I ask this question every day– of women getting divorced, not those about to get married. Why? Well, because for brides I think this is a very personal choice, and not one that I really can weigh in on. Meanwhile for those getting divorced, although it is a very simple procedure legally to be restored to your maiden name as part of a divorce proceeding, this decision involves complicated logistics and emotions for my female clients, especially when they share the same last name as their children.
Whether you are a bride to be, or a soon to be divorcee, the procedure for changing your name is generally the same– and I suggest your share this with any bride and/or groom you may know so that s/he can fully appreciate what is involved here:
1 You will need to obtain from the court a certified copy of either the marriage certificate or divorce decree. Get multiple copies just to be safe– this will probably cost about $6 each.
2. Submit the court document to Social Security to obtain a new card.
3. Go to DMV with that court document and your Social Security card to get a new license.
4. Contact all your banking institutions (including credit cards) and submit your new identification cards so they can update your records.
5. Get a new passport with your new name.
6. Contact all your organizations/licensing institutions to update your name change.
7. Let friends and family know, and update your social media profiles accordingly.
These are the main steps, and as you can see it is not easy, quick or cheap. And then there are other factors to consider, such as how will this impact your business? How will your children feel if you don’t share the same last name? How important is it to your new spouse that you share the same name? How attached are you to the name you have? All tough questions that need to be asked by each individual woman in order for her to make the best decision for herself.
At 25, when I first married and had not yet established my career, there was zero hesitation in changing my name, and when I divorced in my 30’s I kept my name both for business reasons and because I wanted to share the same last name as my son. Now that I’m in my 40’s, I have zero interest in ever changing my name, but I respect a woman’s right to make her own choice, and so should any groom, who by the way is also welcome to change his name and go through the same process set forth above.
Are you changing your name? Think it through carefully, and then just do what works for you.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.