Spouses’ Election to Keep Married Name

In the United States, your surname may give you a sense of self and of belonging. For women who have changed their names upon marriage, a subsequent divorce raises the question:  should I take back my own last name?  There are several reasons some women may prefer to keep their married surname after a divorce. For example, she might wish to have the same last name as the children, or there may be professional reasons that she identifies with the name, preferring not to start building a professional reputation from scratch. For example, Victoria Beckham rose to fame in the Spice Girls empire at the same time as her marriage to David Beckham. When someone mentions Victoria Beckham, nearly everyone knows her.  However, if someone were to call her by her maiden name, Victoria Adams, few would know her.  .

You may also opt to keep your married name for simpler reasons, such as it being easier to pronounce than your maiden name or because you remember the hassles of changing your name (including getting a new passport, driver’s license, and updating the Social Security Administration as well as all financial institutions).  Many men ask us if it is possible to require their ex-wives to change their last names to their maiden names. It is not possible to require anyone to change back to a prior surname.  This is only the choice of the person carrying the name, even if it was not her birth name.

For many women, the choice to change their last names back to their prior surname is an important and liberating step in the divorce process.  For some women, taking back their identify from before the marriage is critical to the divorce process.  Taking someone’s last name upon marriage is a symbol of unity, and many wish to sever the legal and emotional connections with the former spouse upon the divorce. Please note that name changes upon divorce are not automatic.  If you wish to change your last name, you may do so as early as the day after you file for divorce.  You can also do so after the divorce is granted.  We can help you through the process and answer any questions you have regarding this important decision.