Changing Your Last Name After Divorce

Many women want to return to their maiden name after they divorce. While it’s not difficult to do, it’s important to do it correctly to avoid problems in the future.

In Pennsylvania, you may resume a prior surname at any time during your divorce proceeding by filing a written notice with the Prothonotary of the county in which your divorce was filed or in which your divorce decree was entered. This notice provides the Prothonotary with the caption and docket number of your divorce. If you got divorced outside of Pennsylvania, you must also attach your divorce decree to the notice.

After you provide this notice and obtain your Name Change Order, you may change other legal documents. For example, if you legally changed your name and obtained a corrected Social Security card when you married, you will need to update it again to reflect your maiden name. To do this, bring a certified copy of the Name Change Order to your local Social Security Office. They will take care of the remaining steps. Failing to obtain a corrected Social Security card may prevent your wages from being correctly accounted for on your Social Security record and this may lower your future Social Security benefits. Failing to obtain an updated card may also cause delays when you file your taxes.

You will also need to update or obtain a REAL ID. Beginning May 3, 2023, Pennsylvanians will be required to have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license to board domestic flights and enter federal buildings. When obtaining a REAL ID, you will need to provide proof of all legal name changes if your current full legal name is different than what is shown on your proof of identity document.  To prove your name change, you may use original or certified copies of your marriage certificate, Name Change Order, or your divorce decree.

Divorce isn’t the only reason you may wish to change your name, and your new name might not be the only change you wish to make on important, official documents. There are also different rules for changing your name after divorce depending on your citizenship status. Whether you want to change your name because of your divorce, or to make it match your gender identity, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Jennifer J. Riley can help. Give us a call and find out how we can help you Protect What Matters Most!