Life does not stop after divorce, it begins anew!
Changing your name after divorce is a personal choice. I know some women who had started the name changing process the day the divorce was sealed, rushing directly to federal offices to get the ball rolling. While other women, myself included, waited a bit longer. I didn’t wait because I felt an affinity to my exes name or to him, but I felt it was the right thing to do for my daughter. Her entire 12-year old world was changing, I felt it was the least I could do.
Some women never change their name until they remarry, if they remarry. Sharing the same name when you have children does make life easier. Of course it is an individual decision, but I think it is emancipating to lose the former name and be you for a while. It is quite freeing to own your own name, not the one you bartered for the band of gold, but the one you were born into. You know the name you had when you believed you could conquer the world, when you were younger and idealistic? Your name, after all, is a key part of your identity. I knew I would not keep my former husbands name because I was not the same person anymore. In fact, when we married I was one of those hyphenated names that most people hate, which actually turned out to be a good thing when opening new utility accounts and changing banks accounts, since my maiden name was already a part of my last name.
The process to change one’s name back to a former maiden name can seem daunting. To begin the process the Judgment of Divorce is required, which states on it the name the person is returning to, such as your maiden name. This is an important piece of the puzzle. Make sure your divorce decree states you can return to your maiden name, even if you think you won’t change it. If you have a change of heart, it will make life much easier.
The first place to start is at Social Security by obtaining a Social Security card with a new name. This is accomplished by first filling out an Application for a New Social Security Card. The application must be taken in person to the local Social Security office along with a certified copy of the Divorce Decree showing the ability to resume the former maiden name. In addition, a document is needed to prove your identity such as a current driver’s license or passport. These documents must be original, so going in person to the local Social Security office makes most sense. Social Security will not accept copies of the identification documents. Once the new Social Security card is issued, then your driver’s license, passport and all other accounts must be updated. The Social Security Administration notifies the IRS.
There are women who go through this process more than once with a divorce and then with a remarriage, like myself. The choice to take a new name, resume a former name, retain a family name or even to hyphenate a name are significant and important decisions that should be made with a great deal of consideration towards the future. There will be times when it will feel confusing as to what you should do. If it feels confusing or overwhelming, then do nothing. When the time feels right you will know.
After I changed my name, I made sure I updated it on all my daughter school forms, teams, and email groups. However, be prepared to be called by your former name by many, even friends. As hard as it may be at times, it is important to speak up if someone addresses you incorrectly. Too often we let our insecurities overwhelm us and keep silent, but it will only create more confusion for all involved, especially your child. So when the time is right, reclaim your name, then write it and say it proudly. If you’re good with the decision, your child will be too.
For more information you can click on the Divorce Source link on my resource page.
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