time that I identified with my own accomplishments without imput from others.

Not complicated just started signing my name with maiden name and started my own account ( never had one and never been on my own) and changed my drivers licence anyways to new address and name etc

!980 Sept as I signed up for College to upgrade and put in high gear a plan to become more proactive in career development and to become financially independant.

Have NOT regretted it as my ex side of the family were the opposite of charitable in thought and or deed.( They Never accepted me being married to their only child/son and I was made aware of every day and left out of events) that for the 11 years of marriage and three children later).

Needless to say I was and am Happily divorced from that oppressive marriage and inlaws.

I endeaveor to stay away from Mamma boys who won’t grow up.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m going to speak for my SIL. I had always known she hated that she gave up her name when she got married. At the time of her divorce she had two small children. She asked me what I thought about changing her name back to her maiden name, she said it can all be done at once in the divorce paperwork. I told her it’s much simpler in America to have the same name as her children. She said her lawyer advised her to keep her married name too. She went along with the advice.

Eight years later she got married to another man, and took his name! I couldn’t believe it. When I mentioned that I was surprised, she said, “it meant a lot to him.” After a few years they divorced and she finally went back to her maiden name.

A few years ago the family was together having dinner and somehow the topic came up. I told her, I always felt badly I didn’t show her more support about going back to her maiden name on the first divorce. Her daughter (in her mid twenties) said, “no, I would have been so upset if she had changed her name.” My SIL also chimed in saying it was good she had kept her married name while her children were young.

My SIL doesn’t work in a profession where her last name is very important. Her maiden name seems to play a big part in her identity. She also idolizes her father in some ways. Moreover, I think she always feels like she’s fighting for identity and to be taken seriously and treated equally having grown up in a macho culture. My impression is having her maiden name back is a relief to her. It’s finally closing a chapter and back to being herself.

Legally it varies by state, but shouldn’t be very difficult at all. It’s already an AKA. You can get the paperwork online now probably. When my FIL wanted to change his name (years ago) I picked up the documents for him at the courthouse.

chyna's avatar

I took back my name during my divorce as his last name was a bit silly.
I had no children so that wasn’t a concern.
It was all taken care of in the divorce papers, but I had to personally go to the social security office and DMV with my paperwork to get my name changed on those items.
It was in 1999, so it was prior to the internet. It can probably all be done from your computer now.

janbb's avatar

I always kind of regretted changing my name at marriage but I got married when women were just beginning to keep their own names and thought it would be awkward not to change. My married name was clumsy to pronounce and I never was that comfortable with it but it was and is the name of my sons – although they both got my birth name as their middle name.

When I was going through a divorce after a long, long marriage, I knew I would take back my birth name as soon as I could. As part of the divorce decree, you could specify the name you wanted to be known by and so I changed it back.

I did have to change it with Social Security, change my passport, and get a new drivers license but there was no particular time frame and I got it all done without much hassle. I am very happy to have my own “true” name back – even though it did come from my father!

JLeslie's avatar

Just reading this again. I don’t think I know any widows who changed their name back to their maiden name. It must happen.

If my husband died (God forbid) I probably would not go through the trouble of changing my name back, and I always say it’s his name, but while he’s here with me I always felt fine with taking his name. I do feel like we are the primary unit in our lives.

So, just thinking when he’s gone I’ll still be saying it’s his name? Hmmm. I can’t imagine changing my name to a new husband. Then I might feel better to have my maiden name.

@Jeruba I’m curious if you are contemplating doing it? Or, just something random that occurred to you with your recent loss.

elbanditoroso's avatar

My ex-wife kept my last name until she married Husband #2, then she took his. Then she want on to #3 and took his.

Caravanfan's avatar

Well, I’m not a woman and I am married, but my wife never took my name.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks very much. More, please.

Brian1946's avatar

Before we married, I encouraged my wife to keep her maiden name.

She uses her maiden name for her Social Security and for her driver’s license IDs, so I’d say that she’s experienced no snarls there.

For her teacher’s ID, she hyphenated our surnames. I think she said that was because it was financially advantageous to do so.

This December will be our 20th wedding anniversary, so she made those decisions about 20 years ago.

However, for some lower-priority accounts, she’s made various changes.

The last time I looked at her Facebook account, she was using her middle name and her married surname. I think that’s for privacy reasons.

As far as I know, she doesn’t regret any of the above.

If she ever remarries, I think she may encounter some minor snarls, but nothing major.

kneesox's avatar

@elbanditoroso, she sure sounds like a taker.

SnipSnip's avatar

Of course. I was married a long time and very well connected in my home state and I would never not have the same last name as my own children.

JLeslie's avatar

@SnipSnip Do you have any daughters? One day she might have a different name than you.

SnipSnip's avatar

@JLeslie During the growing up years is when it matters so much. She is a professional and uses her maiden name anyway.

tedibear's avatar

When my first husband and I divorced, I reclaimed my maiden name as part of the paperwork process. It was very simple as it was included in the dissolution papers. It was a bit of a pain to do the social security card, driver’s license, and credit cards. Nothing horribly burdensome, just time consuming.

Upon marrying this time, I took his last name. My thought was that if we had children, it might be easier for everyone to have the same last name. We didn’t have kids, but I have no issues with having his last name.

My name, for me, does have a tie to my identity. My first and middle names come from my parents’ names, so I don’t feel like I have lost any part of my past.

Cupcake's avatar

It’s a long story, but my oldest son does not have the same last name as me. When I got divorced, I asked the judge to allow me to take on that last name (my son’s). Since I had not previously held that name, myself, I was not permitted to change it. Instead, I took back my maiden name.

JLeslie's avatar

@Cupcake I’m surprised to hear the court denied you.

Dutchess_III's avatar

After divorcing the kid’s dad I kept his name for the next 10 years.
When I was preparing to marry Rick I told my son that I was having the hardest time changing my name because it would then be different from his.
He gave me the most quizzical look and said “What do you mean? We can still call you ‘Mom’, right?”
He just makes everything better. ♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡◇

Cupcake's avatar

@JLeslie Yeah, I was too. He said I could only go back to a previous name. I don’t know if that was state-specific.

JLeslie's avatar

@Cupcake All I can think is maybe when it’s part of a divorce decree you can only go back to a previous name?

People change their names to completely new names, but that usually takes some extra steps, or used to anyway, like publishing the name in the newspaper, I don’t remember what else.

It does vary by state.

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