Legally Changing Your Name After a Divorce

After the emotional and stressful process of a divorce, you would think the majority of women would want to start a new chapter in their lives by changing their married last name back to their maiden name.  However, this is not always the case. 

Many divorced women with children will retain their ex-husband’s last name so they and their children will continue to have the same last name.  For women who are known professionally by their former spouse’s last name, they may also choose to retain their former husband’s last name so as to not create complications in their careers.  There are those women, however, especially those without children, who desire to make a clean break from their former marriage and one way of doing so is by resuming their maiden name once again. 

When a divorcing or divorced woman does decide to change her last name, there are legal steps that need to be taken.

In Florida, you will need to begin by gathering the following documents:

  • Proof of identification, which could be either a driver’s license, state ID, or passport
  • Proof of age, which could be an adoption decree, hospital record, or birth certificate
  • A Certified copy of your Florida divorce decree

If your divorce decree includes a provision that grants your name change, this will serve as your legal proof of name change.  If this provision was omitted from your final decree, you will need to contact the court that handled your divorce case and ask if they will allow you to amend the document.  Not all courts in Florida will allow amendments to divorce decrees.  If the court refuses to amend the decree, you then will need to create a Florida Petition for Name Change.

Once your last name has been legally changed, you will need to notify all applicable government agencies of your new name.  The two most common offices are the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security Office.  You can either fill out the Social Security form SS-5 in person at your local Social Security Office, or mail your completed form along with certified copies of your divorce decree, proof of identification and proof of age and your documents as well as a new social security card, will be returned to you in about six weeks.

You will need to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to change the name on your driver’s license once you have proof of changing your Social Security number.  Your new license will be mailed to you within six weeks.

When going through a divorce, a reputable, experienced divorce attorney will ensure that your divorce decree includes a provision that grants your name change, thus saving you the time, effort and cost of handling this process after your divorce.

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