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Should You Change Your Name After Divorce?

Deciding whether or not to change your name after divorce is a huge decision. I heavily weighed the pros and cons throughout the process. After all, my married name is the last name my children have. In my mind, it was part of what made them and me a cohesive family.  Plus, life would be easier if we all had the same surname. I kept imagining how confusing it would be trying to connect us together in the community if we didn’t match. I also knew it was a hassle to get it all done. My biggest concern was the kids’ feelings, and whether they would feel like I wasn’t a part of them anymore. I decided to keep it.

As time went on, however, my feelings started to change. Being apart made his last name feel less and less right. My maiden name had come from MY family. It had been mine for longer than his had been. It started to feel wrong. His name was a connection to a past I no longer wanted to be connected to.

When I finally made the decision to go back to my maiden name, I talked to my kids about it first. I needed to know they were ok with me doing it. If they weren’t, I would not change it. I was so nervous to ask them. I kept assuming they wouldn’t want me to change it and would feel hurt and alienated if I did so. What if just asking them was enough for them to feel betrayed? Imagine my surprise when instead they were encouraging! They are the ones who pointed out to me that they have friends with different last names from their moms and it’s no big deal. It wouldn’t be strange to them. They told me I should definitely do it.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief!

Originally I going to have it done as part of our divorce process since you can make it simple and have it rolled into the divorce decree. I wouldn’t have to fuss with it that way. Plus, I’d always heard it was a pain in the butt to get done otherwise. Our divorce kept dragging on though, and the more betrayed I felt, the more impatient I was to drop his name and feel like myself again.

It turns out that in Virginia, changing your name is a very simple process. I just downloaded the form for my county and filled it in on my computer, then printed it out. I brought some ID and the required identifying paperwork with the forms down to the courthouse one afternoon and turned it all in. It took literally 5 minutes…and a week later, I had my certified copies of my official name change! Best part? It only cost me $42 to buy myself some happiness. WORTH IT!!!

Should You Change YOUR Last Name?

  • How long have you had your married name? For some women who have been married 20+ years, they have had their married name longer than they ever had their birth name, and it would seem strange to go back to it. For others, it’s an opportunity to reclaim their true selves and get out from under the shadow of a bad relationship.
  • Will it be hard professionally? If you’ve built a business around your current name, it could be difficult for a while.
  • How do your children feel? They are already going through a difficult time, so depending on their ages, it might be appropriate to take their opinions into consideration.
  • Are you ready to change all of your documents and accounts? You will have to get a new driver’s license, social security card, call your bank, credit cards, etc. You also have to deal with changing things like Facebook, Linked In, Paypal, etc. Some of them will require you to submit proof of the change.
  • Be prepared to be called “Mrs. ExHusband” forever still. Kids, parents, teachers, etc. who don’t know you will still use your kids’ last name when addressing you if they don’t know. You’ll never fully get away from it.

What did you decide to do with your name? I’d love to hear your experiences!