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Exploring Divorce: Name Changes

Divorce brings with it many challenging decisions, one of which often involves the last name of one spouse. In joining together in marriage, one party typically takes the last name of the other. However, when the couple decides to divorce, this individual often wants to revert to their original last name to retrieve a portion of their pre-marriage identity and avoid carrying a part of their spouse along their future trajectory.

What is the Process for Name Changes in Maryland?

Fortunately, in Maryland, the laws regarding divorce enable any name changes completed as a result of marriage to be undone. When filing for divorce, the name change can even be included in the pleadings so that as soon as the divorce process is complete, a legal name can revert to a man’s/woman’s previous/maiden name, or any last name previously used. However, it is important to remember that to complete the name change after the divorce you have only eighteen months from the official divorce date to ask the court to restore a former name.

Do I HAVE to Change my Name?

Not necessarily. For many, the constant reminder of divorce or a former spouse every time they pull out their driver’s license, sign a document, or hear their name called, can be difficult or undesired. For these reasons, changing their name is a given and requires little thought. However, some reasons may necessitate some extra thought in connection with the decision.

For example, you may want to ask yourself the following questions before permanently changing your name:

– Is it worth the trouble of changing your name with the DMV, credit cards, loan companies, etc.?

– Have you developed a solid professional or career reputation under your married name?

– Would it be easier to maintain the same last name as your children?

– Are you on good or bad terms with your ex-partner?

– Would it benefit you or your family to restore your family name?

Can I Make my Ex-Spouse Change Her Name?

Now, suppose you find yourself on the other end of the divorce, wondering if your ex-partner will opt to change his/her name back. Remember, you cannot “take back” your last name or force another to change their name after a divorce. It is entirely up to the partner whether they wish to keep it.

What Steps Should I Take if Granted a Name Change?

If you are granted the name change during or after the divorce proceedings, you must take many critical steps to ensure that your documents and legal records are in order. For example, you must arrange to update the following:

· Driver’s License: You must contact the MVA to update the name on this important document.

· Tax Documents: Be sure to reach out to the IRS to be sure your tax documents include the new (old) name.

· Social Security Card: The Social Security Administration must be aware of the name change to update your social security card appropriately.

· Registrar of Voters: It is important to update your voter record, or you may have a problem voting in future elections.

· Postal Records: It is important to update your name with the U.S. Postal Service.

So, Should I Change My Name?

Based on the many considerations highlighted above, whether to change your name upon completing your divorce process is a big decision. It should be well thought out and the many implications should be carefully considered.

If you are going through a divorce and cannot decide if you should change your name, reach out to our office to speak to one of our experienced attorneys who can help guide your decision and provide information on your options and their potential ramifications.